Section 1. Policy


The primary purpose of the Special Use Airspace (SUA) program is to establish/designate airspace in the interest of national defense, security, or interest. Charted SUA identifies to other airspace users where these activities occur.


SUA is not intended to benefit an individual or commercial operator over the public's right of transit through the navigable airspace.

  1. SCOPE

In addition to the policy guidelines and procedures detailed in Part 1 of this order, this part prescribes specific policies and procedures for handling SUA cases.

  1. SUA is airspace of defined dimensions wherein activities must be confined because of their nature, or wherein limitations may be imposed upon aircraft operations that are not a part of those activities, or both.
  2. The types of SUA areas are Prohibited Area, Restricted Area, Military Operations Area (MOA), Warning Area, Alert Area, Controlled Firing Area (CFA), and National Security Area (NSA).


  1. Air Traffic Control Assigned Airspace (ATCAAs) below FL 180, and Altitude Reservations (ALTRVs) must not be used as a substitute for SUA when conducting activities for which a SUA is designed to contain.
  2. Since ATCAAs and ALTRVs are not depicted on aeronautical charts, they do not inform the flying public of the location of the activity as is provided by charted SUA. 
  3. Additionally, ATCAAs and ALTRVs are not to be used as an interim solution while a SUA proposal is pending.

There are two categories of SUA: regulatory (rulemaking) and other than regulatory (nonrulemaking). Prohibited Areas and Restricted Areas are rulemaking actions that are designated by amendment to part 73. MOAs, Warning Areas, Alert Areas, and NSAs are implemented by nonrulemaking action published in a National Flight Data Digest (NFDD). CFAs are implemented by nonrulemaking action published in an approval letter by the Operations Support Group (OSG).


FAA Headquarters is the final approval authority for all permanent and temporary SUA, except CFAs. CFA approval authority is delegated to the Service Center OSG. The Service Center OSG must forward SUA proposals recommended for approval (except CFA) to FAA Headquarters for a final determination.


Final approval of Warning Areas requires consultation with other agencies per Executive Order 10854. Warning Area proposals, except for controlling/using agency changes or minor editorial corrections, must be coordinated with the Department of State and the Department of Defense for concurrence. The Rules and Regulations Group, AJV-P2, is responsible for accomplishing this coordination.


The dimensions and time of designation/times of use of SUA must be the minimum required for containing the proposed activities, including safety zones required by the proponent. When it is determined that a specified SUA area is no longer required, the using agency, or their appropriate headquarters authority, must inform the Service Center OSG that action may be initiated to remove and return the SUA airspace to the NAS.

  1. To ensure the optimum use of airspace, military using agencies must, where mission requirements permit, make their assigned SUA available for the activities of other military units on a shared-use basis.
  2. SUA should be located to impose minimum impact on nonparticipating aircraft and ATC operations, with consideration of the proponent's requirements. To the extent practical, SUA should avoid Air Traffic Service routes, major terminal areas, and known high volume VFR routes.
  3. Large SUA areas should be subdivided, where feasible, in order to facilitate the real-time release of the airspace when activation of the entire area is not required by the using agency.
  1. SUA must be returned to the controlling agency and become available for access by nonparticipating aircraft during periods when the airspace is not needed by the using agency for its designated purpose.
  2. Restricted areas, warning areas, and MOAs must be designated as joint-use unless it is demonstrated that this would result in negative impacts to the using agency's mission. For certain SUA areas, joint-use may be impractical because of the area's small size, geographic location, or high level of use. In these cases, the airspace proposal package must include specific justification addressing why joint-use is not appropriate.
  3. Joint-use does not apply to prohibited areas. Alert areas and CFAs are joint-use by design because nonparticipating aircraft may transit these areas without limitation.
  4. Joint-use procedures must be specified in a joint-use Letter of Agreement (LOA) or Letter of Procedure (LOP) between the using agency and the controlling agency. These letters should include provisions for the real-time activation/deactivation of the airspace and timely notification to the controlling agency when the scheduled activity has changed, been canceled, or was completed for the day.
  1. SUA actions are subject to environmental impact analysis in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). Guidance for the environmental analysis of SUA proposals is contained in FAA Order 1050.1, Environmental Impacts; Policies and Procedures; Chapter 33 of this order; other relevant FAA directives; and the Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense for Environmental Review of Special Use Airspace Actions at Appendix 7 of Chapter 33 of this order. All environmental impact analyses and reviews must be coordinated with the airspace specialist and the environmental specialist of the appropriate Service Center OSG to ensure that SUA using agencies' environmental impact review and documentation are consistent with known regulations, proposals, and applicable studies.
  2. Advisory Actions. Designation of alert areas and warning areas are considered advisory actions under FAA Order 1050.1. Actions of this type are not considered major Federal actions under NEPA, and NEPA review is therefore not required.
  3. Categorical Exclusions. The following SUA actions are categorically excluded, provided it is determined that no extraordinary circumstances, as specified in FAA Order 1050.1, exist:
  1. Actions to return all or part of SUA to the NAS, such as revocation of airspace, a decrease in dimensions, or a reduction in times of use (e.g., from continuous to intermittent, or use by a NOTAM).
  2. Modification of the technical description of SUA that does not alter the dimensions, altitudes, or times of designation of the airspace (such as changes in designation of the controlling or using agency, or correction of typographical errors).
  3. Designation of CFAs.
  4. Actions to increase the altitude of SUA.

The controlling agency is the FAA ATC facility that exercises control of the airspace when a SUA area is not activated. A military ATC facility may be assigned as the controlling agency, subject to the concurrence of the Service Center OSG and the concerned ARTCC. A controlling agency must be designated for each joint-use SUA area.

  1. The using agency is the organization, or military command/unit whose activity established the requirement for the SUA. The using agency is responsible for ensuring that:
  1. The airspace is used only for its designated purpose.
  2. Scheduling procedures are established, utilized, and captured in an LOA/LOP.
  3. The controlling agency is kept informed of changes in scheduled activity, to include the completion of activities for the day.
  4. A point of contact is made available to enable the controlling agency to verify schedules, and coordinate access for emergencies, weather diversions, etc.


FAA Order JO 7400.2, Para 21-1-6, Using Agency.


FAA Order JO 7610.4, Chapter 9, Military Operations Requirements(For Official Use Only).

  1. Restricted area and MOA using agencies are responsible for submitting Restricted Area/MOA Annual Utilization Reports in accordance with Section 7 of this chapter.
  2. An ATC facility may be designated as the using agency for joint-use areas when that facility has been granted priority for use of the airspace in a joint-use LOA/LOP.

The establishment of SUA does not, in itself, waive compliance with any part of the Code of Federal Regulations. DoD has been granted a number of waivers, exemptions, and authorizations to accomplish specific missions. Information about current waivers, exemptions, and authorizations granted for military operations may be obtained from FAA Headquarters, Rules and Regulations Group, or the Office of Rulemaking (ARM).


Public notice procedures invite the public to comment on the impact of SUA proposals on the safe and efficient use of the navigable airspace. In addition to the public notice procedures described in Chapter 2 of this order, SUA proposals are subject to the following:

  1. All nonregulatory SUA proposals must be circularized, and an NPRM must be issued for all regulatory SUA proposals, except for those actions that clearly have no impact on aviation and are not controversial. A nonrulemaking circular or NPRM is not normally required for the following types of proposals:
  1. Changes to the using or controlling agency.
  2. Editorial changes to correct typographical errors.
  3. Internal subdivision of an existing area to enhance real-time use of the SUA (provided there is no expansion of the existing external boundaries).
  4. Actions that lessen the burden on the flying public by revoking the SUA areas or reducing the size or times of use of SUA.
  1. SUA nonrulemaking circulars are prepared and distributed by the Service Center OSG. FAA Headquarters prepares SUA NPRMs. Normally, circulars and NPRMs provide a minimum of 45 days for public comment.
  2. When comments or coordination show that the proposal may be controversial, or there is a need to obtain additional information relevant to the proposal, an informal airspace meeting may be considered (see Chapter 2 of this order).
  1. Prepare and distribute SUA nonrulemaking circulars as specified in Chapter 2 of this order and the additional requirements in this paragraph. Ensure wide dissemination to the potentially affected aviation user community within 50 NM (recommended) of the affected airspace. Send one copy of each SUA circular to the Rules and Regulations Group, AJV-P2, and to the appropriate Service Center OSG military representative(s).
  2. CONTENT - Circulars should contain sufficient information to assist interested persons in preparing comments on the aeronautical impact of the proposal. SUA circulars should only address SUA areas and include:
  1. A brief narrative that:
  1. Describes the purpose of the proposed airspace, the types of activities to be conducted, and the expected frequency of those activities. If the proposal modifies existing SUA, describe the changes and explain the desired result. For temporary MOA proposals, include a brief summary of the planned exercise or mission scenario.
  2. Discusses measures planned to minimize impact on nonparticipating aircraft, such as airport exclusions, joint-use procedures, limited activation times, etc. If there are known plans to provide real time area status information and/or traffic advisory services for nonparticipating pilots, include that information in the circular.
  1. A complete description of the proposed area consisting of boundaries, altitudes, times of use, controlling agency, and using agency.
  2. A copy of a sectional aeronautical chart depicting the boundaries of the proposed area.
  3. The name and address (provided by the proponent) of the person to whom comments on the environmental and land-use aspects of the proposal may be submitted.


Do not include statements in the circular that certify NEPA compliance or state that environmental studies are complete. The proponent and/or FAA must consider any environmental issues raised in response to the circular before a final determination is made on the proposal.

  1. The issue date of the circular and the specific date that the comment period ends. Provide at least 45-days for public comment.


When selecting the comment closing date, consider the time needed for the preparation, printing and release of the circular, plus a representative mailing time, in order to afford the public at least 45 days to submit comments.

  1. SPECIAL DISTRIBUTION - In addition to the distribution requirements in Chapter 2 of this order, send copies of SUA nonrulemaking circulars to:
  1. State transportation, aviation, and environmental departments (or the state clearing house if requested by the state).
  2. Local government authorities, civic organizations, interest groups, or individuals that may not have an aeronautical interest, but are expected to become involved in a specific proposal.
  3. Persons or organizations that have requested to be added to the circularization list.


  1. The Service Center OSG determines additional distribution requirements in accordance with Service Center OSG policies after considering the type of proposal, potential for controversy, and extent of possible aeronautical impact.
  2. If the proposed airspace overlaps service area geographical boundaries or airspace jurisdictions, the lead Service Center OSG must coordinate with the affected adjacent Service Center OSG to ensure distribution of circulars to all appropriate parties.
  1. All SUA areas except CFAs, temporary MOAs, and temporary restricted areas, must be depicted on aeronautical charts, and published as required in aeronautical publications.
  2. Approved SUA actions normally become effective on the 56-day charting dates published in FAA Order 8260.26, Appendix A.
    Effective dates for temporary restricted areas, temporary MOAs, and CFAs are determined by exercise start dates/mission requirements instead of the 56-day charting dates.
  3. Temporary areas must be described in the Domestic Notices found in the Federal NOTAM System (FNS) External Links or the Air Traffic Plans and Publications website. Normally, issuance of the graphic notice will begin two issues prior to the exercise start date and will continue through completion of the exercise. The notice must include the area's legal description, effective dates, and a chart depicting the area boundaries. For large exercises, a brief narrative describing the exercise scenario, activities, numbers and types of aircraft involved, and the availability of in-flight activity status information for nonparticipating pilots should be included.


The Service Center OSG must submit temporary SUA Domestic Notice information, along with the airspace proposal package, to the Rules and Regulations Group, AJV-P2, by the dates specified in the appropriate chapter of this order. All graphics submitted must be of high quality and in camera ready form. The Rules and Regulations Group, AJV-P2, will process and submit the Domestic Notice to Publications and Administration, AJV-P12 for download into the Domestic Notices found in the Federal NOTAM System (FNS) External Links or the Air Traffic Plans and Publications website.

  1. When a SUA action becomes effective before it appears on the affected sectional chart(s), a description and map of the area will be presented in the Domestic Notices found in the Federal NOTAM System (FNS) External Links or the Air Traffic Plans and Publications website. This information will be carried in the Domestic Notices until the change has appeared on the affected sectional chart(s). The Rules and Regulations Group, AJV-P2, is responsible for complying with this requirement.


Minor editorial corrections to a SUA description or changes to the using or controlling agencies will not be published in the Domestic Notices.

  1. Geographic positional data for all permanent and temporary SUA boundaries, except CFAs, must be certified for accuracy by the AIS. The Rules and Regulations Group, AJV-P2, is responsible for submitting proposed positional data to AIS for certification. Latitude and longitude positions used in SUA descriptions must be based on North American Datum 83 (NAD 83).
  2. The Rules and Regulations Group, AJV-P2, must forward any corrections or recommended changes made by AIS to the Service Center OSG. The Service Center OSG will forward the AIS recommended changes to the Service Center OSG military representative(s), or civil proponent, for review. The Service Center OSG military representative(s)/civil proponent will inform the Service Center OSG of its concurrence with the AIS recommended changes or reason for nonconcurrence. The Service Center OSG will advise the Rules and Regulations Group, AJV-P2, of the proponent's concurrence or nonconcurrence and rationale. A record of this coordination must be retained in the airspace docket or nonrulemaking study file.
  1. The Service Center OSG that is responsible for the geographical area containing the affected airspace processes the SUA proposal. When a proposal overlaps Service Center geographical jurisdictions, the concerned Service Centers must coordinate to determine which office will serve as the lead Service Center for processing the proposal. Coordination between both Service Centers is also required when the SUA airspace and the using agency/controlling agency are under the jurisdiction of different Service Centers.
  2. The lead Service Center OSG must ensure that:
  1. All affected ATC facilities review the proposal and provide input to the aeronautical study, as required.
  2. Distribution of nonrulemaking circulars include interested parties in each Service Center OSG jurisdiction, as necessary.
  1. The airspace package(s) submitted to the Rules and Regulations Group, AJV-P2, include documentation confirming Service Center OSG coordination.