FAA OE/AAA Process

The United States Congress charged the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with the responsibility to encourage air commerce in the United States. As part of this responsibility, the FAA is tasked with ensuring air safety and preserving the National Airspace System (NAS). It is through these mandates that the FAA draws its authority to conduct Aeronautical Studies of planned structures.

Proposed projects are evaluated through the FAA Obstruction Evaluation/Airport Airspace Analysis (OE/AAA) process to determine if the structures could have an impact on navigable airspace.

Step One: Filing with the FAA

14 CFR Part 77.9 defines the notice criteria that may require you to submit FAA Form 7460-1.

Developers intending to construct structures in excess of 200 feet above ground level (AGL) or in excess of established notification standards (lower closer to airports) must submit a notice to the FAA at least 45 days prior to the start of construction.

Prior to the FAA’s establishment of the OE/AAA automation system, notice was provided to the FAA by submitting FAA Form 7460-1, Notice of Proposed Construction or Alteration. Use of this form has largely been replaced by an online submittal process through the FAA OE/AAA website. The FAA and industry continue to refer to these filings as “7460-1” filings.

7460-1 filings require very basic information about the project to be studied. Specifically, the FAA requires that the structure’s location, ground elevation, and height be submitted.

Since the accuracy of this information will automatically be questioned by the FAA, Capitol Airspace often recommends that developers obtain an FAA 1A survey prior to this submittal (contact us to learn more about this survey). This stamped and signed survey will ensure that the FAA does not apply margin-of-error penalties to the final, approved height of the structure.

Currently, 7460-1 filings must be submitted for each point on a project (with few exceptions). For wind and transmission line projects, individual points must be submitted for each wind turbine, MET tower, and transmission line tower. For building projects, usually the outside footprint of the building is filed. Once the FAA received and verifies these filings, an aeronautical study number (ASN) is issued for each filed point. This begins the aeronautical study process.

Capitol Airspace can file for you, track the status, work with the FAA, and keep you updated throughout the life of the project. Since we are already familiar with the projects that we file on our client’s behalf, we are ready to immediately address any potential problems that arise.

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Step Two: Initial Review

Know what to expect.

Your project will be assigned to a specialist within the FAA Obstruction Evaluation Group (OEG). There are usually ten different offices internal to the FAA and the Department of Defense (DoD) that respond to the OEG, including: Office of Airports, Obstacle Impact Team, Flight Standards, Technical Operations, Frequency Management, Air Force, Navy, Army, the Department of Defense (DoD) Siting Clearinghouse, Department of Homeland Security.

Technicians in each of these offices will review each point to ensure that the proposed project does not interfere with their areas of responsibility. If you’ve had Capitol Airspace complete an analytical airspace study, you’ll know what to expect.

Once each of these offices has assessed the project, they submit a response of either “objection” or “no-objection” via FAA’s internal OE/AAA system. During this portion of the review, the case is considered to be in “work status” by the FAA. Review by all respondents often takes between 45 and 90 days.

After all of the responses have been logged in the system, the case is moved from “work-in-progress status” to “evaluation status.” At this point, the OEG specialist will assess all responses and determine whether structure exceeds obstruction standards established under 14 CFR Part 77. Proposed structures that exceed these surfaces are deemed to be “obstructions” and warrant further scrutiny by the FAA to determine if they would constitute a hazard to air navigation.

Also, structures that are deemed to be an obstruction are generally issued a Notice of Preliminary Findings (NPF) (previously referred to as a Notice of Presumed Hazard (NPH)).

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Step Three: Preliminary Results

What is a Notice of Preliminary Findings (NPF)?

Unless your project receives a favorable “Does Not Exceed” determination, the FAA will likely issue a Notice of Preliminary Findings (NPF) (previously referred to as a Notice of Presumed Hazard (NPH)). These notices are guaranteed for all structures in excess of 499 feet above ground level (AGL).

The NPF letter is meant to be a means for the FAA to notify the developer that it has identified an issue which will require further study in order to determine whether or not the structure will pose a hazard to air navigation. This letter is intended to initiate negotiations between the developer and the FAA.

At this point, the developer can either reduce the height of the proposed structure, remove the proposal, or request that the FAA conduct further aeronautical study at the originally filed height.

Step Four: Responding to a Notice of Preliminary Findings (NPF)

You've got options.

While there are many methods to resolve objections received on a project, nearly all NPF cases must be circularized to the public for comment. Through this 37 day public comment period, the FAA can collect information regarding the actual impact on the local flying community.

If you’re working with Capitol Airspace, we may propose mitigation options that would strike the balance between the economic need of your project and FAA’s need to preserve the National Airspace System (NAS).

Options could include proposed redesigns to instrument approach procedures, evaluating historical radar track data to determine the level of significance, or meeting with the airport to understand and work through concerns. At this point in the process, developers rely heavily on Capitol Airspace to development and implement mitigation strategies.

Step Five: Final Determinations

We're almost done, but not quite yet.

Favorable Determinations of No Hazard are valid for 18 months. A one-time extension can be requested. This request is further reviewed by the FAA OEG and may result in an additional 18 months.

Your favorable determinations may include requirements for marking and lighting in accordance with the current FAA Advisory Circular 70/7460-1, notifying certain aviation facilities of the start of your construction, or notifying the FAA once your construction is completed.

Furthermore, you will also be required to file your temporary construction equipment if it will be taller than the permanent structure.

Step Six: After Construction

Supplemental notice may be required.

Depending on the requirements in your determination, supplemental notice may require you to notify the FAA prior to, or shortly after, construction.

This allows the FAA to chart your project so that pilots are aware of the new structure.