Section 3. DOE and Other Aircraft

  1. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (DOE) FLIGHTS

DOE contracts for civil pilots to operate public aircraft to transport radioactive and/or high explosive materials within the conterminous United States. They will operate principally during daylight hours and, although they will be made in VFR conditions insofar as possible, an instrument flight plan will be filed and IFR procedures followed.

  1. AERIAL SAMPLING/SURVEYING FOR NUCLEAR CONTAMINATION
  1. The USAF, Department of Energy (DOE), or other U.S. Government agencies perform aerial sampling/surveying of suspected foreign or domestic nuclear, chemical, or hazardous material contamination. A planned aerial sampling/surveying schedule is established by the USAF. Although sampler/survey aircraft are flight planned to the suspected area of nuclear contamination, the aircraft are likely to require altitude and route changes which cannot be anticipated prior to departure. The purpose of those altitude and route changes is to permit direct contact with and sampling/surveying of the cloud debris whose exact location and altitude distribution cannot be accurately predicted.
  2. To afford these operations optimum flexibility during in-flight profiles, ATC facilities must honor in-flight clearance requests for altitude and route changes to the maximum extent possible. If necessary, other IFR traffic may be re-cleared so that requests by sampler/survey aircraft are honored. However, in no case must the separation minima outlined in FAA Order JO 7110.65, Air Traffic Control, be compromised.
  3. USAF aircraft engaged in aerial sampling/surveying missions must use the call sign “SAMP” followed by the last three digits of the aircraft's serial number.

REFERENCE-

FAA Order JO 7110.65, Para 9-2-18, SAMP Flights.
FAA Order JO 7610.4, Para 12-4-3, Aerial Sampling/Surveying for Nuclear Contamination.

  1. DUE REGARD OPERATIONS
  1. Article 3 of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Chicago Convention of 1944 includes the following:
  1. This Convention must be applicable to civil aircraft and must not be applicable to state aircraft.
  2. Aircraft used in military, customs and police services must be deemed to be state aircraft.
  3. The contracting States undertake, when issuing regulations for their state aircraft, that they will have due regard for the safety of navigation of civil aircraft.
  1. Department of Defense and U.S. Customs Service have specified that one of the following conditions must be met for flight operations outside U.S. Domestic airspace which are conducted under the “due regard” or “operational” prerogative of state aircraft and not in accordance with standard ICAO flight procedures. Under these conditions the PIC assumes the responsibility for separating his/her aircraft from all other air traffic.
  1. Aircraft must be operated in visual meteorological conditions (VMC); or
  2. Aircraft must be operated within radar surveillance and radio communications of a surface radar facility; or
  3. Aircraft must be equipped with airborne radar that is sufficient to provide separation from other aircraft; or
  4. Aircraft must be operated within Class G airspace.
  1. Search and rescue actions for flights conducted under due regard provision are the responsibility of the parent organization.
  1. WEATHER RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHTS

The U.S. Air Force Reserve (AFRES) 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (53WRS) and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Aircraft Operations Center (AOC) are responsible for flying weather reconnaissance/research missions. 53WRS aircraft conducting these missions will utilize the call-sign “TEAL,” and aircraft from NOAA AOC will utilize the call-sign “NOAA.” Due to the unique nature of these missions it is necessary to provide a degree of special handling to ensure that sufficient meteorological data is collected. The routes flown are dictated by storm movement, not traffic flows. The nature of these weather phenomena may result in very little time between the filing of a flight plan and the actual departure.

  1. WINTER SEASON MISSIONS.
  1. Winter season missions are flown in support of the National Winter Season Operations Plan (NWSOP). The NWSOP states the 53WRS and NOAA AOC will:
  1. Ensure the appropriate ARTCC(s) has access to the Winter Season Plan of the Day (WSPOD) prior to the mission:

NOTE-

The WSPOD describes the mission and includes, for example, type aircraft call sign, departure airfield, and route of flight.

  1. Coordinate the mission directly with the ARTCC(s) upon receipt of the mission tasking:

NOTE-

The 53WRS and NOAA AOC are responsible for coordinating airspace access directly with DOD for missions on the U.S. east coast.

  1. File a flight plan as soon as practicable prior to departure time:
  2. Request a NOTAM by filing directly with the U.S. NOTAM office:
  3. Coordinate dropsonde instrument releases with ATC prior to release and broadcast on 121.5 and 243.0 to advise any traffic in the area of the pending drop:

NOTE-

  1. A dropsonde is a cardboard cylinder weighing less than a pound, that has a parachute attached, and is used for collecting weather data.
  2. ATC responsibilities pertaining to dropsonde releases are described in FAA Order JO 7110.65, paragraph 9-2-20, Weather Reconnaissance Flights.
  1. TEAL or NOAA flights may request the Chief, Aerial Reconnaissance Coordinator, All Hurricanes (CARCAH) to relay an en route clearance request to the ARTCC if the flight is unable to contact ATC.

NOTE-

ATC responsibilities pertaining to clearance requests via CARCAH are described in FAA Order JO 7110.65, paragraph 9-2-20, Weather Reconnaissance Flights.

  1. ATC will provide TEAL and NOAA aircraft priority handling in accordance with FAA Order JO 7110.65, paragraph 2-1-4, Operational Priority.
  1. HURRICANE AND TROPICAL CYCLONE MISSIONS.
  1. These reconnaissance/research missions are flown in support of the National Hurricane Operations Plan (NHOP) and in accordance with:
  1. The Memorandum of Agreement between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Aircraft Operations Center (AOC), U.S. Air Force Reserve Command 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (WRS), and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Traffic Organization (ATO) in Support of the National Hurricane Operations Plan; and
  2. Associated letters of agreement.
  1. Prior to an NHOP reconnaissance/ research mission, the 53rd WRS or NOAA AOC will:
  1. Provide the Mission Coordination Sheet to the appropriate ARTCC and the ATCSCC at least one hour prior to the mission.

NOTE-

The Mission Coordination Sheet describes the reconnaissance/research mission and includes, for example, the aircraft call sign, departure airfield, and route of flight.

  1. Submit a request to the appropriate ARTCC for a Weather Reconnaissance Area (WRA) NOTAM at least one hour prior to the mission.
  2. File a flight plan as soon as practicable before departure time.

NOTE-

Providing the Mission Coordination Sheet does not pre-empt the mission commander's responsibility to file a flight plan, nor does it constitute an ATC clearance.

  1. The ATCSCC must:
  1. Review the Tropical Cyclone Plan of the Day (TCPOD) by 1830 UTC.
  2. Activate the Hurricane Desk, if required.
  3. Review the Mission Coordination Sheet and prepare a public Flow Evaluation Area (FEA) based on the latitude/longitude points specified in the Mission Coordination Sheet when a mission is scheduled to be flown. The FEA naming convention is the aircraft call sign. Modify the FEA when requested by the affected facilities.
  4. Coordinate with the impacted ARTCCs as required, and designate a primary ARTCC when the reconnaissance/research flights are expected to operate through airspace managed by multiple ATC facilities.
  5. Assist ATC facilities with traffic flow priorities if the hurricane reconnaissance/ research flight will impact terminal traffic.
  1. The ARTCC(s) must:
  1. Review the Mission Coordination Sheet.
  2. Coordinate with all impacted ATC facilities within their area(s) of responsibility;
  3. Coordinate with SUA Using Agencies in accordance with WRA Letters of Agreement (LOA), unless other coordination procedures are established by an agreement.

NOTE-

An example of an agreement containing other coordination procedures for SUA is the LOA between Washington Center, New York Center, Boston Center, Jacksonville Center, Air Traffic Control System Command Center and Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, Virginia Capes that defines coordination and control procedures governing the use of SUA operated by FACSFAC VACAPES.

  1. Issue the WRA NOTAM, as applicable.
  2. Relay any operational concerns to the ATCSCC for further evaluation and coordination.
  3. When designated by ATCSCC as the Primary ATC Facility, ARTCC responsibilities include:
  1. When necessary, coordinate with the Chief, Aerial Reconnaissance Coordinator, All Hurricanes (CARCAH) and aircrew(s) on flight plan specifics.
  2. If the mission profile changes, coordinate with the ATCSCC for FEA modifications, ensure other affected ATC facilities are aware of the change.
  3. Advise the ATCSCC and other affected ATC facilities of any mission cancellation or delay information received from the flying unit.
  1. Should it become necessary for ATC to contact a TEAL or NOAA flight and all other methods of communication are not possible (e.g., direct radio, New York Radio, San Francisco Radio, aircraft relay), CARCAH may be requested to relay messages to/from the aircraft. CARCAH may phone the appropriate ATC facility to authenticate the request.
  1. Requests to change any portion of the NHOP or MOA must be coordinated with ATO System Operations Security.
  1. OPEN SKIES TREATY AIRCRAFT PRIORITY FLIGHTS (F and D)
  1. The ATCSCC CARF must be the FAA coordination unit between the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and field facilities for all OPEN SKIES operational information. This includes initial notification and follow-up information on each mission that requires priority handling.

NOTE-

OPEN SKIES flights that require priority handling are located in FAA Order JO 7110.65, paragraph 9-2-23.

  1. ARTCCs/CERAPs/HCF must designate and advise the CARF of a focal point within that facility for OPEN SKIES information.
  2. Advance scheduled movement information of OPEN SKIES aircraft received from the DTRA will be forwarded by the CARF.
  3. Upon initial notification of a priority OPEN SKIES flight, the affected ARTCCs/CERAPs/HCF must inform all SUA-using/scheduling agencies along the route of flight and any other facility/agency it deems necessary within their area of responsibility of the flight path and possible deviation path of the aircraft. A letter of agreement is required between the using agency and the controlling agency for Open Skies (F and D) aircraft to transit active SUA. When Open Skies (F and D) aircraft transit SUA, an ATC facility must provide approved separation services at all times.

NOTE-

OPEN SKIES flights will not deviate from approved route of flight without ATC clearance.

REFERENCE-

FAA Order JO 7110.65, Para 9-2-23c1(a)(1), Open Skies Treaty Aircraft.

  1. The air traffic manager of each facility through which the priority OPEN SKIES aircraft transits must ensure that a supervisory specialist(s)/CIC monitors the aircraft while in the facility's airspace. The supervisory specialist(s)/CIC must monitor the movement of the priority OPEN SKIES aircraft from the flight's entry into the facility's airspace until the flight exits the facility's airspace to ensure that priority handling, separation, control, and coordination are accomplished.

NOTE-

Procedures that address GPS Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) when transiting an active GPS interference mission area are described in FAA Order JO 7610.4, paragraph 2-7-7, Stop Buzzer Procedures for GPS Interference Missions.

REFERENCE-

FAA Order JO 7110.65, Subpara 2-1-4n, Operational Priority.
FAA Order JO 7110.65, Para 9-2-22, Open Skies Treaty Aircraft.
TREATY ON OPEN SKIES, TREATY DOC. 102-37.

  1. Air traffic facilities must notify the CARF (540-422-4212/4213) and DTRA Operations (703-767-2003) immediately in the event of any incidents or problems generated by OPEN SKIES aircraft.
  2. The CARF must immediately notify System Operations Security/Strategic Operations Security for resolution of problems or incidents, if necessary.
  1. FOREIGN STATE DIPLOMATIC FLIGHTS

Diplomatic clearances that authorize foreign state aircraft (military or non-military) to operate in U.S. territorial airspace for a specific time and purpose are approved by the U.S. State Department. Except for Open Skies Treaty priority flights, foreign state diplomatic flights are non-priority. Contact the FAA System Operations Support Center (SOSC) (202-267-8276 or email 9-ATOR-HQ-RT-REQ@faa.gov) with questions or issues concerning foreign state diplomatic flights.