Extension of the Prohibition Against Certain Flights in the Damascus Flight Information Region (FIR) (OSTT), 63410-63415 [2018-26680]

Download as PDF 63410 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 236 / Monday, December 10, 2018 / Rules and Regulations no extraordinary circumstances exist that warrant preparation of an environmental assessment. Lists of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 71 Airspace, Incorporation by reference, Navigation (air). Adoption of the Amendment In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation Administration amends 14 CFR part 71 as follows: PART 71—DESIGNATION OF CLASS A, B, C, D, AND E AIRSPACE AREAS; AIR TRAFFIC SERVICE ROUTES; AND REPORTING POINTS 1. The authority citation for part 71 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. § 71.1 [Amended] 2. The incorporation by reference in 14 CFR 71.1 of FAA Order 7400.11C, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 13, 2018, and effective September 15, 2018, is amended as follows: ■ Paragraph 6005 Class E Airspace Areas Extending Upward From 700 Feet or More Above the Surface of the Earth. * * * * This action extends the prohibition against certain flight operations in the Damascus Flight Information Region (FIR) (OSTT) by all: U.S. air carriers; U.S. commercial operators; persons exercising the privileges of an airman certificate issued by the FAA, except when such persons are operating U.S.-registered aircraft for a foreign air carrier; and operators of U.S.-registered civil aircraft, except where the operator of such aircraft is a foreign air carrier. The FAA finds this action to be necessary to address a potential hazard to persons and aircraft engaged in such flight operations. This action also includes minor editorial changes to this Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR), consistent with other recently published flight prohibition SFARs. DATES: This final rule is effective on December 10, 2018. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael Filippell, Air Transportation Division, Flight Standards Service, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20591; telephone 202–267–8166; email michael.e.filippell@faa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: * ACE MO E5 Cabool, MO [Amended] Cabool Memorial Airport, MO (Lat. 37°07′57″ N, long. 92°05′02″ W) That airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 6.3-mile radius of Cabool Memorial Airport. Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on November 26, 2018. Walter Tweedy, Acting Manager, Operations Support Group, ATO Central Service Center. [FR Doc. 2018–26502 Filed 12–7–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–13–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION I. Executive Summary This action extends the prohibition against flight operations in the Damascus FIR (OSTT) in SFAR No. 114 by all U.S. air carriers; U.S. commercial operators; persons exercising the privileges of an airman certificate issued by the FAA, except when such persons are operating U.S.-registered aircraft for a foreign air carrier; and operators of U.S.-registered civil aircraft, except where the operator of such aircraft is a foreign air carrier, from December 30, 2018, until December 30, 2020. This action also includes minor editorial changes to SFAR No. 114, title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 91.1609, consistent with other recently published flight prohibition SFARs. II. Legal Authority and Good Cause Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 91 [Docket No.: FAA–2017–0768; Amdt. No. 91–348B] RIN 2120–AL38 Extension of the Prohibition Against Certain Flights in the Damascus Flight Information Region (FIR) (OSTT) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Transportation (DOT). ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:14 Dec 07, 2018 Jkt 247001 A. Legal Authority The FAA is responsible for the safety of flight in the U.S. and for the safety of U.S. civil operators, U.S.-registered civil aircraft, and U.S.-certificated airmen throughout the world. The FAA Administrator’s authority to issue rules on aviation safety is found in title 49, United States Code (U.S. Code), Subtitle I, sections 106(f) and (g). Subtitle VII of title 49, Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the agency’s authority. Section 40101(d)(1) provides that the Administrator shall consider in the public interest, among other matters, PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 assigning, maintaining, and enhancing safety and security as the highest priorities in air commerce. Section 40105(b)(1)(A) requires the Administrator to exercise his authority consistently with the obligations of the U.S. Government under international agreements. This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority described in title 49, U.S. Code, Subtitle VII, Part A, subpart III, section 44701, General requirements. Under that section, the FAA is charged broadly with promoting safe flight of civil aircraft in air commerce by prescribing, among other things, regulations and minimum standards for practices, methods, and procedures that the Administrator finds necessary for safety in air commerce and national security. This regulation is within the scope of FAA’s authority, because it continues to prohibit the persons described in paragraph (a) of SFAR No. 114, 14 CFR 91.1609, from conducting flight operations in the Damascus FIR (OSTT) due to the continued hazards to the safety of U.S. civil flight operations, as described in the preamble to this final rule. The FAA also finds that this action is fully consistent with the obligations under 49 U.S.C. 40105(b)(1)(A) to ensure that the FAA exercises its duties consistently with the obligations of the United States under international agreements. B. Good Cause for Immediate Adoption Section 553(b)(3)(B) of title 5, U.S. Code, authorizes agencies to dispense with notice and comment procedures for rules when the agency for ‘‘good cause’’ finds that those procedures are ‘‘impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.’’ Section 553(d) also authorizes agencies to forgo the delay in the effective date of the final rule for good cause found and published with the rule. In this instance, the FAA finds good cause to forgo notice and comment because notice and comment would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest. In addition, it is contrary to the public interest to delay the effective date of this SFAR. The FAA has identified an ongoing need to maintain the flight prohibition in place in the Damascus FIR (OSTT) due to the combined threat to civil aviation from the multifaceted conflict and extremist threat, and militant activity. These hazards are further described in the preamble to this rule. To the extent that the rule is based upon classified information, such information is not permitted to be shared with the general public. Also, threats to U.S. civil aviation and intelligence regarding these E:\FR\FM\10DER1.SGM 10DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 236 / Monday, December 10, 2018 / Rules and Regulations threats can be fluid. As a result, the agency’s original proposal could become unsuitable for minimizing the hazards to U.S. civil aviation in the affected airspace during or after the notice and comment process. For these reasons, the FAA finds good cause to forgo notice and comment and any delay in the effective date for this rule. III. Background On August 29, 2017, the FAA reissued SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609, prohibiting certain flight operations in the Damascus FIR (OSTT) by all U.S. air carriers; U.S. commercial operators; persons exercising the privileges of an airman certificate issued by the FAA, except such persons operating a U.S.registered aircraft for a foreign air carrier; and operators of U.S.-registered civil aircraft, except where the operator is a foreign air carrier.1 The FAA determined that the significant threat to U.S. civil aviation operating in the Damascus FIR (OSTT), identified when the FAA first published SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609, on December 30, 2014,2 was ongoing due to the presence of antiaircraft weapons controlled by non-state actors, threats made by extremist groups, de-confliction concerns, and ongoing military fighting. Flight safety risks associated with de-confliction between various military forces conducting operations in Syria and civil aviation, which were identified as a concern in the original prohibition and reissuance in 2017, have continued. IV. Discussion of the Final Rule The FAA continues to assess the situation in the Damascus FIR (OSTT) as being hazardous for U.S. civil aviation. The Syrian conflict between pro-regime forces and various opposition groups (which include extremist elements) is extremely complex, exacerbated by the presence of third parties conducting military operations against one or more elements. Syrian allies Russia and Iran are also conducting military operations and have deployed significant air defense and electronic warfare capabilities, to include GPS interference, in the conflict zone, presenting an inadvertent risk to civil aviation operations within the Damascus FIR (OSTT). Additionally, violent extremist groups including Islamic State of Iraq and ash Sham (ISIS) and al Qaida-aligned entities possess, or have access to, a wide array of antiaircraft weapons that pose a risk to civil aviation operations within the 1 82 FR 40944. Corrected at 82 FR 42592, September 11, 2017. 2 79 FR 78299. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:14 Dec 07, 2018 Jkt 247001 Damascus FIR (OSTT). Anti-regime forces, extremists, and militants have successfully shot down multiple military aircraft using man portable air defense systems (MANPADS) during the conflict. Additionally, various elements have successfully targeted military aircraft using advanced anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM). ATGMs primarily pose a risk to civil aircraft operating near, or parked at, an airport. Various groups employ unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to surveil and attack Syrian and allied fielded forces and airfields. The multifaceted conflict in Syria poses significant risk to civil aviation operations within the Damascus FIR (OSTT). Therefore, as a result of the significant continuing risk to the safety of U.S. civil aviation in the Damascus FIR (OSTT), the FAA extends the expiration date of SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609, from December 30, 2018, to December 30, 2020, to maintain the prohibition on flight operations in the Damascus FIR (OSTT) by all U.S. air carriers; U.S. commercial operators; persons exercising the privileges of an airman certificate issued by the FAA, except when such persons are operating U.S.registered aircraft for a foreign air carrier; and operators of U.S.-registered civil aircraft, except where the operator is a foreign air carrier. While the FAA’s flight prohibition does not apply to foreign air carriers, DOT codeshare authorizations prohibit foreign air carriers from carrying a U.S. codeshare partner’s code on a flight segment that operates in airspace for which the FAA has issued a flight prohibition. The FAA will continue to actively monitor the situation and evaluate the extent to which U.S. civil operators and airmen may be able to operate safely in the Damascus FIR (OSTT). Amendments to SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609, may be appropriate if the risk to aviation safety and security changes. The FAA may amend or rescind SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609, as necessary, prior to its expiration date. The FAA is also incorporating minor editorial changes for clarifying purposes in § 91.1609, including revising the title of the FIR, and clarifying the procedure for considering approval and exemption requests. These changes are consistent with other recently published SFARs. The FAA is also republishing the details concerning the approval and exemption processes in Sections V and VI of this preamble so that interested persons will be able to refer to this final rule for all relevant information regarding SFAR No. 114. PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 63411 V. Approval Process Based on a Request From a Department, Agency, or Instrumentality of the United States Government A. Approval Process Based on an Authorization Request From a Department, Agency, or Instrumentality of the United States Government In some instances, U.S. government departments, agencies, or instrumentalities may need to engage U.S. civil aviation to support their activities in the Damascus FIR (OSTT). The FAA is clarifying the approval process for SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609(c), consistent with other recently published flight prohibition SFARs, as previously indicated. If a department, agency, or instrumentality of the U.S. Government determines that it has a critical need to engage any person described in SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609(a), including a U.S. air carrier or commercial operator, to conduct a charter to transport civilian or military passengers or cargo, or other operations, in the Damascus FIR (OSTT), that department, agency, or instrumentality may request the FAA to approve persons described in SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609(a), to conduct such operations. An approval request must be made directly by the requesting department, agency, or instrumentality of the U.S. Government to the FAA’s Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety in a letter signed by an appropriate senior official of the requesting department, agency, or instrumentality. The FAA will not accept or consider requests for approval by anyone other than the requesting department, agency, or instrumentality. In addition, the senior official signing the letter requesting FAA approval on behalf of the requesting department, agency, or instrumentality must be sufficiently positioned within the organization to demonstrate that the senior leadership of the requesting department, agency, or instrumentality supports the request for approval and is committed to taking all necessary steps to minimize operational risks to the proposed flights. The senior official must also be in a position to: (1) Attest to the accuracy of all representations made to the FAA in the request for approval and (2) ensure that any support from the requesting U.S. Government department, agency, or instrumentality described in the request for approval is in fact brought to bear and is maintained over time. Unless justified by exigent circumstances, requests for approval must be submitted to the FAA no less than 30 calendar days before the date on which the requesting department, agency, or E:\FR\FM\10DER1.SGM 10DER1 63412 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 236 / Monday, December 10, 2018 / Rules and Regulations instrumentality intends to commence the proposed operations. The letter must be sent to the Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20591. Electronic submissions are acceptable, and the requesting entity may request that the FAA notify it electronically as to whether the approval request is granted. If a requestor wishes to make an electronic submission to the FAA, the requestor should contact the Air Transportation Division, Flight Standards Service, at (202) 267–8166, to obtain the appropriate email address. A single letter may request approval from the FAA for multiple persons covered under SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609, and/or for multiple flight operations. To the extent known, the letter must identify the person(s) expected to be covered under the SFAR on whose behalf the U.S. Government department, agency, or instrumentality is seeking FAA approval, and it must describe— • The proposed operation(s), including the nature of the mission being supported; • The service to be provided by the person(s) covered by the SFAR; • To the extent known, the specific locations in the Damascus FIR (OSTT) where the proposed operation(s) will be conducted, including, but not limited to, the flight path and altitude of the aircraft while it is operating in the Damascus FIR (OSTT) and the airports, airfields and/or landing zones at which the aircraft will take-off and land; and • The method by which the department, agency, or instrumentality will provide, or how the operator will otherwise obtain, current threat information and an explanation of how the operator will integrate this information into all phases of the proposed operations (i.e., pre-mission planning and briefing, in-flight, and post-flight phases). The request for approval must also include a list of operators with whom the U.S. Government department, agency, or instrumentality requesting FAA approval has a current contract(s), grant(s), or cooperative agreement(s) (or its prime contractor has a subcontract(s)) for specific flight operations in the Damascus FIR (OSTT). Additional operators may be identified to the FAA at any time after the FAA approval is issued. However, all additional operators must be identified to, and obtain an Operations Specification (OpSpec) or Letter of Authorization (LOA), as appropriate, from the FAA for operations in the Damascus FIR (OSTT), before such VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:14 Dec 07, 2018 Jkt 247001 operators commence such operations. The approval conditions discussed below apply to any such additional operators. Updated lists should be sent to the email address to be obtained from the Air Transportation Division, by calling (202) 267–8166. If an approval request includes classified information, requestors may contact Aviation Safety Inspector Michael Filippell for instructions on submitting it to the FAA. His contact information is listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this final rule. FAA approval of an operation under SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609, does not relieve persons subject to this SFAR of their responsibility to comply with all applicable FAA rules and regulations. Operators of civil aircraft must comply with the conditions of their certificate, OpSpecs, and LOAs, as applicable. Operators must further comply with all rules and regulations of other U.S. Government departments or agencies that may apply to the proposed operation(s), including, but not limited to, regulations issued by the Transportation Security Administration. B. Approval Conditions If the FAA approves the request, the FAA’s Aviation Safety Organization will send an approval letter to the requesting department, agency, or instrumentality informing it that the FAA’s approval is subject to all of the following conditions: (1) The approval will stipulate those procedures and conditions that limit, to the greatest degree possible, the risk to the operator, while still allowing the operator to achieve its operational objectives. (2) Before any approval takes effect, the operator must submit to the FAA: (a) A written release of the U.S. Government from all damages, claims, and liabilities, including without limitation legal fees and expenses, relating to any event arising out of or related to the approved operations in the Damascus FIR (OSTT); and (b) The operator’s written agreement to indemnify the U.S. Government with respect to any and all third-party damages, claims, and liabilities, including without limitation legal fees and expenses, relating to any event arising from or related to the approved operations in the Damascus FIR (OSTT). (3) Other conditions that the FAA may specify, including those that may be imposed in OpSpecs or LOAs, as applicable. The release and agreement to indemnify do not preclude an operator from raising a claim under an applicable PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 non-premium war risk insurance policy issued by the FAA under chapter 443 of title 49, U.S. Code. If the FAA approves the proposed operation(s), the FAA will issue an OpSpec or LOA, as applicable, to the operator(s) identified in the original request authorizing them to conduct the approved operation(s), and will notify the department, agency, or instrumentality that requested the FAA’s approval of any additional conditions beyond those contained in the approval letter. VI. Information Regarding Petitions for Exemption Any operations not conducted under an approval issued by the FAA through the approval process set forth previously must be conducted under an exemption from SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609. A petition for exemption must comply with 14 CFR part 11 and requires exceptional circumstances beyond those contemplated by the approval process set forth previously. In addition to the information required by 14 CFR 11.81, at a minimum, the requestor must describe in its submission to the FAA— • The proposed operation(s), including the nature of the operation; • The service to be provided by the person(s) covered by the SFAR; • The specific locations in the Damascus FIR (OSTT) where the proposed operation(s) will be conducted, including, but not limited to, the flight path and altitude of the aircraft while it is operating in the Damascus FIR (OSTT) and the airports, airfields and/or landing zones at which the aircraft will take-off and land; • The method by which the operator will obtain current threat information, and an explanation of how the operator will integrate this information into all phases of its proposed operations (i.e., the pre-mission planning and briefing, in-flight, and post-flight phases); and • The plans and procedures that the operator will use to minimize the risks, identified in this preamble, to the proposed operations, so that granting the exemption would not adversely affect safety or would provide a level of safety at least equal to that provided by this SFAR. The FAA has found comprehensive, organized plans and procedures of this nature to be helpful in facilitating the agency’s safety evaluation of petitions for exemption from flight prohibition SFARs. Additionally, the release and agreement to indemnify, as referred to previously, are required as a condition of any exemption that may be issued under SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609. E:\FR\FM\10DER1.SGM 10DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 236 / Monday, December 10, 2018 / Rules and Regulations The FAA recognizes that operations that may be affected by SFAR No. 114, § 91.1609, may be planned for the governments of other countries with the support of the U.S. Government. While these operations will not be permitted through the approval process, the FAA will consider exemption requests for such operations on an expedited basis and prior to any private exemption requests. VII. Regulatory Notices and Analyses Changes to Federal regulations must undergo several economic analyses. First, Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct that each Federal agency shall propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that the benefits of the intended regulation justify its costs. Second, the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Pub. L. 96–354), as codified in 5 U.S.C. 603 et seq., requires agencies to analyze the economic impact of regulatory changes on small entities. Third, the Trade Agreements Act (Pub. L. 96–39), as amended, 19 U.S.C. Chapter 13, prohibits agencies from setting standards that create unnecessary obstacles to the foreign commerce of the United States. In developing U.S. standards, the Trade Agreements Act requires agencies to consider international standards and, where appropriate, that they be the basis of U.S. standards. Fourth, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104–4), as codified in 2 U.S.C. Chapter 25, requires agencies to prepare a written assessment of the costs, benefits, and other effects of proposed or final rules that include a Federal mandate likely to result in the expenditure by State, local, or tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more annually (adjusted for inflation with base year of 1995). This portion of the preamble summarizes the FAA’s analysis of the economic impacts of this final rule. In conducting these analyses, the FAA has determined that this final rule has benefits that justify its costs. This rule is a significant regulatory action, as defined in section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866, as it raises novel policy issues contemplated under that Executive Order. As notice and comment under 5 U.S.C. 553 are not required for this final rule, the regulatory flexibility analyses described in 5 U.S.C. 603 and 604 regarding impacts on small entities are not required. This rule will not create unnecessary obstacles to the foreign commerce of the United States and will not impose an unfunded mandate on State, local, or tribal governments, or on VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:14 Dec 07, 2018 Jkt 247001 the private sector, by exceeding the threshold identified previously. A. Regulatory Evaluation This rule prohibits U.S. civil flights in the entire Damascus FIR (OSTT). At the time of initial issuance of SFAR No. 114, 14 CFR 91.1609, on December 30, 2014, the FAA determined that incremental costs were minimal for U.S. operators of large transport category airplanes, because those U.S. operators conducting overflights in the Damascus FIR (parts 121 and 125 operators) had voluntarily ceased operating in the Damascus FIR beginning in 2011 due to the onset of hostilities in Syria, prior to the FAA’s action prohibiting U.S. civil operations in the Damascus FIR. The FAA also determined that the incremental costs of SFAR No. 114 were minimal for ‘‘on-demand’’ large carriers (parts 121 and 121/135) and small ‘‘ondemand’’ operators (parts 135, 125, and 91K). The FAA believed that few, if any, of these ‘‘on-demand’’ operators were still operating in the Damascus FIR (OSTT) immediately before the FAA issued FDC NOTAM 4/4936 due to preexisting hostilities in Syria dating back to 2011. As previously discussed, the FAA continues to assess the situation in the Damascus FIR (OSTT) as being hazardous for U.S. civil aviation due to continued military operations. The FAA believes there are very few, if any, U.S. operators who would seek to operate in the Damascus FIR (OSTT) at this time due to the hazards described in the Background section of this final rule. Therefore, the FAA finds that the incremental costs of extending SFAR No. 114, 14 CFR 91.1609 will be minimal and are exceeded by the benefits of avoided risks of deaths, injuries, and property damage that could result from a U.S. operator’s aircraft being shot down (or otherwise damaged). B. Regulatory Flexibility Act The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), in 5 U.S.C. 603, requires an agency to prepare an initial regulatory flexibility analysis describing impacts on small entities whenever an agency is required by 5 U.S.C. 553, or any other law, to publish a general notice of proposed rulemaking for any proposed rule. Similarly, 5 U.S.C. 604 requires an agency to prepare a final regulatory flexibility analysis when an agency issues a final rule under 5 U.S.C. 553, after being required by that section or any other law to publish a general notice of proposed rulemaking. The FAA found good cause to forgo notice and comment and any delay in the PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 63413 effective date for this rule. As notice and comment under 5 U.S.C. 553 are not required in this situation, the regulatory flexibility analyses described in 5 U.S.C. 603 and 604 are not required. C. International Trade Impact Assessment The Trade Agreements Act of 1979 (Pub. L. 96–39) prohibits Federal agencies from establishing standards or engaging in related activities that create unnecessary obstacles to the foreign commerce of the United States. Pursuant to this Act, the establishment of standards is not considered an unnecessary obstacle to the foreign commerce of the United States, so long as the standard has a legitimate domestic objective, such as the protection of safety, and does not operate in a manner that excludes imports that meet this objective. The statute also requires consideration of international standards and, where appropriate, that they be the basis for U.S. standards. The FAA has assessed the potential effect of this final rule and determined that its purpose is to protect the safety of U.S. civil aviation from hazards to their operations in the Damascus FIR (OSTT), a location outside the U.S. Therefore, the rule is in compliance with the Trade Agreements Act of 1979. D. Unfunded Mandates Assessment Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104–4) requires each Federal agency to prepare a written statement assessing the effects of any Federal mandate in a proposed or final agency rule that may result in an expenditure of $100 million or more (in 1995 dollars) in any one year by State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector; such a mandate is deemed to be a ‘‘significant regulatory action.’’ The FAA currently uses an inflation-adjusted value of $155.0 million in lieu of $100 million. This final rule does not contain such a mandate. Therefore, the requirements of Title II of the Act do not apply. E. Paperwork Reduction Act The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507(d)) requires that the FAA consider the impact of paperwork and other information collection burdens imposed on the public. The FAA has determined that there is no new requirement for information collection associated with this final rule. E:\FR\FM\10DER1.SGM 10DER1 63414 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 236 / Monday, December 10, 2018 / Rules and Regulations F. International Compatibility and Cooperation In keeping with U.S. obligations under the Convention on International Civil Aviation, it is FAA’s policy to conform to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Standards and Recommended Practices to the maximum extent practicable. The FAA has determined that there are no ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices that correspond to this regulation. G. Environmental Analysis The FAA has analyzed this action under Executive Order 12114, Environmental Effects Abroad of Major Federal Actions (44 FR 1957, January 4, 1979), and DOT Order 5610.1C, Paragraph 16. Executive Order 12114 requires the FAA to be informed of environmental considerations and take those considerations into account when making decisions on major Federal actions that could have environmental impacts anywhere beyond the borders of the United States. The FAA has determined that this action is exempt pursuant to Section 2–5(a)(i) of Executive Order 12114 because it does not have the potential for a significant effect on the environment outside the United States. In accordance with FAA Order 1050.1F, ‘‘Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures,’’ paragraph 8– 6(c), FAA has prepared a memorandum for the record stating the reason(s) for this determination; this memorandum has been placed in the docket for this rulemaking. VIII. Executive Order Determinations A. Executive Order 13132, Federalism The FAA has analyzed this rule under the principles and criteria of Executive Order 13132, Federalism. The agency has determined that this action would not have a substantial direct effect on the States, or the relationship between the Federal Government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government, and, therefore, would not have Federalism implications. B. Executive Order 13211, Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use The FAA analyzed this rule under Executive Order 13211, Actions Concerning Regulations that Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use (May 18, 2001). The agency has determined that it would not be a ‘‘significant energy action’’ under the executive order and would not be VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:14 Dec 07, 2018 Jkt 247001 likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy. C. Executive Order 13609, Promoting International Regulatory Cooperation Executive Order 13609, Promoting International Regulatory Cooperation, (77 FR 26413, May 4, 2012) promotes international regulatory cooperation to meet shared challenges involving health, safety, labor, security, environmental, and other issues and to reduce, eliminate, or prevent unnecessary differences in regulatory requirements. The FAA has analyzed this action under the policies and agency responsibilities of Executive Order 13609, and has determined that this action would have no effect on international regulatory cooperation. D. Executive Order 13771, Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs This rule is not subject to the requirements of E.O. 13771 (82 FR 9339, Feb. 3, 2017) because it is issued with respect to a national security function of the United States. IX. Additional Information A. Availability of Rulemaking Documents An electronic copy of a rulemaking document may be obtained from the internet by— • Searching the Federal Document Management System (FDMS) Portal (http://www.regulations.gov); • Visiting the FAA’s Regulations and Policies web page at http:// www.faa.gov/regulations_policies; or • Accessing the Government Publishing Office’s web page at http:// www.fdsys.gov. Copies may also be obtained by sending a request (identified by amendment or docket number of this rulemaking) to the Federal Aviation Administration, Office of Rulemaking, ARM–1, 800 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20591, or by calling (202) 267–9677. Except for classified material, all documents the FAA considered in developing this rule, including economic analyses and technical reports, may be accessed from the internet through the Federal Document Management System Portal referenced previously. B. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA) (Pub. L. 104–121) (set forth as a note to 5 U.S.C. 601) requires FAA to PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 comply with small entity requests for information or advice about compliance with statutes and regulations within its jurisdiction. A small entity with questions regarding this document may contact its local FAA official, or the persons listed under the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT heading at the beginning of the preamble. To find out more about SBREFA on the internet, visit http://www.faa.gov/regulations_ policies/rulemaking/sbre_act/. List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 91 Air traffic control, Aircraft, Airmen, Airports, Aviation safety, Freight, Syria. The Amendment In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation Administration amends chapter I of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, as follows: PART 91—GENERAL OPERATING AND FLIGHT RULES 1. The authority citation for part 91 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g), 106(g), 1155, 40101, 40103, 40105, 40113, 40120, 44101, 44111, 44701, 44704, 44709, 44711, 44712, 44715, 44716, 44717, 44722, 46306, 46315, 46316, 46504, 46506–46507, 47122, 47508, 47528–47531, 47534, Pub. L. 114–190, 130 Stat. 615 (49 U.S.C. 44703 note); articles 12 and 29 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (61 Stat. 1180), (126 Stat. 11). 2. In § 91.1609, revise the section heading and paragraphs (b), (c), (d), and (e) to read as follows: ■ § 91.1609 Special Federal Aviation Regulation No. 114—Prohibition Against Certain Flights in the Damascus Flight Information Region (FIR) (OSTT). * * * * * (b) Flight prohibition. Except as provided in paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section, no person described in paragraph (a) of this section may conduct flight operations in the Damascus Flight Information Region (FIR) (OSTT). (c) Permitted operations. This section does not prohibit persons described in paragraph (a) of this section from conducting flight operations in the Damascus Flight Information Region (FIR) (OSTT), provided that such flight operations are conducted under a contract, grant, or cooperative agreement with a department, agency, or instrumentality of the U.S. government (or under a subcontract between the prime contractor of the department, agency, or instrumentality and the person described in paragraph (a) of this section) with the approval of the FAA, or under an exemption issued by the FAA. The FAA will consider requests E:\FR\FM\10DER1.SGM 10DER1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 236 / Monday, December 10, 2018 / Rules and Regulations for approval or exemption in a timely manner, with the order of preference being: First, for those operations in support of U.S. government-sponsored activities; second, for those operations in support of government-sponsored activities of a foreign country with the support of a U.S. government department, agency, or instrumentality; and third, for all other operations. (d) Emergency situations. In an emergency that requires immediate decision and action for the safety of the flight, the pilot in command of an aircraft may deviate from this section to the extent required by that emergency. Except for U.S. air carriers and commercial operators that are subject to the requirements of 14 CFR part 119, 121, 125, or 135, each person who deviates from this section must, within 10 days of the deviation, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays, submit to the responsible Flight Standards office a complete report of the operations of the aircraft involved in the deviation, including a description of the deviation and the reasons for it. (e) Expiration. This SFAR will remain in effect until December 30, 2020. The FAA may amend, rescind, or extend this SFAR, as necessary. Issued in Washington, DC, under the authority of 49 U.S.C. 106(f) and (g), 40101(d)(1), 40105(b)(1)(A), and 44701(a)(5), on November 30, 2018. Daniel K. Elwell, Acting Administrator. [FR Doc. 2018–26680 Filed 12–7–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–13–P SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION 20 CFR Part 401 [Docket No. SSA–2015–0003] RIN 0960–AI08 Social Security Administration Violence Evaluation and Reporting System Social Security Administration. Final rule. AGENCY: ACTION: We are issuing a final rule to exempt a system of records entitled Social Security Administration Violence Evaluation and Reporting System (SSAvers) from certain provisions of the Privacy Act because this system will contain investigatory material compiled for law enforcement purposes. DATES: This rule is effective January 9, 2019. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Pamela J. Carcirieri, Supervisory SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:14 Dec 07, 2018 Jkt 247001 Government Information Specialist, SSA, Office of Privacy and Disclosure, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21235–6401, Phone: (410) 965–0355, for information about this rule. For information on eligibility or filing for benefits, call our national tollfree number, 1–800–772–1213 or TTY 1–800–325–0778, or visit our internet site, Social Security Online, at http:// www.socialsecurity.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background On June 14, 2018, we published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) 1 in the Federal Register in which we proposed to add SSAvers to the list of SSA systems that are exempt from specific provisions of the Privacy Act pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(2). As part of our Workplace and Domestic Violence policy and program, SSAvers houses information regarding alleged incidents of workplace and domestic violence filed by SSA employees and contractors. It also provides a centralized means for us to review and respond to the reported allegations. This final rule adds SSAvers to the list of SSA systems that are exempt from specific provisions of the Privacy Act due to the investigatory nature of information that is maintained in this system. Public Comments and Discussion In the NPRM, we provided a 30-day comment period, which ended on July 16, 2018. We received four comments.2 We opted not to post one of these comments because it was submitted by a former SSA employee and it contained sensitive information. The remaining comments were submitted by members of the public. The first commenter indicated that he or she did not understand the comment and review. While we regret that this commenter did not understand the proposal, we did not consider this comment further when determining to adopt this as a final rule. The second commenter agreed with the new system of records and said it is imperative to have a system, like SSAvers, which will help review and investigate allegations of workplace or domestic violence. She said it would be convenient to make a reporting system that is easy to access and that removes the burden of the long process of reporting an occurrence. 1 83 FR 27728. posted public comments are viewable at https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=SSA-20150003. The third commenter objected to our proposal, because, in the commenter’s opinion, the proposal is against public policy and defeats the purpose of the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The commenter said that by making results of investigations inaccessible, it is impossible to know whether the perpetrators of workplace and domestic violence are held accountable. The commenter wrote that by denying everyone access to the information obtained from these investigations, SSA places the cost and burden of conducting the same investigation on others, especially the victims who have a special interest in knowing that the perpetrators of the violence are held accountable. We carefully considered this comment and the objections presented. In response, we want to emphasize that SSAvers contains information we collect about not just alleged victims of workplace violence, but any employees, contractors, and members of the public who are witnesses of, involved in responding to, or allegedly involved in workplace and domestic violence affecting our employees and contractors. This highly sensitive information may include the name and contact information of individuals involved; personal information related to alleged behaviors of concern and assessing the risk of violence; and our response and recommendations to mitigate risks of violence. Due to the investigatory and sensitive nature of the content contained in this system, we continue to believe that exempting this system of records from certain provisions of the Privacy Act based on 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(2) is appropriate. Further, we want to clarify that, under the Privacy Act, an individual may request notification of or access to a record in this system, even though SSAvers is listed as an exempt system. We may still grant notification of and access to information contained in a record in an exempt system when the privacy of third parties would not be compromised by such action. In addition, an individual may still request these records under the FOIA, and SSA would release the records as required by law. After carefully considering the public comments, we are adopting this final rule. 2 The PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 63415 E:\FR\FM\10DER1.SGM 10DER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 236 (Monday, December 10, 2018)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 63410-63415]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-26680]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 91

[Docket No.: FAA-2017-0768; Amdt. No. 91-348B]
RIN 2120-AL38


Extension of the Prohibition Against Certain Flights in the 
Damascus Flight Information Region (FIR) (OSTT)

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of 
Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This action extends the prohibition against certain flight 
operations in the Damascus Flight Information Region (FIR) (OSTT) by 
all: U.S. air carriers; U.S. commercial operators; persons exercising 
the privileges of an airman certificate issued by the FAA, except when 
such persons are operating U.S.-registered aircraft for a foreign air 
carrier; and operators of U.S.-registered civil aircraft, except where 
the operator of such aircraft is a foreign air carrier. The FAA finds 
this action to be necessary to address a potential hazard to persons 
and aircraft engaged in such flight operations. This action also 
includes minor editorial changes to this Special Federal Aviation 
Regulation (SFAR), consistent with other recently published flight 
prohibition SFARs.

DATES: This final rule is effective on December 10, 2018.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael Filippell, Air Transportation 
Division, Flight Standards Service, Federal Aviation Administration, 
800 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20591; telephone 202-267-
8166; email [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Executive Summary

    This action extends the prohibition against flight operations in 
the Damascus FIR (OSTT) in SFAR No. 114 by all U.S. air carriers; U.S. 
commercial operators; persons exercising the privileges of an airman 
certificate issued by the FAA, except when such persons are operating 
U.S.-registered aircraft for a foreign air carrier; and operators of 
U.S.-registered civil aircraft, except where the operator of such 
aircraft is a foreign air carrier, from December 30, 2018, until 
December 30, 2020. This action also includes minor editorial changes to 
SFAR No. 114, title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 91.1609, 
consistent with other recently published flight prohibition SFARs.

II. Legal Authority and Good Cause

A. Legal Authority

    The FAA is responsible for the safety of flight in the U.S. and for 
the safety of U.S. civil operators, U.S.-registered civil aircraft, and 
U.S.-certificated airmen throughout the world. The FAA Administrator's 
authority to issue rules on aviation safety is found in title 49, 
United States Code (U.S. Code), Subtitle I, sections 106(f) and (g). 
Subtitle VII of title 49, Aviation Programs, describes in more detail 
the scope of the agency's authority. Section 40101(d)(1) provides that 
the Administrator shall consider in the public interest, among other 
matters, assigning, maintaining, and enhancing safety and security as 
the highest priorities in air commerce. Section 40105(b)(1)(A) requires 
the Administrator to exercise his authority consistently with the 
obligations of the U.S. Government under international agreements.
    This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority described in 
title 49, U.S. Code, Subtitle VII, Part A, subpart III, section 44701, 
General requirements. Under that section, the FAA is charged broadly 
with promoting safe flight of civil aircraft in air commerce by 
prescribing, among other things, regulations and minimum standards for 
practices, methods, and procedures that the Administrator finds 
necessary for safety in air commerce and national security.
    This regulation is within the scope of FAA's authority, because it 
continues to prohibit the persons described in paragraph (a) of SFAR 
No. 114, 14 CFR 91.1609, from conducting flight operations in the 
Damascus FIR (OSTT) due to the continued hazards to the safety of U.S. 
civil flight operations, as described in the preamble to this final 
rule. The FAA also finds that this action is fully consistent with the 
obligations under 49 U.S.C. 40105(b)(1)(A) to ensure that the FAA 
exercises its duties consistently with the obligations of the United 
States under international agreements.

B. Good Cause for Immediate Adoption

    Section 553(b)(3)(B) of title 5, U.S. Code, authorizes agencies to 
dispense with notice and comment procedures for rules when the agency 
for ``good cause'' finds that those procedures are ``impracticable, 
unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.'' Section 553(d) also 
authorizes agencies to forgo the delay in the effective date of the 
final rule for good cause found and published with the rule. In this 
instance, the FAA finds good cause to forgo notice and comment because 
notice and comment would be impracticable and contrary to the public 
interest. In addition, it is contrary to the public interest to delay 
the effective date of this SFAR.
    The FAA has identified an ongoing need to maintain the flight 
prohibition in place in the Damascus FIR (OSTT) due to the combined 
threat to civil aviation from the multifaceted conflict and extremist 
threat, and militant activity. These hazards are further described in 
the preamble to this rule. To the extent that the rule is based upon 
classified information, such information is not permitted to be shared 
with the general public. Also, threats to U.S. civil aviation and 
intelligence regarding these

[[Page 63411]]

threats can be fluid. As a result, the agency's original proposal could 
become unsuitable for minimizing the hazards to U.S. civil aviation in 
the affected airspace during or after the notice and comment process. 
For these reasons, the FAA finds good cause to forgo notice and comment 
and any delay in the effective date for this rule.

III. Background

    On August 29, 2017, the FAA reissued SFAR No. 114, Sec.  91.1609, 
prohibiting certain flight operations in the Damascus FIR (OSTT) by all 
U.S. air carriers; U.S. commercial operators; persons exercising the 
privileges of an airman certificate issued by the FAA, except such 
persons operating a U.S.-registered aircraft for a foreign air carrier; 
and operators of U.S.-registered civil aircraft, except where the 
operator is a foreign air carrier.\1\ The FAA determined that the 
significant threat to U.S. civil aviation operating in the Damascus FIR 
(OSTT), identified when the FAA first published SFAR No. 114, Sec.  
91.1609, on December 30, 2014,\2\ was ongoing due to the presence of 
anti-aircraft weapons controlled by non-state actors, threats made by 
extremist groups, de-confliction concerns, and ongoing military 
fighting. Flight safety risks associated with de-confliction between 
various military forces conducting operations in Syria and civil 
aviation, which were identified as a concern in the original 
prohibition and reissuance in 2017, have continued.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ 82 FR 40944. Corrected at 82 FR 42592, September 11, 2017.
    \2\ 79 FR 78299.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

IV. Discussion of the Final Rule

    The FAA continues to assess the situation in the Damascus FIR 
(OSTT) as being hazardous for U.S. civil aviation. The Syrian conflict 
between pro-regime forces and various opposition groups (which include 
extremist elements) is extremely complex, exacerbated by the presence 
of third parties conducting military operations against one or more 
elements. Syrian allies Russia and Iran are also conducting military 
operations and have deployed significant air defense and electronic 
warfare capabilities, to include GPS interference, in the conflict 
zone, presenting an inadvertent risk to civil aviation operations 
within the Damascus FIR (OSTT). Additionally, violent extremist groups 
including Islamic State of Iraq and ash Sham (ISIS) and al Qaida-
aligned entities possess, or have access to, a wide array of anti-
aircraft weapons that pose a risk to civil aviation operations within 
the Damascus FIR (OSTT). Anti-regime forces, extremists, and militants 
have successfully shot down multiple military aircraft using man 
portable air defense systems (MANPADS) during the conflict. 
Additionally, various elements have successfully targeted military 
aircraft using advanced anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM). ATGMs 
primarily pose a risk to civil aircraft operating near, or parked at, 
an airport. Various groups employ unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to 
surveil and attack Syrian and allied fielded forces and airfields. The 
multifaceted conflict in Syria poses significant risk to civil aviation 
operations within the Damascus FIR (OSTT).
    Therefore, as a result of the significant continuing risk to the 
safety of U.S. civil aviation in the Damascus FIR (OSTT), the FAA 
extends the expiration date of SFAR No. 114, Sec.  91.1609, from 
December 30, 2018, to December 30, 2020, to maintain the prohibition on 
flight operations in the Damascus FIR (OSTT) by all U.S. air carriers; 
U.S. commercial operators; persons exercising the privileges of an 
airman certificate issued by the FAA, except when such persons are 
operating U.S.-registered aircraft for a foreign air carrier; and 
operators of U.S.-registered civil aircraft, except where the operator 
is a foreign air carrier. While the FAA's flight prohibition does not 
apply to foreign air carriers, DOT codeshare authorizations prohibit 
foreign air carriers from carrying a U.S. codeshare partner's code on a 
flight segment that operates in airspace for which the FAA has issued a 
flight prohibition.
    The FAA will continue to actively monitor the situation and 
evaluate the extent to which U.S. civil operators and airmen may be 
able to operate safely in the Damascus FIR (OSTT). Amendments to SFAR 
No. 114, Sec.  91.1609, may be appropriate if the risk to aviation 
safety and security changes. The FAA may amend or rescind SFAR No. 114, 
Sec.  91.1609, as necessary, prior to its expiration date.
    The FAA is also incorporating minor editorial changes for 
clarifying purposes in Sec.  91.1609, including revising the title of 
the FIR, and clarifying the procedure for considering approval and 
exemption requests. These changes are consistent with other recently 
published SFARs. The FAA is also republishing the details concerning 
the approval and exemption processes in Sections V and VI of this 
preamble so that interested persons will be able to refer to this final 
rule for all relevant information regarding SFAR No. 114.

V. Approval Process Based on a Request From a Department, Agency, or 
Instrumentality of the United States Government

A. Approval Process Based on an Authorization Request From a 
Department, Agency, or Instrumentality of the United States Government

    In some instances, U.S. government departments, agencies, or 
instrumentalities may need to engage U.S. civil aviation to support 
their activities in the Damascus FIR (OSTT). The FAA is clarifying the 
approval process for SFAR No. 114, Sec.  91.1609(c), consistent with 
other recently published flight prohibition SFARs, as previously 
indicated. If a department, agency, or instrumentality of the U.S. 
Government determines that it has a critical need to engage any person 
described in SFAR No. 114, Sec.  91.1609(a), including a U.S. air 
carrier or commercial operator, to conduct a charter to transport 
civilian or military passengers or cargo, or other operations, in the 
Damascus FIR (OSTT), that department, agency, or instrumentality may 
request the FAA to approve persons described in SFAR No. 114, Sec.  
91.1609(a), to conduct such operations.
    An approval request must be made directly by the requesting 
department, agency, or instrumentality of the U.S. Government to the 
FAA's Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety in a letter signed by 
an appropriate senior official of the requesting department, agency, or 
instrumentality. The FAA will not accept or consider requests for 
approval by anyone other than the requesting department, agency, or 
instrumentality. In addition, the senior official signing the letter 
requesting FAA approval on behalf of the requesting department, agency, 
or instrumentality must be sufficiently positioned within the 
organization to demonstrate that the senior leadership of the 
requesting department, agency, or instrumentality supports the request 
for approval and is committed to taking all necessary steps to minimize 
operational risks to the proposed flights. The senior official must 
also be in a position to: (1) Attest to the accuracy of all 
representations made to the FAA in the request for approval and (2) 
ensure that any support from the requesting U.S. Government department, 
agency, or instrumentality described in the request for approval is in 
fact brought to bear and is maintained over time. Unless justified by 
exigent circumstances, requests for approval must be submitted to the 
FAA no less than 30 calendar days before the date on which the 
requesting department, agency, or

[[Page 63412]]

instrumentality intends to commence the proposed operations.
    The letter must be sent to the Associate Administrator for Aviation 
Safety, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW, 
Washington, DC 20591. Electronic submissions are acceptable, and the 
requesting entity may request that the FAA notify it electronically as 
to whether the approval request is granted. If a requestor wishes to 
make an electronic submission to the FAA, the requestor should contact 
the Air Transportation Division, Flight Standards Service, at (202) 
267-8166, to obtain the appropriate email address. A single letter may 
request approval from the FAA for multiple persons covered under SFAR 
No. 114, Sec.  91.1609, and/or for multiple flight operations. To the 
extent known, the letter must identify the person(s) expected to be 
covered under the SFAR on whose behalf the U.S. Government department, 
agency, or instrumentality is seeking FAA approval, and it must 
describe--
     The proposed operation(s), including the nature of the 
mission being supported;
     The service to be provided by the person(s) covered by the 
SFAR;
     To the extent known, the specific locations in the 
Damascus FIR (OSTT) where the proposed operation(s) will be conducted, 
including, but not limited to, the flight path and altitude of the 
aircraft while it is operating in the Damascus FIR (OSTT) and the 
airports, airfields and/or landing zones at which the aircraft will 
take-off and land; and
     The method by which the department, agency, or 
instrumentality will provide, or how the operator will otherwise 
obtain, current threat information and an explanation of how the 
operator will integrate this information into all phases of the 
proposed operations (i.e., pre-mission planning and briefing, in-
flight, and post-flight phases).
    The request for approval must also include a list of operators with 
whom the U.S. Government department, agency, or instrumentality 
requesting FAA approval has a current contract(s), grant(s), or 
cooperative agreement(s) (or its prime contractor has a subcontract(s)) 
for specific flight operations in the Damascus FIR (OSTT). Additional 
operators may be identified to the FAA at any time after the FAA 
approval is issued. However, all additional operators must be 
identified to, and obtain an Operations Specification (OpSpec) or 
Letter of Authorization (LOA), as appropriate, from the FAA for 
operations in the Damascus FIR (OSTT), before such operators commence 
such operations. The approval conditions discussed below apply to any 
such additional operators. Updated lists should be sent to the email 
address to be obtained from the Air Transportation Division, by calling 
(202) 267-8166.
    If an approval request includes classified information, requestors 
may contact Aviation Safety Inspector Michael Filippell for 
instructions on submitting it to the FAA. His contact information is 
listed in the For Further Information Contact section of this final 
rule.
    FAA approval of an operation under SFAR No. 114, Sec.  91.1609, 
does not relieve persons subject to this SFAR of their responsibility 
to comply with all applicable FAA rules and regulations. Operators of 
civil aircraft must comply with the conditions of their certificate, 
OpSpecs, and LOAs, as applicable. Operators must further comply with 
all rules and regulations of other U.S. Government departments or 
agencies that may apply to the proposed operation(s), including, but 
not limited to, regulations issued by the Transportation Security 
Administration.

B. Approval Conditions

    If the FAA approves the request, the FAA's Aviation Safety 
Organization will send an approval letter to the requesting department, 
agency, or instrumentality informing it that the FAA's approval is 
subject to all of the following conditions:
    (1) The approval will stipulate those procedures and conditions 
that limit, to the greatest degree possible, the risk to the operator, 
while still allowing the operator to achieve its operational 
objectives.
    (2) Before any approval takes effect, the operator must submit to 
the FAA:
    (a) A written release of the U.S. Government from all damages, 
claims, and liabilities, including without limitation legal fees and 
expenses, relating to any event arising out of or related to the 
approved operations in the Damascus FIR (OSTT); and
    (b) The operator's written agreement to indemnify the U.S. 
Government with respect to any and all third-party damages, claims, and 
liabilities, including without limitation legal fees and expenses, 
relating to any event arising from or related to the approved 
operations in the Damascus FIR (OSTT).
    (3) Other conditions that the FAA may specify, including those that 
may be imposed in OpSpecs or LOAs, as applicable.
    The release and agreement to indemnify do not preclude an operator 
from raising a claim under an applicable non-premium war risk insurance 
policy issued by the FAA under chapter 443 of title 49, U.S. Code.
    If the FAA approves the proposed operation(s), the FAA will issue 
an OpSpec or LOA, as applicable, to the operator(s) identified in the 
original request authorizing them to conduct the approved operation(s), 
and will notify the department, agency, or instrumentality that 
requested the FAA's approval of any additional conditions beyond those 
contained in the approval letter.

VI. Information Regarding Petitions for Exemption

    Any operations not conducted under an approval issued by the FAA 
through the approval process set forth previously must be conducted 
under an exemption from SFAR No. 114, Sec.  91.1609. A petition for 
exemption must comply with 14 CFR part 11 and requires exceptional 
circumstances beyond those contemplated by the approval process set 
forth previously. In addition to the information required by 14 CFR 
11.81, at a minimum, the requestor must describe in its submission to 
the FAA--
     The proposed operation(s), including the nature of the 
operation;
     The service to be provided by the person(s) covered by the 
SFAR;
     The specific locations in the Damascus FIR (OSTT) where 
the proposed operation(s) will be conducted, including, but not limited 
to, the flight path and altitude of the aircraft while it is operating 
in the Damascus FIR (OSTT) and the airports, airfields and/or landing 
zones at which the aircraft will take-off and land;
     The method by which the operator will obtain current 
threat information, and an explanation of how the operator will 
integrate this information into all phases of its proposed operations 
(i.e., the pre-mission planning and briefing, in-flight, and post-
flight phases); and
     The plans and procedures that the operator will use to 
minimize the risks, identified in this preamble, to the proposed 
operations, so that granting the exemption would not adversely affect 
safety or would provide a level of safety at least equal to that 
provided by this SFAR. The FAA has found comprehensive, organized plans 
and procedures of this nature to be helpful in facilitating the 
agency's safety evaluation of petitions for exemption from flight 
prohibition SFARs.
    Additionally, the release and agreement to indemnify, as referred 
to previously, are required as a condition of any exemption that may be 
issued under SFAR No. 114, Sec.  91.1609.

[[Page 63413]]

    The FAA recognizes that operations that may be affected by SFAR No. 
114, Sec.  91.1609, may be planned for the governments of other 
countries with the support of the U.S. Government. While these 
operations will not be permitted through the approval process, the FAA 
will consider exemption requests for such operations on an expedited 
basis and prior to any private exemption requests.

VII. Regulatory Notices and Analyses

    Changes to Federal regulations must undergo several economic 
analyses. First, Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct that each 
Federal agency shall propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned 
determination that the benefits of the intended regulation justify its 
costs. Second, the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Pub. L. 96-354), 
as codified in 5 U.S.C. 603 et seq., requires agencies to analyze the 
economic impact of regulatory changes on small entities. Third, the 
Trade Agreements Act (Pub. L. 96-39), as amended, 19 U.S.C. Chapter 13, 
prohibits agencies from setting standards that create unnecessary 
obstacles to the foreign commerce of the United States. In developing 
U.S. standards, the Trade Agreements Act requires agencies to consider 
international standards and, where appropriate, that they be the basis 
of U.S. standards. Fourth, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 
(Pub. L. 104-4), as codified in 2 U.S.C. Chapter 25, requires agencies 
to prepare a written assessment of the costs, benefits, and other 
effects of proposed or final rules that include a Federal mandate 
likely to result in the expenditure by State, local, or tribal 
governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 
million or more annually (adjusted for inflation with base year of 
1995). This portion of the preamble summarizes the FAA's analysis of 
the economic impacts of this final rule.
    In conducting these analyses, the FAA has determined that this 
final rule has benefits that justify its costs. This rule is a 
significant regulatory action, as defined in section 3(f) of Executive 
Order 12866, as it raises novel policy issues contemplated under that 
Executive Order. As notice and comment under 5 U.S.C. 553 are not 
required for this final rule, the regulatory flexibility analyses 
described in 5 U.S.C. 603 and 604 regarding impacts on small entities 
are not required. This rule will not create unnecessary obstacles to 
the foreign commerce of the United States and will not impose an 
unfunded mandate on State, local, or tribal governments, or on the 
private sector, by exceeding the threshold identified previously.

A. Regulatory Evaluation

    This rule prohibits U.S. civil flights in the entire Damascus FIR 
(OSTT). At the time of initial issuance of SFAR No. 114, 14 CFR 
91.1609, on December 30, 2014, the FAA determined that incremental 
costs were minimal for U.S. operators of large transport category 
airplanes, because those U.S. operators conducting overflights in the 
Damascus FIR (parts 121 and 125 operators) had voluntarily ceased 
operating in the Damascus FIR beginning in 2011 due to the onset of 
hostilities in Syria, prior to the FAA's action prohibiting U.S. civil 
operations in the Damascus FIR. The FAA also determined that the 
incremental costs of SFAR No. 114 were minimal for ``on-demand'' large 
carriers (parts 121 and 121/135) and small ``on-demand'' operators 
(parts 135, 125, and 91K). The FAA believed that few, if any, of these 
``on-demand'' operators were still operating in the Damascus FIR (OSTT) 
immediately before the FAA issued FDC NOTAM 4/4936 due to preexisting 
hostilities in Syria dating back to 2011.
    As previously discussed, the FAA continues to assess the situation 
in the Damascus FIR (OSTT) as being hazardous for U.S. civil aviation 
due to continued military operations. The FAA believes there are very 
few, if any, U.S. operators who would seek to operate in the Damascus 
FIR (OSTT) at this time due to the hazards described in the Background 
section of this final rule. Therefore, the FAA finds that the 
incremental costs of extending SFAR No. 114, 14 CFR 91.1609 will be 
minimal and are exceeded by the benefits of avoided risks of deaths, 
injuries, and property damage that could result from a U.S. operator's 
aircraft being shot down (or otherwise damaged).

B. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), in 5 U.S.C. 603, requires an 
agency to prepare an initial regulatory flexibility analysis describing 
impacts on small entities whenever an agency is required by 5 U.S.C. 
553, or any other law, to publish a general notice of proposed 
rulemaking for any proposed rule. Similarly, 5 U.S.C. 604 requires an 
agency to prepare a final regulatory flexibility analysis when an 
agency issues a final rule under 5 U.S.C. 553, after being required by 
that section or any other law to publish a general notice of proposed 
rulemaking. The FAA found good cause to forgo notice and comment and 
any delay in the effective date for this rule. As notice and comment 
under 5 U.S.C. 553 are not required in this situation, the regulatory 
flexibility analyses described in 5 U.S.C. 603 and 604 are not 
required.

C. International Trade Impact Assessment

    The Trade Agreements Act of 1979 (Pub. L. 96-39) prohibits Federal 
agencies from establishing standards or engaging in related activities 
that create unnecessary obstacles to the foreign commerce of the United 
States. Pursuant to this Act, the establishment of standards is not 
considered an unnecessary obstacle to the foreign commerce of the 
United States, so long as the standard has a legitimate domestic 
objective, such as the protection of safety, and does not operate in a 
manner that excludes imports that meet this objective. The statute also 
requires consideration of international standards and, where 
appropriate, that they be the basis for U.S. standards.
    The FAA has assessed the potential effect of this final rule and 
determined that its purpose is to protect the safety of U.S. civil 
aviation from hazards to their operations in the Damascus FIR (OSTT), a 
location outside the U.S. Therefore, the rule is in compliance with the 
Trade Agreements Act of 1979.

D. Unfunded Mandates Assessment

    Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-
4) requires each Federal agency to prepare a written statement 
assessing the effects of any Federal mandate in a proposed or final 
agency rule that may result in an expenditure of $100 million or more 
(in 1995 dollars) in any one year by State, local, and tribal 
governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector; such a mandate 
is deemed to be a ``significant regulatory action.'' The FAA currently 
uses an inflation-adjusted value of $155.0 million in lieu of $100 
million.
    This final rule does not contain such a mandate. Therefore, the 
requirements of Title II of the Act do not apply.

E. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507(d)) requires 
that the FAA consider the impact of paperwork and other information 
collection burdens imposed on the public. The FAA has determined that 
there is no new requirement for information collection associated with 
this final rule.

[[Page 63414]]

F. International Compatibility and Cooperation

    In keeping with U.S. obligations under the Convention on 
International Civil Aviation, it is FAA's policy to conform to 
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Standards and 
Recommended Practices to the maximum extent practicable. The FAA has 
determined that there are no ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices 
that correspond to this regulation.

G. Environmental Analysis

    The FAA has analyzed this action under Executive Order 12114, 
Environmental Effects Abroad of Major Federal Actions (44 FR 1957, 
January 4, 1979), and DOT Order 5610.1C, Paragraph 16. Executive Order 
12114 requires the FAA to be informed of environmental considerations 
and take those considerations into account when making decisions on 
major Federal actions that could have environmental impacts anywhere 
beyond the borders of the United States. The FAA has determined that 
this action is exempt pursuant to Section 2-5(a)(i) of Executive Order 
12114 because it does not have the potential for a significant effect 
on the environment outside the United States.
    In accordance with FAA Order 1050.1F, ``Environmental Impacts: 
Policies and Procedures,'' paragraph 8-6(c), FAA has prepared a 
memorandum for the record stating the reason(s) for this determination; 
this memorandum has been placed in the docket for this rulemaking.

VIII. Executive Order Determinations

A. Executive Order 13132, Federalism

    The FAA has analyzed this rule under the principles and criteria of 
Executive Order 13132, Federalism. The agency has determined that this 
action would not have a substantial direct effect on the States, or the 
relationship between the Federal Government and the States, or on the 
distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of 
government, and, therefore, would not have Federalism implications.

B. Executive Order 13211, Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy 
Supply, Distribution, or Use

    The FAA analyzed this rule under Executive Order 13211, Actions 
Concerning Regulations that Significantly Affect Energy Supply, 
Distribution, or Use (May 18, 2001). The agency has determined that it 
would not be a ``significant energy action'' under the executive order 
and would not be likely to have a significant adverse effect on the 
supply, distribution, or use of energy.

C. Executive Order 13609, Promoting International Regulatory 
Cooperation

    Executive Order 13609, Promoting International Regulatory 
Cooperation, (77 FR 26413, May 4, 2012) promotes international 
regulatory cooperation to meet shared challenges involving health, 
safety, labor, security, environmental, and other issues and to reduce, 
eliminate, or prevent unnecessary differences in regulatory 
requirements. The FAA has analyzed this action under the policies and 
agency responsibilities of Executive Order 13609, and has determined 
that this action would have no effect on international regulatory 
cooperation.

D. Executive Order 13771, Reducing Regulation and Controlling 
Regulatory Costs

    This rule is not subject to the requirements of E.O. 13771 (82 FR 
9339, Feb. 3, 2017) because it is issued with respect to a national 
security function of the United States.

IX. Additional Information

A. Availability of Rulemaking Documents

    An electronic copy of a rulemaking document may be obtained from 
the internet by--
     Searching the Federal Document Management System (FDMS) 
Portal (http://www.regulations.gov);
     Visiting the FAA's Regulations and Policies web page at 
http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies; or
     Accessing the Government Publishing Office's web page at 
http://www.fdsys.gov.
    Copies may also be obtained by sending a request (identified by 
amendment or docket number of this rulemaking) to the Federal Aviation 
Administration, Office of Rulemaking, ARM-1, 800 Independence Avenue 
SW, Washington, DC 20591, or by calling (202) 267-9677.
    Except for classified material, all documents the FAA considered in 
developing this rule, including economic analyses and technical 
reports, may be accessed from the internet through the Federal Document 
Management System Portal referenced previously.

B. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 
(SBREFA) (Pub. L. 104-121) (set forth as a note to 5 U.S.C. 601) 
requires FAA to comply with small entity requests for information or 
advice about compliance with statutes and regulations within its 
jurisdiction. A small entity with questions regarding this document may 
contact its local FAA official, or the persons listed under the FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT heading at the beginning of the preamble. 
To find out more about SBREFA on the internet, visit http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/sbre_act/.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 91

    Air traffic control, Aircraft, Airmen, Airports, Aviation safety, 
Freight, Syria.

The Amendment

    In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation 
Administration amends chapter I of title 14, Code of Federal 
Regulations, as follows:

PART 91--GENERAL OPERATING AND FLIGHT RULES

0
1. The authority citation for part 91 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g), 106(g), 1155, 40101, 
40103, 40105, 40113, 40120, 44101, 44111, 44701, 44704, 44709, 
44711, 44712, 44715, 44716, 44717, 44722, 46306, 46315, 46316, 
46504, 46506-46507, 47122, 47508, 47528-47531, 47534, Pub. L. 114-
190, 130 Stat. 615 (49 U.S.C. 44703 note); articles 12 and 29 of the 
Convention on International Civil Aviation (61 Stat. 1180), (126 
Stat. 11).


0
2. In Sec.  91.1609, revise the section heading and paragraphs (b), 
(c), (d), and (e) to read as follows:


Sec.  91.1609  Special Federal Aviation Regulation No. 114--Prohibition 
Against Certain Flights in the Damascus Flight Information Region (FIR) 
(OSTT).

* * * * *
    (b) Flight prohibition. Except as provided in paragraphs (c) and 
(d) of this section, no person described in paragraph (a) of this 
section may conduct flight operations in the Damascus Flight 
Information Region (FIR) (OSTT).
    (c) Permitted operations. This section does not prohibit persons 
described in paragraph (a) of this section from conducting flight 
operations in the Damascus Flight Information Region (FIR) (OSTT), 
provided that such flight operations are conducted under a contract, 
grant, or cooperative agreement with a department, agency, or 
instrumentality of the U.S. government (or under a subcontract between 
the prime contractor of the department, agency, or instrumentality and 
the person described in paragraph (a) of this section) with the 
approval of the FAA, or under an exemption issued by the FAA. The FAA 
will consider requests

[[Page 63415]]

for approval or exemption in a timely manner, with the order of 
preference being: First, for those operations in support of U.S. 
government-sponsored activities; second, for those operations in 
support of government-sponsored activities of a foreign country with 
the support of a U.S. government department, agency, or 
instrumentality; and third, for all other operations.
    (d) Emergency situations. In an emergency that requires immediate 
decision and action for the safety of the flight, the pilot in command 
of an aircraft may deviate from this section to the extent required by 
that emergency. Except for U.S. air carriers and commercial operators 
that are subject to the requirements of 14 CFR part 119, 121, 125, or 
135, each person who deviates from this section must, within 10 days of 
the deviation, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays, 
submit to the responsible Flight Standards office a complete report of 
the operations of the aircraft involved in the deviation, including a 
description of the deviation and the reasons for it.
    (e) Expiration. This SFAR will remain in effect until December 30, 
2020. The FAA may amend, rescind, or extend this SFAR, as necessary.
    Issued in Washington, DC, under the authority of 49 U.S.C. 106(f) 
and (g), 40101(d)(1), 40105(b)(1)(A), and 44701(a)(5), on November 30, 
2018.

Daniel K. Elwell,
Acting Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2018-26680 Filed 12-7-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-13-P