Section 4. Processing Nonrulemaking Airspace Actions


This section prescribes the procedures to be followed when establishing, modifying, or revoking nonrulemaking airspace.


Nonrulemaking cases are identified by a study number. The study number includes the last two digits of the calendar year, the appropriate FAA regional or airports office abbreviation that the action falls within, a consecutively assigned number within each calendar year, and either an “NR” (nonrulemaking), “NRA” (nonrulemaking airport), or “OE” (obstruction evaluation) suffix as appropriate.


  1. 21-AWP-1-NR for studies involving navigational aids and nonrulemaking Special Use Airspace (SUA) cases (i.e., Alert Areas, Controlled Firing Areas, MOAs, and Warning Areas).
  2. 21-ASO-1-NRA for studies involving airports.
  3. 21-AGL-1-OE for studies involving surface structures not located on public-use airports
  4. 21-ORL-1-NRA for studies processed by an airports district office.
  1. Except for NRA airspace proposals, nonrulemaking airspace proposals must be circularized by the service area office unless procedures for processing those types of proposals allow exemptions to circularization. Each notice must contain a complete, detailed description of the proposal including charts, if appropriate, to assist interested persons in preparing comments. Circularization lists must include, but not be limited to, all known aviation interested persons and groups such as the state aviation agencies; Service Center military representatives; national and local offices of aviation organizations; local flight schools, local airport owners, managers, and fixed base operators; and local air taxi and charter flight offices. In order to ensure the widest public participation, service centers should consider all available communication alternatives for distributing circulars and receiving comments (for example, e-mail, fax, etc.). Normally, a 45-day comment period should be provided. Other parts in this order contain additional guidance regarding circularization.
  2. Discuss in the nonrulemaking circular any regulatory changes (for example, Part 71, Part 73) that might be affected if the nonrulemaking proposal is adopted. Describe the regulatory changes in as much detail as is known at the time.
  3. Regional/service area offices must coordinate with their respective state aviation representatives to ascertain which nonrulemaking circulars each state is interested in receiving. If various agencies within a state government request copies of particular circulars, the regional/service area office may request that one agency be designated to receive and distribute the requested copies.
  4. Send one copy of each SUA nonrulemaking circular to the Rules and Regulations Group.
  5. Except for Class B and Class C airspace actions, when a nonrulemaking action is associated with a rulemaking action, the nonrulemaking proposal may be included in the NPRM, and a separate nonrulemaking circular is not required. The NPRM will satisfy the circularization requirement and present the full scope of both the rulemaking and nonrulemaking proposal.

All notices of aeronautical studies, informal airspace meetings, and determinations issued for obstruction evaluation and airport airspace analysis studies require certificates of mailing. The certificate must be recorded in each case file as follows:

I HEREBY CERTIFY THAT A COPY OF THE ATTACHED [notice/determination] WAS MAILED TO EACH OF THE ADDRESSEES LISTED ON THE ATTACHED [mailing list/distribution list number] THIS [date] DAY OF [month/year].
SIGNED: [specialist/mail clerk/etc.]

  1. After the circular public comment period ends, the OSG must analyze all comments received and coordinate with the concerned ATC facility to develop a response to the issues raised by the comments, and determine if the proposal should be modified as a result of the comments. Coordinate with the appropriate Service Center military representative to discuss possible mitigations or changes based on the comments. If significant changes are made to what was circularized, it may be necessary to recircularize the proposal for additional public comment.
  2. After considering all pertinent information, the OSG and the ATC facility will determine whether the proposal should be forwarded for approval or disapproved. If the action is to be disapproved, the OSG will comply with the guidance in Paragraph 21-5-6, Disapproval of Proposals, of this Order.
  3. Within 90 days after the circular comment period closing, the OSG Manager will submit a memorandum to the Rules and Regulations Group Manager with either a recommendation to approve, or a status update on the proposal. Include the following information in the memorandum:
  1. A discussion of each issue raised by the comments and how it was resolved or addressed.
  2. The final version of the airspace description (including a revised chart, if applicable).
  3. The requested airspace effective date.
  4. Copies of public comments received and any additional information that should be considered by the Rules and Regulations Group.

Nonrulemaking actions must be made effective at 0901 UTC and must coincide with the 56-day en route charting dates published in FAA Order 8260.26, Appendix A. Exceptions are as follows:

  1. Safety or national interest actions that require an earlier effective time or date.
  2. Editorial changes.
  3. Actions that lessen the burden on the public (for example, revocation of special use airspace).
  4. To the extent practical, consider making the nonrulemaking SUA effective on a sectional chart date that matches the 56-day en route charting dates.

Nonrulemaking actions must be published in the National Flight Data Digest (NFDD) on or before the applicable charting cutoff date.


FAA Order 8260.26, Appendix A.