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Aeronautical Considerations (13-FD-d)

Information current as of 2020
In the United States, any person (developer) must give notice to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) if a project's proposed construction or alteration is more than 200 feet above ground level or is within a defined proximity to a public airport pursuant to 49 U.S.C. §§ 40101 - 40130, Air Commerce and Safety General Provisions; 49 U.S.C. §§ 44701 - 44739, Safety Regulations; 14 C.F.R. §§ 77.1 - 77.41, Safe, Efficient Use, and Preservation of the Navigable Airspace. In addition, a developer must consult with the Department of Defense (DOD) if a project may impact military operations and/or readiness pursuant to the Pub. L. No. 111-383, 124 Stat. 4137 and 49 U.S.C. § 44718(b) and (f).


The FAA has exclusive jurisdiction over airspace in the United States. 49 U.S.C. § 40103. Accordingly, developers must give notice to the FAA if a project may infringe on airspace. Generally, construction or alteration projects that include objects 200 feet above ground level (or higher) require developers to submit notice of the project to the FAA. In addition, construction or alteration projects that breach an ‘’imaginary surface’’ (e.g. are within a defined proximity to or within the airspace) of a public airport require developers to submit notice to the FAA. 14 C.F.R. § 77.19 Further, a developer may be required to give notice if the the FAA determines that a project may present a hazard to air navigation. The FAA evaluates the project based on obstruction standards and other factors in order to determine whether the construction or alteration will have a substantial aeronautical impact. Even where the FAA determines that there is no hazard to air navigation, they may include conditional provisions, limitations necessary to minimize potential problems, lighting/marking recommendations, and/or supplemental notice requirements. 14 C.F.R. § 77.31.

After a developer files a project notice with the FAA, the DOD has authority to determine whether the project presents an unacceptable level of risk to military operations. Pub. L. No. 111-383, 124 Stat. 4137 § 358(e); 49 U.S.C. § 44718(b) and (f). After the developer files notice with the FAA, the DOD conducts a preliminary assessment to determine whether the project will have an adverse impact on military operations and readiness. The DOD may object to a project, only if it determines that the project presents an unacceptable risk to military operations. The DOD encourages developers to voluntarily request informal project screening via the DOD Clearinghouse Mission Compatibility Evaluation prior to filing notice of the project with the FAA. The DOD Clearinghouse Mission Compatibility Evaluation may streamline the DOD’s assessment of risk to military operation and identify potential problems at an earlier stage of project development.



Aeronautical Considerations Process


13-FD-d.1 – to 13-FD-d.2 Does the Developer Voluntarily Request Informal Review of the Project’s Effect on Military Operations?

A developer may voluntarily request an informal review of the project's effect on military operations from the DOD prior to filing notice of the project with the FAA. Certain development projects may pose an unacceptable risk to military operations and readiness. If notice to the FAA is required for a particular project, the DOD must conduct a formal review process to determine the level of risk that the project poses to military operations and readiness. However, developers may voluntarily request informal review of a proposed project’s risk to military operations by following the process fully described in

Clearinghouse Mission Compatibility Evaluation Process: 
13-FD-f

Requesting informal review can benefit the developer by providing upfront information regarding potential project issues and allowing for more time in planning mitigation strategies.

13-FD-d.3 – Will the Project Include an Object at Least 200 ft. Tall?

The developer must give notice of the project to the FAA if any proposed construction or alteration is more than 200 feet above ground level. 14 C.F.R. § 77.9.

13-FD-d.4 - Will the Project Include an Object that Breaches an “Imaginary Surface” of an Airport?

The developer must give notice of the project to the FAA if any proposed construction or alteration may breach an "imaginary surface" of an airport, which extends outward and upward at any of the following slopes:

  • 100 to 1 for a horizontal distance of 20,000 ft. from the nearest point of the nearest runway of each airport described in paragraph (d) of this section with its longest runway more than 3,200 ft. in actual length, excluding heliports.
  • 50 to 1 for a horizontal distance of 10,000 ft. from the nearest point of the nearest runway of each airport described in paragraph (d) of this section with its longest runway no more than 3,200 ft. in actual length, excluding heliports.
  • 25 to 1 for a horizontal distance of 5,000 ft. from the nearest point of the nearest landing and takeoff area of each heliport described in paragraph (d) of this section. . .”

14 C.F.R. § 77.9.

If a project may breach any of the aforementioned "imaginary surfaces" of an airport, the developer must give notice to the FAA, even if the proposed construction or alteration is less than 200 feet above ground level. Developers should consult both airports, which are close to projects and the FAA with any questions regarding the technical distinctions of “imaginary surfaces.”

13-FD-d.5 to 13-FD-d.6 – Did the FAA Otherwise Request Notice of the Project?

The FAA may request that a developer give notice of a project if the the FAA determines that a project may present a hazard to air navigation. 14 C.F.R. § 77.9. For example, any construction within the boundaries of an airport may trigger a notice requirement to the FAA.

If the FAA does not request notice of the project and the project does not exceed 200 feet above ground level or breach an "imaginary surface" of an airport, the developer may continue with the project.

13-FD-d.7 - Notice of Proposed Construction or Alteration (Form 7460-1)

The specific form requirement depends on whether the construction will be on or off airport lands. The forms are found online on the FAA's website.

13-FD-d.8 – Notify DOD of Proposed Construction or Alteration

The developer must notify DOD of the proposed construction or alteration after filing notice of the project with the FAA. The DOD conducts a formal assessment to determine whether the project will have an adverse impact on military operations and readiness. DOD project review is triggered when the FAA receives a Notice of Proposed Construction or Alteration (Form 7460-1). Pub. L. No. 111-383, 124 Stat. 4137 § 358(e); 49 U.S.C. § 44718(b) and (f). Although the DOD ultimately has responsibility for making these determinations, developers may consult the DoD Preliminary Screening Tool, provided by the FAA as an aid in evaluating potential impacts the construction project may have on DOD operations.

Note: If the developer files notice with the FAA, the DOD must conduct a formal assessment of the project. The formal review requirement applies even if the developer already initiated an informal review of the project with the DOD prior to filing notice with the FAA. Pub. L. No. 111-383, 124 Stat. 4137 § 358(e).

13-FD-d.9 – Does the DOD Object to the Project Due to Unacceptable Risk?

The DOD may object to the project if it presents an unacceptable risk to military operations, readiness and/or national security. The DOD has discretion to determine what constitutes an unacceptable risk on a situational basis. If the risks does not amount to the level of unacceptable, the DOD may attach conditions for risk mitigation in lieu of objecting to the project. Pub. L. No. 111-383, 124 Stat. 4137 § 358(e). Developers that submitted to the informal review process via the DOD Clearinghouse (as explained in 13-FD-d.1 above) will likely have prior awareness of necessary mitigation conditions.

13-FD-d.10 – Determination of Unacceptable Risk to Military Operations and Readiness

The project cannot continue if the DOD determines that it presents an unacceptable risks to military operations, readiness and national security and objects to the project. Pub. L. No. 111-383, 124 Stat. 4137 § 358(e). If the DOD does not object to the project, the FAA must evaluate the project regarding its aeronautical impact.

13-FD-d.11 – Does the FAA determine that the Project has a Substantial Aeronautical Impact?

The FAA evaluates the project based on obstruction standards and other factors to determine whether the construction or alteration will have a substantial aeronautical impact. Objects that meet the standards for obstruction are presumed hazards to air navigation unless further aeronautical study concludes that the object is not a hazard. The applicable obstruction standards include:

  • Objects at a height of 499 feet above ground level.
  • Objects at a height of 200 feet above ground level (or above the established airport elevation) within 3 nautical miles of the established reference point of an airport, excluding heliports, with its longest runway more than 3,200 feet in actual length. That height increases in the proportion of 100 feet for each additional nautical mile from the airport up to a maximum of 499 feet.
  • Objects at a height within a terminal obstacle clearance area, including an initial approach segment, a departure area, and a circling approach area, which would result in the vertical distance between any point on the object and an established minimum instrument flight altitude within that area or segment to be less than the required obstacle clearance.
  • Objects at a height within an en route obstacle clearance area, including turn and termination areas, of a Federal Airway or approved off-airway route, which would increase the minimum obstacle clearance altitude.

14 C.F.R. § 77.17

13-FD-d.12 – Determination of Hazard to Air Navigation

If the FAA issues a Determination of Hazard to Air Navigation, the project construction may not continue. The developer may submit a petition of discretionary review of a determination, revision, or extension of a determination to the FAA. The petition must be filed within 30 days after the issuance of a determination and effects of the determination are inoperative pending disposition of the petition. The FAA may revise, affirm, or reverse the determination – at which point the decision is final. 14 C.F.R. § 77.37-41

13-FD-d.13 – Determination of No Hazard to Air Navigation

The project may continue if the FAA makes a Determination of No Hazard to Air Navigation. However, the FAA may include conditional provisions, limitations necessary to minimize potential problems, lighting/marking recommendations, and/or supplemental notice requirements. 14 C.F.R. § 77.31.

Determinations of No Hazard to Air Navigation operate for a period of 18 months and may be renewed once. 14 C.F.R. § 77.35. Developers must construct the triggering project within the 18 month (or renewal period) period. After construction is complete, developers may need to give further notice to the FAA if a new construction project or an alteration to an existing structure triggers the process again.


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