Categorical Exclusions

Central Regional Airports Division

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Overview of Categorical Exclusions

Airport sponsors considering a proposed project must inform themselves of the environmental documentation that is necessary to satisfy requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Some projects may qualify for a categorical exclusion from any formal environmental review. For example, the acquisition of security equipment (required by 14 CFR Part 107), safety equipment (required by 14 CFR Part 139) or snow removal equipment, are typically categorically excluded from a more detailed environmental review.

Other projects may qualify for a categorical exclusion if the extent of the impact is relatively small or insignificant. Proposed actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant affect on the human environment would not require an environmental assessment nor an environmental impact statement. Tables 6-1 and 6-2 of FAA Order 5050.4 list examples of such projects.


To assist the FAA with making a determination as to whether a categorical exclusion is appropriate for a proposed project, we may request that the Sponsor complete and submit a Documented CATEX Form (MS Word).

This serves as a screening process to evaluate the impact of the proposed improvement and to determine whether a categorical exclusion is appropriate or if an environmental assessment is necessary. Sponsors should strive to furnish accurate and sufficient information to avoid delays in the evaluation process. The Sponsor will have to contact other State and Federal agencies in order to complete this form.

Coordination with Other Agencies

To ensure the proposed project will not violate the requirements of NEPA, the Endangered Species Act, the Historic Preservation Act, or Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, the Sponsor should normally solicit comments from at least the following agencies:

  • U.S. DOI Fish and Wildlife Service, and appropriate State wildlife agency (for comment on possibility of impacting threatened and endangered species)
  • Corps of Engineers (jurisdictional wetlands) and/or US Department of Agriculture (possible wetlands in or adjacent to areas being farmed)
  • State historical/archaeological agency or agencies (cultural resources).
  • Other appropriate agencies if the sponsor has information that may indicate a need to contact that agency.

The letter of solicitation should include a complete description of the project along with a location map (airport identified on a quadrangle map) and a schematic drawing of the project. The Sponsor should inform each agency of any previous studies performed at the airport which might be applicable (i.e., archaeological and biological surveys for previous projects). The Sponsor should also instruct each agency to provide a response within 30 days of the request for review. The responding agency may ask for more information. The sponsor should attempt to answer the questions as promptly and accurately as possible. A request for more information does not automatically indicate that an Environmental Assessment is needed.

If no response is received after the 30 day time period, the sponsor may reasonably assume that the agency has no concerns with the project. The Sponsor should document any non-response in their letter of submission.

If an agency responds with "no objection," or by lack of response after the 30 day period, a Categorical Exclusion may be appropriate for the project.

If an agency responds that it has concerns or that the project "may affect" an environmental resource, the Sponsor may need to:

  • Seek additional research or data, for example, a wetlands delineation or archaeological survey; or
  • Proceed with preparation of an Environmental Assessment.

The Sponsor shall forward to the FAA Environmental Specialist a copy of the following:

  • Sponsor's letter of solicitation
  • Enclosures to solicitation
  • Comments from the responding agencies
  • Completed Categorical Exclusion Checklist.

Categorical Exclusions Listed in FAA Order 5050.4

Tables 6-1 and 6-2 address project types that may qualify for a categorical exclusion. The projects listed below may may qualify for a CATEX provided the project doesn't trigger any extraordinary circumstances (ref. FAA Order 5050.4, Table 6-3) that would create a requirement for an environmental assessment. The FAA will use the information provided in the completed categorical exclusion checklist to determine whether or not extraordinary circumstances exist.

  • Runway, taxiway, apron, or loading ramp construction or repair work including extension, strengthening, reconstruction, resurfacing, marking, grooving, fillets and jet blast facilities, and new heliports on existing airports, except where such action will create environmental impacts off airport property
  • Installation or upgrading of airfield lighting systems, including runway end identification lights, visual approach aids, beacons and electrical distribution systems.
  • Installation of miscellaneous items including segmented circles, wind or landing direction indicators or measuring devices, or fencing.
  • Construction or expansion of passenger handling facilities.
  • Construction, relocation or repair of entrance and service roadway.
  • Grading or removal of obstructions on airport property and erosion control actions with no off-airport impacts.
  • Landscaping generally, and landscaping or construction of physical barriers to diminish impact of airport blast and noise.
  • Projects to carry out noise compatibility programs.
  • Land acquisition and relocation associated with any of the above items.
  • Federal release of airport land.
  • Removal of a displaced threshold



Last updated: Tuesday, August 2, 2022