National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Drones

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was signed into law on January 1, 1970 and requires FAA to ensure that environmental considerations are factored into its decision-making process. NEPA reviews must be completed for actions that could cause reasonably foreseeable effects on the human environment, whether the actions are taken by the agency itself, or the actions are taken by airspace users seeking FAA authorization.

The NEPA process ensures that:

  • FAA decision makers understand the potential environmental impacts of proposed authorizations;
  • FAA fully discloses the potential impacts to the human environment from the proposed activities; and
  • FAA evaluates the reasonable alternatives to the proposed activities.

The FAA is conducting NEPA reviews for advanced drone operations that are being proposed to FAA for authorization.

Environmental Documents for Public Review

Draft Environmental Assessment for Zipline International Inc. Drone Package Delivery Operations, Pea Ridge, Arkansas and Surrounding Area
Zipline proposes to conduct drone package deliveries using a 46-pound drone from one hub, or “nest,” in Pea Ridge, Arkansas, within an approved operating area that covers roughly 1,200 square miles of northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri. Zipline is planning to conduct deliveries to pre-approved customer locations in 12 communities across the operating area. Zipline projects operating a maximum of 20 delivery flight operations per day from the Pea Ridge nest under the scope of the proposed action. This Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) was available for a 14-day public comment period so that the FAA could receive feedback from members of the public who may be affected by Zipline’s proposed operations.

The comment period closed on June 27, 2022, but a copy of the Draft EA is available here to view or download:

Completed Records of Decision

Last updated: Monday, June 27, 2022