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 (EA) for UPS Flight Forward (UPSFF) Drone Package Delivery Operations in Columbus, Ohio

    UPSFF proposes to conduct drone package deliveries using the 29-pound Matternet M2 drone within an operating area that covers roughly 3.77 square miles in Columbus, Ohio. UPSFF will deliver small packages to pre-approved distribution centers (DCs) within the operating area. The operations would occur during daylight hours up to seven days per week, with no flights on holidays. This Draft EA was available for a 14-day public comment period so that the FAA can receive feedback from members of the public who may be affected by UPSFF’s proposed operations.

    The comment period closed on February 8, 2023, but a copy of the Draft EA is available here to view or download:

Completed Records of Decision

Last updated: Thursday, February 9, 2023