Non-federal Program: Overview

Non-federal sponsors must operate and maintain non-federal systems to the standards set by the FAA. The Non-federal Program ensures that:

  • New non-federal systems are installed and commissioned according to FAA standards.
  • Existing non-federal systems are operated and maintained according to FAA standards.
  • Non-federally employed maintenance technicians have sufficient training and competence to meet FAA standards.
  • Non-federal systems and technicians are licensed, as necessary, by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
  • New non-federal systems are designed according to FAA standards.

The Non-federal Program enacts policies and procedures to regulate:

  • The approval process for newly-designed systems.
  • The life-cycles of those systems.*
  • The technicians who maintain those systems.

*A "life-cycle" includes installation, commissioning, operation, maintenance, takeover (if applicable), and ultimately, decommissioning.

Non-federal systems play a significant role in the National Airspace System (NAS). For instance, they facilitate aviation access to hundreds of communities across the U.S. Without non-federal systems, many of those communities would have little or no aviation access.

Key Elements of the Non-federal Process:

  • Before a manufacturer can market a new system or service for non-federal purposes, it must receive FAA approval through the Non-federal Program.
  • Owners of non-federal systems should not install them without Non-federal Program approval and oversight.
  • The non-federally employed technician(s) who will maintain the systems must first receive "verification authority" from the Non-federal Program.
  • After a system is installed, the non-federal technicians must maintain specific records on the system's operations and maintenance.
  • FAA personnel will regularly inspect the system's operations and maintenance.

If you don't comply with the above process, FAA may shut down your system.

The Non-federal Process can be complicated. Contact your Non-federal Program Liaison for advice and guidance!


Last updated: Thursday, February 29, 2024