[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 8 (Thursday, January 11, 2018)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 1319-1320]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-00370]



Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 73

[Docket No. FAA-2017-1109; Airspace Docket No. 17-ASO-22]

Proposed Amendment for Restricted Area R-4403A; Stennis Space 
Center, MS

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).


SUMMARY: This action proposes to amend the time of designation for 
restricted area R-4403A, Stennis Space Center, MS, from ``Intermittent, 
1000 to 0300 local time, as activated by NOTAM at least 24 hours in 
advance,'' to ``Intermittent by NOTAM at least 24 hours in advance.'' 
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) requested the 
change to meet requirements of the Space Launch System (SLS) Core Stage 
test program.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before February 26, 2018.

ADDRESSES: Send comments on this proposal to the U.S. Department of 
Transportation, Docket Operations, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West 
Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590; telephone: 1 
(800) 647-5527, or (202) 366-9826. You must identify FAA Docket No. 
FAA-2017-1109 and Airspace Docket No. 17-ASO-22, at the beginning of 
your comments. You may also submit comments through the internet at 
http://www.regulations.gov. Comments on environmental and land use 
aspects should be directed to: Mr. David Lorance, P.E., Center 
Environmental Officer, Center Operations Directorate, NASA Stennis 
Space Center, Roy S. Estess Building 1100, Mail Code RA02, Stennis 
Space Center, MS 39529-6000.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul Gallant, Airspace Policy Group, 
Office of Airspace Services, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 
Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20591; telephone: (202) 267-


Authority for This Rulemaking

    The FAA's authority to issue rules regarding aviation safety is 
found in Title 49 of the United States Code. Subtitle I, Section 106 
describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII, 
Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the agency's 
authority. This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority described 
in Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart I, Section 40103. Under that section, 
the FAA is charged with prescribing regulations to assign the use of 
the airspace necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and the 
efficient use of airspace. This regulation is within the scope of that 
authority as it would support a change in the time of designation for 
restricted area R-4403A, Stennis Space Center, MS, to accommodate NASA 
rocket engine test activities.

Comments Invited

    Interested parties are invited to participate in this proposed 
rulemaking by submitting such written data, views, or arguments as they 
may desire. Comments that provide the factual basis supporting the 
views and suggestions presented are particularly helpful in developing 
reasoned regulatory decisions on the proposal. Comments are 
specifically invited on the overall regulatory, aeronautical, economic, 
environmental, and energy-related aspects of the proposal.
    Communications should identify both docket numbers (FAA Docket No. 
FAA-2017-1109 and Airspace Docket No. 17-ASO-22) and be submitted in 
triplicate to the Docket Office at the address listed above. You may 
also submit comments through the internet at www.regulations.gov.
    Commenters wishing the FAA to acknowledge receipt of their comments 
on this action must submit with those comments a self-addressed, 
stamped postcard on which the following statement is made: ``Comments 
to FAA Docket No. FAA-2017-1109 and Airspace Docket No. 17-ASO-22.'' 
The postcard will be date/time stamped and returned to the commenter.
    All communications received on or before the specified closing date 
for comments will be considered before taking action on the proposed 
rule. The proposal contained in this action may

[[Page 1320]]

be changed in light of comments received. All comments submitted will 
be available for examination in the public docket both before and after 
the closing date for comments. A report summarizing each substantive 
public contact with FAA personnel concerned with this rulemaking will 
be filed in the docket.

Availability of NPRMs

    An electronic copy of this document may be downloaded through the 
internet at www.regulations.gov.
    You may review the public docket containing the proposal, any 
comments received and any final disposition in person at the Docket 
Office (see ADDRESSES section for address and phone number) between 
9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal 
holidays. An informal docket may also be examined during normal 
business hours at the office of the Operations Support Group, Eastern 
Service Center, Federal Aviation Administration, 1701 Columbia Ave., 
College Park, GA 30337.


    R-4403A was established by a final rule published in the Federal 
Register on March 29, 2016 (81 FR 17379) Docket No. 2017-0370, as part 
of the expansion of the former restricted area R-4403. R-4403A was 
designated to contain hazards associated with rocket engine testing. 
The current time of designation, ``Intermittent, 1000 to 0300 local 
time, as activated by NOTAM at least 24 hours in advance,'' allows for 
up to 17 hours of daily use. However, NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) 
Core Stage test program will require activation of R-4403A for periods 
of 24 to 48 hours which will exceed the current time designation for 
the restricted area.
    The current boundaries and altitudes of R-4403A are sufficient to 
contain the hazards from hydrogen flaring profiles associated with 
propulsion testing and are not affected by this proposal. Additionaly, 
the need for on-going single rocket engine testing in R-4403A remains 
at approximately 20-40 times per year. On average, NASA activates R-
4403A for 7 hours for each event. If technical difficulties or other 
conditions require, R-4403A has been activated for up to 12 hours. 
However, the SLS Core Stage testing program entails the simultaneous 
testing of four rocket engines. The flaring of hydrogen fuel will 
require NASA to activate R-4403A for up to 48 hours because SLS Core 
Stage testing cannot confine the hydrogen flare stack hazards within 
the existing 17-hour daily window available for R-4403A. This 
requirement is expected to occur 2-3 times per year.

The Proposal

    The FAA proposes an amendment to 14 CFR part 73 to change the time 
of designation for restricted area R-4403A, Stennis Space Center, MS, 
from ``Intermittent, 1000 to 0300 local time, as activated by NOTAM at 
least 24 hours in advance,'' to ``Intermittent by NOTAM at least 24 
hours in advance.''
    This change is required to provide the additional restricted area 
activation time needed to accommodate NASA's SLS Core Stage engine 
testing program. The current boundaries and designated altitude for R-
4403A remain unchanged by this proposal.

Regulatory Notices and Analyses

    The FAA has determined that this proposed regulation only involves 
an established body of technical regulations for which frequent and 
routine amendments are necessary to keep them operationally current. 
It, therefore: (1) Is not a ``significant regulatory action'' under 
Executive Order 12866; (2) is not a ``significant rule'' under 
Department of Transportation (DOT) Regulatory Policies and Procedures 
(44 FR 11034; February 26, 1979); and (3) does not warrant preparation 
of a regulatory evaluation as the anticipated impact is so minimal. 
Since this is a routine matter that will only affect air traffic 
procedures and air navigation, it is certified that this proposed rule, 
when promulgated, will not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act.

Environmental Review

    This proposal will be subjected to an environmental analysis in 
accordance with FAA Order 1050.1F, ``Environmental Impacts: Policies 
and Procedures,'' prior to any FAA final regulatory action.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 73

    Airspace, Prohibited areas, Restricted areas.

The Proposed Amendment

    In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation 
Administration proposes to amend 14 CFR part 73 as follows:


1. The authority citation for part 73 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g); 40103, 40113, 40120; E.O. 
10854, 24 FR 9565, 3 CFR, 1959-1963 Comp., p. 389.

Sec.  73.44  Mississippi [Amended]

2. Sec.  73.44 is amended as follows:
* * * * *

R-4403A Stennis Space Center, MS [Amended]

    By removing the words ``Time of Designation. Intermittent, 1000 to 
0300 local time, as activated by NOTAM at least 24 hours in advance,'' 
and adding in their place:
    Time of designation. Intermittent by NOTAM at least 24 hours in 

    Issued in Washington, DC, on January 8, 2018.
Rodger A. Dean, Jr.,
Manager, Airspace Policy Group.
[FR Doc. 2018-00370 Filed 1-10-18; 8:45 am]