Appendix 8. FAA Special Use Airspace Environmental Processing Procedures


This appendix provides guidance for FAA participation in the environmental review of proposed special use airspace (SUA) actions. The requirements in this appendix are in addition to the airspace proposal processing procedures contained in this order and Appendix 4. The aeronautical and environmental processes for SUA proposals involve some overlap; actions taken, or modifications made to a proposal, in one process may affect the actions required and/or the outcome of the other process.


a. The SUA program is designed to accommodate national security requirements and military training activities wherein activities must be confined to designated airspace because of their nature, or in airspace where limitations are imposed upon aircraft operations.

b. SUA proposals are subject to both NEPA and aeronautical processing requirements. Since the FAA is the approval authority for SUA actions, the agency cannot make a final decision on any particular SUA proposal prior to the completion of the NEPA and aeronautical processing phases.


The following policies apply to the processing of SUA proposals:

a. In addition to responsibilities of a cooperating agency as defined in the NEPA implementing regulations at 40 CFR Parts 1500-1508, FAA must:

1. Provide to DoD information and technical expertise within the special expertise and jurisdiction of the FAA as it relates to the proposed action.

2. Resolve or respond to environmental issues raised during the NEPA process relating to aeronautical issues.

3. If an EA or EIS is required, identify and evaluate the environmental impacts relating to the proposal.

4. Furnish to DoD the names of organizations, agencies, or other parties the FAA believes may be interested in the DoD proposal.

5. Notify and coordinate FAA proposed airspace actions with DoD components that may be affected.

b. FAA Participation in NEPA Meetings. The FAA may be required to participate in scoping, interagency, and public NEPA meetings conducted by the Proponent. The Air Traffic Service Center Director (or the Director's Designee) with responsibility for Cooperating Agency participation will determine FAA representation in the meetings. When FAA personnel participate in such meetings:

1. The audience must be informed that FAA participation is to provide aeronautical technical expertise and is not to be construed as FAA endorsement or support of any SUA proposal, and that no decisions concerning the proposal will be made at the meeting.

2. If requested, the FAA will provide an overview of the procedures followed by the FAA for processing SUA proposals.

3. The FAA will advise the audience of the Service Center handling the processing of the aeronautical proposal. Written comments on the aeronautical aspects of the proposal should be submitted during the public comment period associated with the aeronautical circularization.

c. FAA NEPA Compliance Options. In accordance with CEQ regulations at 40 CFR §1501.6, the FAA must participate in the DoD Proponent's NEPA process as a Cooperating Agency in cases where the FAA has jurisdiction by law, and may participate as a Cooperating Agency where the FAA has special expertise. The FAA may adopt an EA or EIS prepared by the DoD Proponent if the FAA independently evaluates the information in the document and takes full responsibility for the scope and content that addresses FAA actions. Where the Proponent's NEPA documentation is deficient and does not meet the requirements for adoption in FAA Order 1050.1, corrections and/or additional NEPA documentation must be made by the Proponent before the FAA can make a final decision to adopt the document. The FAA may ask the DoD Proponent to correct any deficiencies and re-submit the document (see FAA Order 1050.1, Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures, paragraphs 2-2.1 and 2-2.2). The FAA must issue its own Adoption EA/FONSI or Adoption EIS/ROD in accordance with FAA Order 1050.1, Paragraph 8-2, Adoption of Other Agencies' National Environmental Policy Act Documents.

d. Time Limits for Final Environmental Impact Statements (EIS). If three years have expired following the approval of a final EIS, and major steps towards implementation of the Proponent's proposed action have not commenced, the Proponent agency must prepare a written reevaluation of the adequacy, accuracy, and validity of the final EIS. Written reevaluations must comply with the requirements set forth in FAA Order 1050.1, paragraph 9-2. The Proponent may also elect to prepare new documentation if circumstances dictate.


The FAA/DoD MOU provides for the application of “lead agency" and “cooperating agency" responsibilities in the SUA environmental process. When the DoD is the Proponent, the DoD will serve as lead agency for the evaluation of SUA environmental impacts and the preparation and processing of environmental documents.

a. The DoD, as lead agency, will determine whether an SUA proposal:

1. Is a major action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment requiring an environmental impact statement (EIS);

2. Requires an environmental assessment (EA); or,

3. Is categorically excluded in accordance with FAA Order 1050.1, paragraphs 5-6.1 through 5-6.5.

These determinations must be coordinated with the FAA at the earliest possible time to prevent delay in preparation of any required NEPA documentation.

b. The appropriate FAA Service Center, as identified in response to the DoD Proponent's request that the FAA participate as a Cooperating Agency, will act as the point of contact during the evaluation of the proposal's environmental study. The FAA should review documents prepared by the Proponent in its environmental process for scope and content of the documentation and assumes responsibility as described in subparagraph 3c, above. (See FAA Order 1050.1, paragraph 8-2.)

c. Where the actions of one agency are subject to a categorical exclusion, and the actions of the other agency with respect to the same SUA, are not covered under a categorical exclusion, then the other agency will prepare an environmental assessment (EA). The applicability of a categorical exclusion by either the DoD Proponent or the FAA will be noted in the other agency's EA. FAA budget constraints may delay processing and implementation of the DoD Proponent's SUA proposal when a comparable categorical exclusion covering the same type of proposed action as the DoD's Proponent is not listed in FAA Order 1050.1, chapter 5.


In addition to other environmental considerations required under NEPA, CEQ regulations, and FAA Order 1050.1, the following are items the FAA should consider, if applicable, in SUA environmental documents. These items include, but are not limited to:

a. Other Times by NOTAM. When specified in the proposal, this provision permits access to the SUA area 24 hours per day. The environmental document must address the potential impacts of the DoD users' activities within the SUA during the “other times by NOTAM" period of use.

b. Flares and Chaff. Address the potential impact of flare and/or chaff use when this activity is specified in the SUA proposal.

c. “No Action Alternative." Include discussion of this alternative.

d. Coastal Zone Consistency Determination. Include if applicable.

e. Proposed Airspace Parameters. The environmental analysis in a CatEx, EA, or EIS for the SUA proposal must match the airspace parameters contained in the SUA proposal (for example, boundaries, altitudes, times of use, and type and extent of activities).

f. Non-participating Aircraft. Include a discussion of the effect of the SUA proposed action on non-participating aircraft, if applicable.

g. Mitigation. As defined in CEQ regulations, mitigation includes:

1. Avoiding the impact altogether by not taking a certain action or parts of an action;

2. Minimizing impacts by limiting the degree or magnitude of the action and its implementation;

3. Rectifying the impact by repairing, rehabilitating, or restoring the affected environment;

4. Reducing or eliminating the impact over time by preservation and maintenance operations during the life of the action; and

5. Compensating for the impact by replacing or providing substitute resources or environments.

h. Cumulative Impacts. Cumulative impacts to the environment are those that result from the incremental impact of the action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (Federal or Non-Federal) or person undertakes such other actions. Cumulative impacts can result from individually minor but collectively significant actions taking place over a period of time.

i. Consultation. Consultation must be conducted in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act, Section 106; the Endangered Species Act, Section 7; FAA Order 1210.20, American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Consultation Policy and Procedures, and other applicable laws, regulations, and Department of Transportation and FAA orders.


To facilitate early coordination between the FAA and the DoD Proponent, the DoD Proponent must make a request to the FAA for Cooperating Agency status as soon as the Proponent decides to initiate the environmental process.

When the FAA is invited to participate as a cooperating agency, it is suggested that a planning meeting be held as soon as practical. The agenda of the meeting should be based on the type of SUA proposal and the extent of the planned environmental analysis.

a. The appropriate Regional Military Representative (Milrep) will coordinate the Proponent's request for a planning meeting with the appropriate Service Center Director (or his/her designee). Representatives of the FAA, the Proponent, and the Proponent's NEPA consultant, if any, should be invited to participate by the military representative.

b. The meeting should include discussion of pertinent issues, including but not limited to:

1. The type of SUA proposal to be submitted,

2. Identification of points-of-contact and establishment of liaison between concerned parties,

3. Determination of the appropriate type of environmental documentation,

4. The appropriate extent of FAA participation,

5. Identification of potentially significant impacts,

6. Consideration of the need for scoping, interagency, and/or other public meetings,

7. Setting processing milestones,

8. Clarifying any questions the Proponent may have regarding the FAA's requirements for the environmental analysis and documentation; and,

9. Exchange of information on any environmental and/or aeronautical concerns in the area of potential effect.

c. At the meeting, the Service Center Airspace Specialist should:

1. Brief attendees on the airspace processing procedures in Part 5 of this order that will apply to the SUA proposal.

2. Encourage the Proponent to work proactively with aviation user groups and individuals to address aeronautical issues as they arise. This should ensure early consideration of aeronautical mitigation.

d. At the meeting, the Service Center environmental representative should:

1. Brief attendees on the environmental processing procedures in FAA Order 1050.1 and Chapter 33 of this order that apply to the SUA proposal.

2. Encourage the Proponent to work proactively with other Federal, State, and Local agencies; Tribal Governments; and the public on environmental concerns as they arise. This will ensure that mitigation to address environmental concerns is considered early in the process.

3. Advise attendees that the FAA cannot render a final determination on the environmental effects of the SUA proposal until after completion of the Proponent's environmental process, the FAA's aeronautical process, the FAA's independent review of the Proponent's environmental documentation, and any additional environmental analyses conducted by the FAA.

e. The meeting format may be tailored to the needs of the specific proposal. It may be conducted by a teleconference, if permitted by the scope of the proposal or if necessary due to funding or other constraints.

f. Additional meetings should be scheduled as needed to discuss changes, revise milestones, share updated environmental and/or aeronautical impact data or public comments, discuss alteration of the proposal in order to mitigate valid aeronautical objections, incorporate agreements by the Proponent to mitigate environmental impacts, or discuss other matters.


a. SUA proposals are subject to both environmental and aeronautical processing requirements. These processes are separate but closely related. Any actions by a Proponent to mitigate environmental impacts, and/or changes to the proposal to address valid aeronautical objections, may alter the type and extent of environmental analysis required.

b. Normally, the SUA Proponent will initiate the environmental process well in advance of submitting an actual SUA proposal to the FAA for review. The appropriate Milrep should inform the appropriate Service Center as soon as possible after receiving notice that a DoD Proponent plans to initiate the environmental study process. A letter requesting FAA participation in the environmental study process as a Cooperating Agency should be forwarded to the Director, Policy, AJV-P, Mission Support at FAA Headquarters.

c. Proponents should submit SUA proposals to the applicable FAA Service Center prior to completion of the NEPA process. This will enable the FAA to initiate the aeronautical processing phase prior to completion of any required NEPA documents, which will facilitate the earlier consideration of aeronautical factors that may result in modification of the proposal and may affect the environmental analysis. In all cases, the FAA will defer a final decision on the proposal until the required DoD Proponent's NEPA documentation is completed.

d. During the aeronautical processing of a proposal with alternatives, only the alternative submitted to the FAA in accordance with Part 5. of this order will be subjected to the aeronautical process described in this order (such as non-rulemaking circularization or Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)) by the FAA. However, all reasonable alternatives, including the alternative of no action, must be evaluated in the DoD SUA Proponent's environmental document.


a. Normally, FAA participation in the SUA environmental process will begin at the headquarters level with a request by the Proponent of an SUA proposal for the FAA to participate in the process as a Cooperating Agency. However, the FAA point of contact will generally be a representative from the Air Traffic Organization at the Service Center level. Close coordination is required between the Service Center Airspace Specialist and Environmental Specialist throughout the process. This will ensure that FAA concerns are provided to the Proponent for consideration, and that NEPA and DOT/FAA environmental requirements are met.

b. Once notified of the initiation of the environmental process by the DoD SUA Proponent, the Service Center Environmental Specialist should request that the Proponent provide an electronic copy of all preliminary, draft, and final environmental documents for FAA review. The Service Center Environmental Specialist will forward these documents to FAA Headquarters Rules and Regulations Group (AJV-P2).

c. To the extent practicable, the Service Center should provide FAA representation at pre-scoping, scoping, and/or other NEPA public meetings concerning the SUA proposal. If requested by the Service Center, representation from the headquarters Airspace Policy and/or Airspace Management Groups will be provided.

d. Service Center Airspace Specialist Responsibilities:

1. Coordinate requests from the Milrep to schedule an interagency SUA environmental planning meeting with the Service Center Director (or the Director's designee) and the environmental specialist.

2. Participate in interagency SUA environmental planning meetings as directed, by the Service Center Director (or the Director's designee). (See paragraph 6, above.)

3. Participate in pre-scoping, scoping and/or other public meetings as directed.

4. Provide information and assistance as required to the Proponent regarding the aeronautical aspects of the proposal and processing procedures under Part 5 of this order.

5. Coordinate with and assist the Environmental Specialist in the review of environmental documents to ensure consideration of pertinent aeronautical issues. Compare the SUA proposal parameters with the analysis in the environmental document to ensure that the analysis is consistent with the Proponent's airspace request. Provide corrections and/or comments to the environmental specialist for transmittal to the Proponent.

6. Maintain liaison with the Proponent's environmental team to determine if any comments received pertain to aeronautical issues; provide information regarding the aeronautical aspects of alternatives developed by the Proponent.

7. Provide to the Proponent aeronautical impact information obtained from the formal aeronautical study conducted in accordance with Chapter 21 of this order and during the aeronautical public comment period. As required, negotiate with the Proponent to modify the proposal to mitigate valid aeronautical objections or adverse aeronautical impact.

8. Upon receipt of the SUA proposal, initiate processing in accordance with Part 5 of this order.

(a) Determine if an Informal Airspace Meeting will be held in accordance with the procedures in Part 5. of this order. If a meeting is planned, request participation by the Proponent to explain and answer questions about the proposal.


Informal Airspace Meetings are optional for SUA proposals. Normally, they are held only if the Service Center determines that there is a need to obtain additional aeronautical facts and information relevant to the SUA proposal under study. Informal airspace meetings may also be held based on known or anticipated controversy of the proposal.

(b) Complete the appropriate rulemaking or non-rulemaking processing requirements as defined in Part 5 of this order.

9. In consultation with the Service Center Environmental Specialist and the Regional Counsel, review the Proponent's decision document to ensure that it is consistent with any modifications made to the SUA proposal, if applicable, and that any agreed upon aeronautical mitigation measures are included.

10. If the Service Center Airspace Specialist recommends approval of the SUA proposal, submit the completed proposal package to the Airspace and Rules Team (AJV-P21) for final review and determination.

e. Service Center Environmental Specialist Responsibilities:

1. Coordinate as required with the Service Center Airspace Specialist regarding SUA matters.

2. Notify the Rules and Regulations Group (AJV-P2) when informed of scheduled interagency SUA environmental planning meetings. Participate in planning meetings as directed by the Service Center Director (or the Director's designee) (see paragraph 6 above). Provide a review copy of the Proponent's environmental documentation to FAA HQ AJV-P21 and request their participation in environmental planning meetings as necessary.

3. Provide information as required to the SUA Proponent regarding FAA environmental requirements and concerns.

4. In coordination with the Service Center Airspace Specialist, review the SUA Proponent's environmental documents to ensure that applicable impact categories and any specific FAA environmental concerns are considered. After each review, forward any corrections and FAA comments to the Proponent.

5. Review the Proponent's final document to assess whether it meets the standards for an adequate document under NEPA, the CEQ regulations, DOT Order 5610.1C, and FAA Order 1050.1. Following consultation with the Regional Counsel, determine if the FAA considers the document adequate for adoption. If so, prepare a draft Adoption document and provide a copy of the draft to FAA HQ AJV-P2 for review and comment, and to Regional Counsel or HQ AGC-600 for a Legal Sufficiency Review (LSR). In cases where the DoD Proponent's NEPA document does not meet the above-listed standards, the Service Center Environmental Specialist must return the document to the DoD Proponent for correction or additional analysis and documentation. Provide documentation of the results of each review and a recommendation regarding FAA adoption to the Rules and Regulations Group (AJV-P2).

6. If the DoD SUA Proponent determines that a DoD categorical exclusion (CATEX) applies to an SUA proposal:

(a) Determine if FAA Order 1050.1, Chapter 5, Categorical Exclusions, lists a CATEX that adequately covers the action. Verify that no extraordinary circumstances exist that would preclude use of the CATEX for the SUA proposal. Determine what additional environmental analysis would be required if the CATEX is not listed. Where the actions of one agency are subject to a categorical exclusion, and the actions of the other agency, with respect to the same SUA proposal require an EA, the agency requiring the EA will prepare the appropriate environmental analysis with the assistance of the Proponent. Applicability of a CATEX to parts of a proposed action of one of the agencies will be noted in the EA. Background information in support of CATEXs or project data necessary to support adequate impact analysis in an EA, identified by either DoD or FAA, must be forwarded to the agency requiring preparation of the EA and may be used by either agency, as allowed by their respective regulations/directives.

(b) Document the results of the review in subparagraph (a) above, and submit the findings to the Rules and Regulations Group (AJV-P2).

7. Retain the administrative record in accordance with FAA retention guidelines. If DoD is the lead agency for the proposed project, a copy of DoD Proponent's NEPA document, their letter requesting Cooperating Agency status, FAA's acceptance, and other supporting documentation should be included in FAA's administrative record.


a. Review the Proponent's environmental document(s) to verify that the analysis matches the parameters specified in the SUA aeronautical proposal and that any required environmental issues are adequately analyzed for potential impacts. Verify that the environmental analysis matches the parameters specified in the SUA proposal and that any required aeronautical issues are considered.Conduct this review simultaneously with the Service Center's review as described in paragraph 8. Provide corrections and identify deficiencies to the Service Center Airspace and/or Environmental Specialist for transmittal to the Proponent.

b. The Rules and Regulations Group (AJV-P2) must review the Proponent's environmental documents for content and compliance with NEPA, CEQ regulations, and applicable DOT and FAA Orders. Coordinate within the Rules and Regulations Group (AJV-P2) as needed, regarding concerns, corrections, or other comments on aeronautical impacts. Provide FAA Headquarters' comments to the Service Center Environmental Specialist for transmittal to the Proponent.

c. Ensure that the Service Center Airspace Specialist has provided a copy of the SUA aeronautical proposal, including any environmental documentation, to the Service Center Environmental Specialist. Provide assistance and policy guidance regarding SUA environmental processing to the Service Center Environmental Specialist upon request.

d. Coordinate within the Rules and Regulations Group (AJV-P2) as needed for additional information concerning the SUA proposal including any airspace and aeronautical impact matters.

e. Assist the Service Center Environmental Specialist in reviewing the Proponent's Final EIS or EA/Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), and the Service Center Environmental Specialist's comments regarding compliance with NEPA, CEQ, and applicable DOT and FAA requirements. Assist the Service Center Environmental Specialist in determining if the Proponent's NEPA document is suitable for adoption by the FAA. Assist the Service Center Environmental Specialist in preparing the FAA adoption documentation in accordance with FAA Order 1050.1, chapter 8, paragraph 8-2; and keep a copy with the Rules and Regulations Group (AJV-P2) for inclusion in the airspace docket or case file.

f. Review the Proponent's and Service Center Environmental Specialist's comments regarding applicability of a CATEX. If a CATEX does not apply, determine if additional environmental analysis is required. Consider if CATEX documentation is required in accordance with FAA Order 1050.1, chapter 5. Provide a copy of the determination to the Rules and Regulations Group (AJV-P2) for inclusion in the airspace docket or case file.

g. As appropriate, coordinate with the FAA Office of the Chief Counsel, Airports and Environmental Law Division. See FAA Order 1050.1, paragraphs 2-2.1b(2)(b); 4-3.3, 5-2a(2) and b(10); 5-3e; 6-4a; 7-1.2b; 7-1.2d(3)(c); 8-2c;8-7; 9-2e; 10-2b, d, e; 10-3b; 10-4a(2); 10-6a(2), b; 11-3; 11-4a, b.

h. Ensure that the FAA has adopted the Proponent's EIS or EA as applicable, that all additional FAA environmental requirements are satisfied, and that final decision notices are not published in the Federal Register until after the NEPA process is completed. Submit copies of the DoD Proponent's and FAA's NEPA documentation for inclusion in the rulemaking docket file or non-rulemaking airspace case file.

i. For rulemaking SUA actions, prepare the environmental compliance statement for inclusion in the ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW sections of the NPRM and Final Rule. Insert the following statement in the environmental review section of SUA NPRMs:

“This proposal will be subject to appropriate environmental impact analysis by the FAA prior to any final FAA regulatory action.”

For non-rulemaking SUA actions, include the DoD Proponent's and FAA's NEPA documentation for the airspace case file, and notify the public in accordance with FAA Order 1050.1, paragraph 6-2.2b.


For “Direct-to-Final-Rule” actions which are categorically excluded under FAA Order 1050.1, the following statement may be inserted in the environmental review section of the Final Rule:

“This action is categorically excluded under FAA Order 1050.1, Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures, Paragraph (insert Paragraph Number). Therefore, this action is not subject to further environmental review.”

j. Prepare and provide a signature copy of the Final FAA Adoption NEPA document to the manager of the Rules and Regulations Group (AJV-P2) for signature. Provide a signed copy to the Service Center's Environmental Specialist for additional distribution as necessary or requested.