Section 3. Letters of Agreement (LOA)

  1. LETTERS OF AGREEMENT

An LOA should be negotiated if the air traffic manager deems it necessary to clarify responsibilities of other persons/facilities/organizations when specific operational/procedural needs require their cooperation and concurrence. For Class A airspace authorizations, do not negotiate an LOA intended to support recurring operations, before reviewing the guidance contained in Chapter 19 of this order regarding waivers, authorizations, or exemptions to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). An LOA should be prepared when it is necessary to:

  1. Supplement established operational/procedural instructions.
  2. Define responsibilities and coordination requirements.
  3. Establish or standardize operating methods.
  4. Specify special operating conditions or specific air traffic control procedures.
  1. LOAs for recurring VFR glider and balloon operations in Class A airspace must contain the following provision:

    “This Letter of Agreement (LOA) does not grant nor imply the waiver of, or an authorization to deviate from, any part or subpart of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). All applicant(s) and/or operator(s) will coordinate with the responsible Flight Standards District Office in advance of planned or recurring VFR flight in Class A airspace.”
  2. The Flight Standards Service (FS) is responsible for ensuring the qualification of civil pilots, airworthiness of civil aircraft, and the safety of persons and property on the ground as part of a waiver for which air traffic does not have issuing authority. Chapter 19 of this order references CFRs that require coordination with FS for these operations to occur.

NOTE-

Planned or recurring operations constitute those operations over a long period of time necessitating an LOA. Short-term periods, for example, a single day event, weekend, or similar short periods are accomplished through special provisions included with an FS approved Certificate of Waiver.

REFERENCE-

FAA Order 8900.1, Flight Standards Information Management System (FSIMS).

  1. Delegate responsibility for ATC service; e.g., approach control service, control boundary jurisdiction, and procedures for coordinating and controlling aircraft where two or more airports have conflicting traffic patterns or overlapping conflicting traffic patterns.
  2. Establish responsibilities for:
  1. Operating airport equipment.
  2. Providing emergency services.
  3. Provide airport management with braking action reports. At a minimum, procedures must provide for the prompt notification which indicate runway braking conditions have deteriorated to “good to medium," “medium," “medium to poor," “poor," or “nil" or have improved to “good."
  4. Reporting operating limitations and hazards.
  5. Interfacility use of trajectory-based operations (TBO) capabilities (e.g., TBFM, TFDM.)
  1. Describe procedures that supplement those contained in FAA Order JO 7110.65, Air Traffic Control, or FAA Order JO 7110.10, Flight Services, to satisfy a requirement of a military service.

REFERENCE-

FAA Order JO 7110.65, Para 1-1-11, Constraints Governing Supplements and Procedural Deviations.

  1. Define stereotyped flight plans used for special operations, such as training flights or flight test activities.
  2. Describe airspace areas required to segregate special operations.
  3. Establish aircraft radiotelephony call signs to be used by the tower and the local operators.
  4. Define the responsibilities of the tower and the airport management or other authority for movement and nonmovement areas by precisely delineating the loading ramps and parking areas under the jurisdiction of the airport management or other appropriate authority. Facility air traffic managers may, at their discretion, exclude from the movement area those portions of the airport surface normally designated movement areas that are not visible from the tower. Consideration must be given to the impact this may have on the movement of ground traffic. The agreement may include the following:
  1. Airport management or other appropriate authority must require, by agreement or regulation, all ground vehicles and equipment operators and personnel to obtain tower approval prior to entry onto the airport movement area and comply with control instructions issued to them while on that area. This includes those vehicles used to conduct pushback operations and must require approval prior to moving aircraft/vehicles out of the loading ramps or parking areas onto the movement area.
  2. Airport management or other appropriate authority may also require those aircraft which will not infringe upon the movement area but will impede ingress and egress to the parking area to contact the tower for advisories prior to conducting pushback operations. State that information related to aircraft movement on the loading ramps or parking areas is advisory in nature and does not imply control responsibility.
  3. At those airports where vehicles not equipped with two-way radio are permitted by the airport management or other appropriate authority to enter or cross the defined movement area at specific locations without approval from the tower, enter into an LOA with the airport management, or other appropriate authority, specifying the conditions for such operations and include the clause as follows: “The airport owner/operator covenants and expressly agrees that with regard to any liability which may arise from the operation within (area/areas), that party must be solely and exclusively liable for the negligence of its own agents, servants, and/or employees, in accordance with applicable law, and that neither party looks to the other to save or hold it harmless for the consequences of any negligence on the part of one of its own agents, servants, and/or employees.”
  1. The airport operator must define the specific activities allowed in the Runway Safety Areas (RSA) during aircraft operations. Air Traffic, FAA Technical Operations and airport tenants that may be permitted into the RSA must be included in an LOA.
  1. APPROPRIATE SUBJECTS

Examples of subjects of LOAs are:

  1. Between ARTCCs:
  1. Radar handoff procedures.
  2. Interfacility coordination procedures.
  3. Delegation of responsibility for IFR control jurisdiction.
  1. Between ATCTs:
  1. Tower en route control service.
  2. Interfacility coordination procedures.
  1. Between Flight Service Stations: Procedures for maintaining master flight plan files.
  2. Between an ARTCC and an ATCT:
  1. Approach control service.
  2. Interfacility coordination procedures.
  3. Tower/center en route control service.
  1. Between an ARTCC and an FSS: Procedures for the assignment of DVFR and VFR beacon codes.
  2. Between an ATCT and an FSS: Operation of airport lighting.
  3. Between an ARTCC or an approach control facility and a nonapproach control tower, an FSS, an airport manager, or a local operator: Special VFR Operations. (See FIG 4-3-1.)
  4. Between an ARTCC or an approach control facility and a nonapproach control tower:
  1. Authorization for separation services.
  2. Interfacility coordination procedures.
  3. Opposite direction operations procedures.

REFERENCE-

FAA Order 7210.3, Para 2-1-37, Opposite Direction Operations.

  1. Between an ARTCC and another government agency:
  1. Interfacility coordination for control of ADC aircraft.
  2. Delegation of responsibility for approach control services.
  3. MTR procedures.
  1. Between a tower and another government agency:
  1. Simulated flameout procedures.
  2. Control of helicopter SVFR flights.
  3. Operation of aircraft-arresting barriers.
  4. MTR procedures.
  1. Between a tower and/or FSS and an airport manager/aircraft operator at airports upon which the tower and/or FSS is located:
  1. Airport emergency service.
  2. Operation of airport lighting.
  3. Reporting airport conditions, to include how all PIREP braking action reports of “good to medium," “medium," “medium to poor," “poor," or “nil" are to be immediately transmitted to airport management, and an agreement on actions by air traffic personnel for the immediate cessation of operations on runways subject to “nil" braking action reports.

REFERENCE-

Advisory Circular AC 150/5200-30D, Airport Winter Safety and Operations.

  1. Control of vehicular traffic on airport movement areas.
  2. Specific activities allowed in the RSA during aircraft operations.

REFERENCE-

FAA Order JO 7210.3, Para 2-1-22, Obstacle Identification Surfaces, Obstacle Free Zones, Runway Safety Areas. Approach/Departure Hold Areas and Clearways.
AC-150/5210-20A, Appendix C.

  1. Operations under an exemption from Part 91, Appendix D, Section 3, the surface area of Class B, Class C, Class D, or Class E airspace within which Special VFR weather minimums are not authorized.

REFERENCE-

Advisory Circular AC 150/5210-7C, Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting Communications.

  1. Between a tower and/or FSS and an airport manager/aircraft operator at airports upon which the tower is located but the FSS is not: Reporting airport runway conditions.
  2. Between an air traffic control facility and a fixed site operating under Section 44809. For all operations occurring on-airport, follow procedures in FAA Order JO 7200.23, Processing of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Requests, Chapter 2, Processing of Section 44809 Authorization Requests.
  1. DEVELOPING LOA

Air traffic managers must take the following action when developing an LOA: (See examples FIG 4-3-1 and FIG 4-3-2. For commercial space example LOAs, see Appendix 6.)

  1. Determine, through coordination, which FAA facility is principally responsible for processing the LOA.
  2. Confine the material in each agreement to a single subject or purpose.
  3. Describe the responsibilities and procedures applicable to each facility and organization involved. Review pertinent national procedures or local instrument flight procedures and incorporate into the new LOA(s) as necessary.

NOTE-

Information related to subscribing for alerts regarding upcoming changes to instrument flight procedures is available at the Instrument Flight Procedures Information Gateway: https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/flight_info/aeronav/procedures/.

REFERENCE-

FAA Order JO 7210.3, Para 2-1-2, Facility Standard Operating Procedures Directive.FAA Order JO 7210.3, Para 2-1-6, Checking Accuracy of Published Data.
FAA Order JO 7210.3, Para 4-3-7, Annual Review/Revisions.

  1. Delegate responsibility for control of IFR aircraft, where necessary, by taking the following action:
  1. Describe the area within which responsibility is delegated. The area may be depicted in chart form.
  2. Define the conditions governing use of the area. These include altitudes, routing configuration, and limitations or exceptions to the use of the applicable airspace.
  3. Specify the details of control procedures to be used. These include clearance limits, reporting points, handoff points, and release points.
  4. Identify clearance limits designated as Instrument Approach Fixes when they are to be used for holding aircraft.
  5. Specify communications and coordination procedures.
  1. Coordinate with other FAA facilities and military or civil organizations as appropriate.
  2. Attach charts or other visual presentations, when appropriate, to depict the conditions of the LOA.
  3. Coordinate with the Regional Flight Standards Division, All Weather Operations Program Manager if aircraft operations or pilot procedures will be affected.
  4. Prepare a single supplement, if necessary, to augment the letter at a facility and attach it to the basic LOA. Do not repeat material from the basic LOA.
  5. After coordination, send two copies of the proposed LOA, including supplements, to the service area office for approval if required.
  1. REVIEW BY SERVICE AREA OFFICE
  1. The Service Area office must review the proposed LOA, ensure coordination with other interested offices and affected user groups, as necessary, and approve the LOA if satisfactory.
  2. The Service Area office may, in writing, delegate to air traffic managers, air traffic managers designees, ATREPs, or Region Air Defense Liaison Officer (RADLOs) the authority to develop, coordinate, approve, and implement LOAs except for:
  1. Those which prescribe procedures or minima contrary to those contained in FAA Order JO 7110.65, Air Traffic Control, unless appropriate military authority has authorized application of reduced separation between military aircraft; or

REFERENCE-

FAA Order JO 7110.65, Para 1-1-9, Procedural Letters of Agreement.

  1. Those between an IFR facility and a tower to authorize the separation services prescribed in paragraph 2-1-16, Authorization for Separation Services by Towers, and paragraph 10-5-3, Functional Use of Certified Tower Radar Displays.
  1. APPROVAL

Upon receipt of Service Area office approval, the air traffic manager must:

  1. Prepare the LOA in final form incorporating the Service Area office guidance.
  2. Establish an effective date, acceptable to all parties involved, that permits sufficient time for distribution and for participating facilities and user groups to familiarize personnel, revise directives, flight charts, etc., and complete other actions.
  3. Sign the LOA and obtain signatures of other authorities as required.
  4. Distribute copies of the signed LOA to each participating facility or organization, the Service Area office, and other interested offices. Distribution of supplements outside the facility is not required.
  5. Ensure that current, new, or revised LOA, Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), and FAA Facility Orders (FO) are posted in the Facility Directives Repository (FDR) before the effective date of the document.

EXCEPTION. LOAs containing contingency plan information must not be posted to the FDR. LOAs with such information must be posted to the National OCP database.

REFERENCE-

FAA Order JO 7210.3, Para 2-2-14, Facility Directives Repository (FDR).

  1. COMMERCIAL SPACE LOAs

LOAs exist between ATC facilities and commercial space launch/reentry site, launch, and/or reentry operations proponents. FAA Order JO 7400.2, Procedures for Handling Airspace Matters contains responsibilities and procedures for Commercial Space operations. The following lists the roles and responsibilities of organizations and individuals involved in the commercial space LOA process:

  1. The respective ATO Service Center OSG will serve as facilitator of the LOA development.
  2. ATO Service Center OSG will coordinate with the appropriate Service Area, ATO Space Operations, the Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST), the Office of Airports, and other offices having responsibilities in accordance with the operation.
  3. Each LOA must include, but is not limited to:
  1. Names and contact information for all parties involved.
  2. For launch/reentry operation LOAs: Description of operation to include vehicle type and characteristics; anticipated frequency of operations; and requested airspace, altitude, vehicle positioning data transmittal, and Aircraft Hazard Area (AHA) information.
  3. For launch/reentry site LOAs: Brief description of the launch/reentry site, types of anticipated operations, and anticipated frequency of proposed operations.
  4. Operating procedures to include communications, real-time coordination, NOTAM content issuance, contingency, and emergency.
  1. ANNUAL REVIEW/REVISIONS
  1. Review LOAs at least annually and update as necessary. Examine current LOAs for practices and/or procedures that are no longer required. Reviewing includes both content and relevance that achieve full operational efficiency and customer flexibility. Review and, if necessary, update LOAs when new/revised instrument flight procedures are published or national procedures are implemented or changed.

NOTE-

Information related to subscribing for alerts regarding upcoming changes to instrument flight procedures is available at the Instrument Flight Procedures Information Gateway: https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/flight_info/aeronav/procedures/.

REFERENCE-

FAA Order JO 7210.3, Para 2-1-2, Facility Standard Operating Procedures Directive.
FAA Order JO 7210.3, Para 2-1-6, Checking Accuracy of Published Data.
FAA Order JO 7210.3, Para 4-3-3, Developing LOA.

  1. Process revisions to LOAs and attachments or supplements thereto as page replacements. Mark the revisions as follows:
  1. Place an asterisk or vertical line to the left of each new or revised paragraph or section to signify new material.
  2. Identify page revisions by the “REV” number, e.g., “REV 1,” and the effective date in the lower right hand corner of each revised page.
  1. Coordinate revisions to a LOA in the same manner and degree as for the original LOA.
  1. CANCELLATION

After appropriate coordination with LOA signatories and the Service Area, cancel any agreement which is no longer applicable. Ensure that the FDR is updated.

FIG 4-3-1

Format for a Control Facility/FSS Letter of Agreement

A graphic depicting an example of the format used for a Control Facility/FSS Letter of Agreement.

FIG 4-3-2

Format for an ARTCC/Air Division Letter of Agreement

A graphic depicting an example of the format used for a ARTCC/Air Division Letter of Agreement.

  1. AUTOMATED INFORMATION TRANSFER (AIT)
  1. Radar identification, altitude, and en route fourth line control information approval may be transferred via full data blocks without using point-out procedures or verbal coordination. Air traffic managers wishing to authorize the use of the AIT process must establish AIT procedures adapted to local traffic situations and use the process only within the context of those specific procedures. These precoordinated procedures and the controller responsibilities must be specifically defined in facility directives.

REFERENCE-

FAA Order JO 7110.65, Para 5-4-11, En Route Fourth Line Data Block Usage.

  1. The controller who first transfers radar identification will also transfer aircraft communications. Either the transferring or the receiving controller, whoever is specified in a facility AIT directive, may issue the altitude change, if any. Additionally, facility AIT directives must require that any deviation from the specified procedure invalidates the procedure for that situation and requires that verbal coordination be completed as per FAA Order JO 7110.65, Air Traffic Control, paragraph 2-1-14, Coordinate Use of Airspace, paragraph 2-1-15, Control Transfer, paragraph 5-4-5, Transferring Controller Handoff, paragraph 5-4-6, Receiving Controller Handoff, or paragraph 5-4-7, Point Out. The following are general examples of the AIT process.
  1. Transfer of radar identification only:

EXAMPLE-

Controller A initiates a transfer of radar identification to controller B before the aircraft enters controller B's airspace. Controller B accepts the transfer of radar identification before the aircraft enters his/her airspace. Controller B, traffic permitting, then initiates a transfer of radar identification to controller C before the aircraft enters controller C's airspace. Controller A transfers aircraft communications to controller C before the aircraft enters controller C's airspace and after observing that controller C has accepted the transfer of radar identification.

  1. Transfer of radar identification and altitude control:

EXAMPLE-

  1. Controller A initiates a transfer of radar identification to controller B; controller B accepts the transfer. Controller B amends either the interim or assigned altitude in the data block to an altitude within his/her altitude stratum as prescribed in a facility directive. Controller B initiates a transfer of radar identification to controller C before the aircraft enters controller C's airspace. Controller A, after observing controller B initiate a transfer of radar identification to controller C, clears the aircraft to the altitude displayed in the data block by controller B. Controller A, after observing that controller C has accepted the transfer of radar identification, transfers aircraft communication to controller C before the aircraft enters controller C's airspace.
  2. Controller C may clear the aircraft to the altitude displayed by controller B if so established in a facility AIT directive.
  1. The following is an example of a precoordinated AIT procedure which might be written in a facility directive:

EXAMPLE-

The following procedure is established for implementation under the (AIT) process and is agreed to by the South and East areas. Aircraft departing ELP via J26 to ROW requesting FL 280 or above must be handled as follows:
(a) Sector 20 must clear the aircraft to FL 270 within its airspace and then initiate a transfer of radar identification to sector 63.
(b) Sector 63 must accept the transfer of radar identification then display either an assigned or interim altitude in the data block.
(c) Sector 63 must then initiate a transfer of radar identification to sector 23 before the aircraft enters sector 23's airspace.
(d) Sector 20, after observing the assigned/interim altitude displayed in the data block and that a transfer of radar identification has been initiated to sector 23, must then clear the aircraft to the appropriate altitude.
(e) Sector 20 must transfer communications of the aircraft to sector 23 before the aircraft enters sector 23's airspace and after observing sector 23's acceptance of the transfer or radar identification.

  1. Due to system design, the transfer of data stored in the fourth line of the ERAM FDB will not be displayed to the controller when operating on the backup system in EBUS only mode.
  1. When switching from the primary system to either mode of the backup system, ensure that the interfacility ERAM fourth line data transfer is disabled.
  2. When notified that an adjacent facility has transitioned from their primary system to either mode of the backup system, ensure that the interfacility ERAM fourth line data transfer to that facility is disabled.
  3. After successfully completing the transition back to the primary system, coordinate a time to enable interfacility ERAM fourth line data transfer.
  4. The air traffic manager must ensure that these procedures are incorporated into a Standard Operating Procedure.