Filing for FAA Launch Authorization
The following article will provide you help with filling out the proper form, supplying any other required information, as well as additional details on the application and submission process.
Application and Forms
To apply for authorization, you need to download the Application for Certificate of Waiver or Authorization, FAA Form 7711-2. The current form edition is 8/08 and is a “fillable” PDF that can be filled out electronically. Simply click in the field and enter the appropriate information as discussed in detail below. The form was originally designed for Aviation Events (Airshows) so filling it out isn’t quite as straightforward for rocketry events, but it’s also not overly complicated. Most of the fields are fairly self explanatory but the following should help explain what information is being requested as well as what format it should be entered in as.
The form instructions state to submit the application in triplicate (3) to any FAA Flight Standards district office but that is no longer the preferred method. Once completed, the form along with any other required information should be submitted electronically via email to the appropriate FAA Service Area contact. Details for these contacts will be provided later in this article.
Also per the instructions, the application must be submitted not later than 45 days prior to the date of proposed operations but you should plan on applying as far in advance as possible. Allowing a minimum of 60 or more days to process will add some cushion to your time line and if approved, will give your launch participants the ability to know the altitude limits and other special provisions in order to plan their flights.
Filling out Form 7711-2 (8-08)
Here are instructions for filling out the form based on information gathered from representatives from the three FAA Service Areas (Eastern, Central, & Western). Due to penmanship issues that can delay the review process, the FAA highly suggest filling out the form electronically as intended (i.e. on a computer).
Box 1 asks for the name of the organization requesting the certificate. If you are an individual applying for a certificate, simply fill in “Individual” in the field. If it’s on behalf of a NAR Section, it’s best to be specific, e.g. Cape Canaveral Rocketeers (CCR) Section #1000.
Box 2 asks for the name of the responsible person, i.e. the certificate holder. This is the person who will be responsible for the certificate and making sure the provisions defined in an approved certificate are followed. Be sure to list your Full Name. You can include a nick name if so desired, e.g. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr.
Box 3 asks for the mailing address and telephone number of the responsible person. Make sure the address is filled in completely in the appropriate boxes. As for the telephone number, since the FAA needs to be able to contact someone at the site at all times during a launch event, this should be a working cell phone number. Be sure to include the proper area code and format it as follows: 123-456-7890.
Box 4 asks if the applying individual and/or organization have another Form 7711-2 application pending at any other office of the FAA. Normally “No” would be entered but if the answer is “Yes”, then include the name the FAA facility where the other application is pending.
Box 5 asks if the applying individual and/or organization have ever had an application for a certificate denied or an approved certificate canceled or withdrawn. Normally “No” would be entered.
Box 6 asks for the FAR section and number asking to be waived. Although there can be exceptions, in most cases it’s best to answer “None” and discuss such exceptions with the FAA representative after the review process has begun.
Box 7 asks for a detailed description of the proposed operation. Suggested text is as follows:
Normal operations of Class 2 High Power Rockets in accordance with the National Association of Rocketry High Power Rocket Safety Code. See supplemental attachments.
The supplemental attachments will be discussed later in this article.
Box 8 asks for the area of operations (location, altitudes, etc.). For the location, it should be provided in latitude and longitude in the following format:
DD° MM’ SS.SS” Direction (e.g. 28° 36’ 30.01” N, 80° 36’ 14.58” W)
Where DD are the Degrees (00° to 89°), MM are the Minutes (00’ to 59’), SS.SS are the Decimal Seconds (00.00” to 59.99”), and Direction is the direction from the Equator/Prime Meridian. The Latitude is typically displayed first with the direction being either North (N) or South (S) from the Equator. The Longitude is typically displayed next with the direction being either East (E) or West (W) of the Prime Meridian. All U.S. sites should be located in North (N) and West (W) directions.
There are many ways to determine these coordinates. If you have access to a GPS receiver, you can simply visit the potential launch site and use that to determine the coordinates. You can also use programs such as Google Earth to find them. Google Earth has a browser version as well as a downloadable desktop version of the program. The desktop version has a slightly better user interface and more flexibility but for the purpose of determining the latitude and longitude of a potential launch site, both will work fine.
Keep in mind that incorrect coordinates will delay the review process. Take special care with generating them and it’s always advisable to have someone else review them for accuracy.
Box 8 is also the line on which you request your operating altitudes. After the coordinates, simply state the following:
“Surface to xx,xxx feet AGL”
Where “xx,xxx” is your requested maximum altitude measured Above Ground Level (AGL). Providing the altitude above ground level as opposed to above mean sea level (AMSL) can be key as some launch sites may be located significantly above sea level. Requesting a 5,000 foot AMSL altitude for a launch already sitting at 3,000 feet above sea level would only leave a surface to 2,000 feet AGL range to fly within.
As for determining the actual altitude you want to request, you have to decide how high you can fly rockets based on the limitations stated in 14 CFR 101.25 (g) as well as NFPA 1127 and the NAR High Power Rocket Safety Code, which are now aligned. 14 CFR 101.25 (g) states that you must observe the greater of the following separation distances from any person or property that is not associated with the operations:
- Not less than one quarter the maximum expected altitude;
- 457 meters (1,500 ft.);
In other words, if you would like to request an altitude limit of 8,000 feet AGL on your application, then no person or property not associated with your launch operations can be located within one quarter (1/4) of that altitude, or 2,000 feet, from your range location. Conversely, if you measure the distance from the closest person or property not associated with your launch operations to be 3,000 feet, then the maximum altitude you can request would be 12,000 feet AGL.
Just remember that you must observe the greater of the two defined separation distances (i.e. the minimum distance from your range location to any person or property not associated with your launch operations is 1,500 feet). Requesting a 4,000 foot AGL maximum altitude does not mean your minimum separation distance is 1/4 of that. The minimum is always 1,500 feet.
If the applying individual or organization would like to conduct nighttime rocketry operations at the same launch site, then another piece of information to include in Box 8 is a separate altitude range for those operations. The maximum altitude must still follow the limitations stated in 14 CFR 101.25 (g), but since nighttime operating altitudes approved are typically below those of daytime operations, no verification is really needed.
When determining a nighttime altitude, always keep in mind that the higher a rocket travels in the dark, even with the brightest illumination, it can be harder to track the entire flight profile and therefore become a serious safety concern to anyone on the ground.
To recap filling out Box 8, the entered information should read similar to the following:
28° 36’ 30.01” N, 80° 36’ 14.58” W; Surface to 5,000 feet AGL (Daytime).
And if nighttime launch operations are also desired, the entered information in Box 8 would look similar to this:
28° 36’ 30” N, 80° 36’ 15” W; Surface to 5,000 feet AGL (Daytime), Surface to 2,000 feet AGL (Nighttime).
Also keep in mind that just because you may request a certain altitude, there are other factors that may affect the FAA’s ability to grant you that altitude. Be prepared to accept lower altitudes.
Box 9 asks for starting (9a) and ending (9b) dates and times. Since the application usually takes at least 45 days to process, most rocketeers and/or clubs choose to apply for a blanket certificate which covers a range of dates (e.g. January 1st to December 31st). This allows the greatest flexibility in scheduling events depending upon the applicants’ typical flying season. Of course if you only fly during the warmer months, you can enter the date range covering only those months. Conversely, if you only have a winter flying season, you only need to enter the date range for those months.
The Starting and Ending Date fields can either be typed in manually in the typical MM/DD/YYYY format (e.g 01/01/2019 and 12/31/2019 respectively) or selected from a calendar drop down which is accessed by the small downward pointing arrow on the right end of the field. Note: you must be working in a local copy (i.e. saved on your computer) and not in a browser PDF viewer for some form features to be visible.
The Starting and Ending Hours have to be entered manually using Military Time (24 hour time). The time of day is written in the 24-hour notation in the form of HH:MM:SS where HH (00 to 23) is the number of full hours that have passed since midnight, MM (00 to 59) is the number of full minutes that have passed since the last full hour, and SS (00 to 59) is the number of seconds since the last full minute. For instance, 1:30 AM would be entered as 01:30:00 while 4:15 PM would be entered as 16:15:00.
When figuring your starting and ending times, keep in mind that they don’t mean that you have to start and end your events at these times. They simply define the time envelope in which your Class 2 rocket launches can take place. Typical entries, which would include both Daytime and Nighttime launch operations (if applicable), would be a starting time of 08:00:00 (8:00 AM) and an ending time of 22:00:00 (10:00 PM).
Since entering anything else in the field will cause an error window to pop up stating the value entered does not match the format of the field, the Time Zone for a particular location cannot be included. The time entry should be based on the applicant’s local time.
Box 10 should just be left blank. Although the Form instructions indicate that applicants requesting a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization for activities other than an aviation event are to complete Boxes 1 through 10, Box 10 is irrelevant to rocket launch operations and should just be ignored.
Boxes 11 through 15 are also irrelevant to rocket launch operations and as the Form instructions indicate, these can be skipped over and left blank.
Box 16 will be used to enter your proposed launch schedule for the time period entered in Boxes 9a & 9b. Event hours should be entered in the Hour (a) field, Event dates should be entered in the Date (b) field, and Event name should be entered in the Event (c) field, all on corresponding lines. For example:
|0900-1800||07/20/2019||Class 2 Rocket Launch (Daytime)|
|1000-2200||08/17/2019||Class 2 Rocket Launch (Daytime & Nighttime)|
|1000-1700||10/19/2019||Class 2 Rocket Launch (Daytime)|
Note: The information can also be submitted in a separate attachment in the order and manner indicated on the form and shown above.
Also, keep in mind that by providing your proposed launch schedule, it is not limiting your Class 2 rocketry activities to only those dates and times. The FAA will include this schedule as part of the approved certificate package to give the affected Air Traffic Facilities a better understanding of what they may expect out of a particular COA throughout the year. If you have a complete launch schedule figured out, include all of it. If you’re still working on one, include what you can estimate.
Box 17 is the field where the applicant will be signing and dating the application thereby certifying that they have read the “Please Read” field and the information they have entered into the Form is true. Before signing and dating the fields, it is recommended that you enter the following text into the “Remarks” field at the bottom of the form:
All launch operations will be conducted in accordance with the NAR High Power Rocket Safety Code and shall be under the control of an experienced Range Safety Officer / Launch Control Officer at all times. A spotter will watch for aircraft entering the operations area and will temporarily suspend operations in this contingency.
The Dates entered in Box 9a & 9b represent a blanket request with specific dates to be coordinated with appropriate facilities prior to the event. The Hours listed in Box 9a & 9b represent the local time of the launch operations site. Specific times will be coordinated with appropriate facilities prior to the event.
Before signing, review the Form several times for accuracy/completeness and correct/add information as necessary. Errors and/or omissions may result in a delay or even a denial of the request.
Once the review is completed, it can either be signed & dated electronically or a hard copy can be printed and then it signed & dated manually. For the first option, consult your PDF viewing/editing software for information on how to add a digital signature (if an option). If the latter option is taken, the applicant will then need to scan the Form back into an electronic format (preferably PDF) for submission.
Additional Information Requirements per 14 CFR 101.29(a), which states:
Class 2—High Power Rockets. When a Class 2—High Power Rocket requires a certificate of waiver or authorization, the person planning the operation must provide the information below on each type of rocket to the FAA at least 45 days before the proposed operation. The FAA may request additional information if necessary to ensure the proposed operations can be safely conducted. The information shall include for each type of Class 2 rocket expected to be flown:
- Estimated number of rockets,
- Type of propulsion (liquid or solid), fuel(s) and oxidizer(s),
- Description of the launcher(s) planned to be used, including any airborne platform(s),
- Description of recovery system,
- Highest altitude, above ground level, expected to be reached,
- Launch site latitude, longitude, and elevation, and
- Any additional safety procedures that will be followed.
This information will be submitted as a supplemental attachment and included as a typical representation of each scheduled event within the specified time frame entered into the 7711-2 Form. It should be a separate page formatted and containing similar information as follows:
- Estimated Number of Rockets: Based on past launch data, xx to xx Class 2 High Power rockets will be flown each launch day, or xx to xx Class 2 High Power rockets over each two-day launch period.
- Type of Propulsion: Class 2 rockets will fly on one of three motor types.
- Solid fuel composite propellant motors utilizing Ammonium Perchlorate Composite Propellant (APCP),
- Hybrid rocket motors utilizing Nitrous Oxide as an oxidizer and PVC Plastic, Rubber, or Paper as the fuel.
- Description of Launchers: All launch pads are ground based platforms, with a rod, rail, or other mechanism to provide positive guidance until the rocket achieves sufficient velocity to maintain aerodynamic stability.
- Description of Recovery Systems: All Class 2 rockets will utilize a recovery system as required by the National Association of Rocketry (NAR) Safety Code as well as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Code 1127 for High Power Rocketry, consisting of a parachute, streamer, inherent drag, gliding, or other device to slow the rocket to a safe recovery speed.
- Highest Altitude Expected: x,xxx AGL (x,xxx MSL).
- Launch Site Latitude, Longitude, and Elevation: Latitude xx° xx’ xx.xx” N, Longitude xx° xx’ xx.xx” W; Surface elevation approximately x,xxx’ MSL.
- Additional Safety Procedures: Launches will comply with 14 CFR 101.23, 101.25, and 101.27 as well as the NAR High Power Rocketry Safety Code and the NFPA Code 1127 for High Power Rocketry with regard to safe distances for participants and availability of fire suppression equipment.
You can download a sample document from the Related Documents section at the bottom of this article and just fill in the relevant information. Don’t forget to include your name and Section (if applicable), address, cell number, and email address. This information should match what was entered into the FAA 7711-2 Form.
Submitting the FAA Form 7711-2 and Supplemental Information
Once your application and all supplemental information has been completed and you’re ready to submit it, take a look at the below map to figure out which of the three Service Areas your proposed launch site is located within. The boundaries have changed slightly and are now defined along the edges of Air Traffic Control Zones (the red dashed lines) instead of along state lines (solid blue lines). Some states are now split between two different areas so you’ll need figure out where your site actually lies to know which Service Area contact to use.
If you’re having trouble locating your site using the above map or it is located too close to one of the boundaries to determine which Service Area it belongs in, you can download the .kmz file in the Related Documents area at the end of this article. This file contains the boundaries for the three Service Areas. You can then open the files using Google Earth. Keep in mind that the boundaries shown are subject to change and that the FAA will ultimately determine which Service Area is appropriate for you site.
If your site is located within the Eastern Service Area, then you’ll submit your completed form along with all supplemental information to the following email address:
Eastern Service Area: 9-ATO-ESA-OSG-AirspaceWaiver@faa.gov
If your site is located within the Central Service Area, then you’ll submit your completed form along with all supplemental information to ALL of the following email addresses:
Central Service Area: 9-AJO-CSA-Part101@faa.gov, firstname.lastname@example.org, & Charles.Lewis@faa.gov
If your site is located within the Western Service Area, then you’ll submit your completed form along with all supplemental information to the following email address:
Western Service Area: 9-ATO-WSA-OSG-PART101@faa.gov
Once you’ve submitted your application package, you should receive an email within a few days confirming its receipt. If a week goes by with no response, simply send another email to the same address and request confirmation that they received your application submission.
Renewing an Existing Certificate of Waiver or Authorization
If you want to renew an existing Certificate of Waiver or Authorization, in addition to the FAA Form 7711-2 application and Supplemental Information, include a copy of your previously approved Certificate package. This will help speed up the FAA’s review. Keep in mind that airspace conditions constantly change and that the altitudes, dates, and times previously granted may or may not be approved with a renewal.
Questions / Comments?
If you have any questions or comments about the article or you would you like someone to review your application package before you submit it to the FAA, please contact the High Power Rocketry Services Committee and/or the Section Activities Committee.
|FAA Form 7711-2 (08-08)||April 10, 2019, 8:29 pm||191 KB|
|COA Supplemental Information (Word)||Other||April 10, 2019, 8:59 pm||19 KB|
|FAA Service Center Areas||April 10, 2019, 8:28 pm||2 MB|
|FAA Service Areas (Google Earth)||Other||April 12, 2019, 9:32 pm||24 KB|