Air Traffic Organization Policy

JO 7210.3
Effective Date:
April 3, 2014
Subject:  Facility Operation and Administration

Section 5. Moored Balloons, Kites, Unmanned Rockets, and Unmanned Free Balloons/Objects


Apply the following guidelines to moored balloon, kite, unmanned rocket, or unmanned free balloon flights conducted in accordance with Part 101 of 14 CFR:

a. Facilities receiving moored balloon, kite, unmanned rocket, or unmanned free balloon information must ensure that appropriate notices include the information required by 14 CFR Sections 101.15, 101.37, and 101.39.

b. Notice information must be forwarded to affected air traffic facility/s. Also, air traffic facilities must forward notices received to the appropriate FSS for dissemination as a NOTAM.

c. Handle unmanned free balloon operations below 2,000 feet above the surface in Class B, Class C, Class D or Class E airspace areas requiring ATC authorization as follows:

1. Authorize the request if the operation is not expected to impact the normally expected movement of traffic.

2. Coordinate with other affected facilities before authorizing the flight.

d. Request the operator of unmanned free balloon flights to forward position reports at any time they are needed to assist in flight following.

Operators are required only to notify the nearest FAA ATC facility if a balloon position report is not recorded for 2 hours. Other position reports are forwarded only as requested by ATC.


Take the following actions when a moored balloon/object is reported to have escaped from its moorings and may pose a hazard to air navigation, the operator of an unmanned free balloon advises that a position report has not been recorded for a 2-hour period, or the balloon's/object's flight cannot be terminated as planned:

a. Determine from the operator the last known and the present estimated position of the balloon/object as well as the time duration that the balloon/object is estimated to stay aloft. Also obtain other information from the operator such as the operator's access to a chase plane, hazardous material onboard, balloon/object coloring, special lighting, etc.

b. Attempt to locate and flight follow the derelict balloon/object.

c. Determine if the balloon's/object's flight can be terminated by the operator. If the balloon's/object's flight can be terminated, inform the operator of any known air traffic that might be a factor.

d. If the balloon's/object's flight cannot be terminated:

1. Advise the operator that the balloon/object is declared to be a derelict and as such is a potential hazard to air navigation.

2. Notify the ATCSCC, the regional Operations Center, and all affected facilities of the derelict. The ATCSCC will serve as the focal point for the collection and dissemination of further information.

3. Provide the ATCSCC with revised position or altitude information.

4. If required, assistance in locating and tracking the balloon may be requested from the National Military Command Center (NMCC), NORAD, or other agencies with surveillance capabilities through the ATCSCC. If appropriate, the ATCSCC will advise the NMCC that the derelict balloon is a current or potential hazard to air traffic. If the balloon cannot be located or flight followed, it poses at least a potential hazard.

The final decision to destroy the derelict balloon is the responsibility of the appropriate NORAD Commander.

e. Record and handle the derelict balloon as a Miscellaneous Incident.

FAAO JO 7110.65, Para 9-6-2, Derelict Balloons.

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