[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 23 (Wednesday, February 4, 2015)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 5918-5922]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-02193]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 91

[Docket No.: FAA-2000-7360; Amdt. No. 91-335]
RIN 2120-AK59


Removal of Special Federal Aviation Regulation No. 87--
Prohibition Against Certain Flights Within the Territory and Airspace 
of Ethiopia

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Immediately adopted final rule.

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SUMMARY: This action removes the prohibition against certain flights 
within the territory and airspace of Ethiopia contained in Special 
Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) No. 87 from the Code of Federal 
Regulations (CFR). The prohibition only applied to flight operations 
within the territory and airspace of Ethiopia north of 12 degrees north 
latitude conducted by United States (U.S.) air carriers or commercial 
operators; persons exercising the privileges of an airman certificate 
issued by the FAA, unless that person was engaged in the operation of a 
U.S.-registered aircraft for a foreign air carrier; and operators using 
an aircraft registered in the United States, except where the operator 
of such aircraft was a foreign air carrier. The FAA has now determined 
that the safety and security situation that prompted the above flight 
prohibition has significantly improved, and that it is safe for U.S. 
civil flights to be operated within the entire territory and airspace 
of Ethiopia, subject to the approval of and in accordance with the

[[Page 5919]]

conditions established by the appropriate authorities of Ethiopia.

DATES: This final rule is effective on February 4, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For technical questions concerning 
this action, contact Will Gonzalez, Air Transportation Division, Flight 
Standards Service, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence 
Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone 202-267-8166; email 
will.gonzalez@faa.gov.
    For legal questions concerning this action, contact Robert Frenzel, 
Office of the Chief Counsel, AGC-200, Federal Aviation Administration, 
800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone (202) 267-
7638; email robert.frenzel@faa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Good Cause for Immediate Adoption

    Title 5, United States Code (U.S.C.) Sec.  553(b)(3)(B) 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.'' In 
this instance, the FAA finds that notice and public comment to this 
immediately adopted final rule, as well as any delay in the effective 
date of this rule, are unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. 
This is a relieving rule; with publication of this final rule, persons 
described in paragraph 1 of SFAR No. 87,\1\ who have been prohibited 
from flying within the territory and airspace of Ethiopia north of 12 
degrees north latitude, will no longer be subject to that prohibition. 
The removal of this prohibition will allow such persons to operate 
anywhere in the territory and airspace of Ethiopia, subject to the 
approval of and in accordance with the conditions established by the 
appropriate authorities of Ethiopia. The FAA has determined that the 
safety and security situation which prompted the FAA to issue SFAR No. 
87 has significantly improved, and that it is safe for flight 
operations by persons described in paragraph 1 of SFAR No. 87 to 
resume, subject to the approval of and in accordance with the 
conditions established by the appropriate authorities of Ethiopia. 
Delaying the effective date of this action, which the FAA expects to be 
non-controversial, would unnecessarily limit the activities and 
economic opportunities of persons described in paragraph 1 of SFAR No. 
87, as well as persons to whom they provide service.
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    \1\ Paragraph 1 of SFAR No. 87 states:
    ``1. Applicability. This Special Federal Aviation Regulation 
(SFAR) No. 87 applies to all U.S. air carriers or commercial 
operators, all persons exercising the privileges of an airman 
certificate issued by the FAA unless that person is engaged in the 
operation of a U.S.-registered aircraft for a foreign air carrier, 
and all operators using aircraft registered in the United States 
except where the operator of such aircraft is a foreign air 
carrier.''
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Authority for This Rulemaking

    The FAA is responsible for the safety of flight in the United 
States and for the safety of U.S. civil operators, U.S.-registered 
civil aircraft, and U.S.-certificated airmen throughout the world. The 
FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety is found in title 49, 
U.S. Code. Subtitle I, section 106(f) and (g), describe the authority 
of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII, 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 
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 the Administrator finds necessary for safety in air commerce 
and national security. This regulation is within the scope of that 
authority, because it removes the prohibition on flight operations in 
the territory and airspace of Ethiopia north of 12 degrees north 
latitude by persons described in paragraph 1 of SFAR No. 87 on the 
basis of the changed safety and security situation, thereby allowing 
such persons to operate anywhere in the territory and airspace of 
Ethiopia, subject to the approval of and in accordance with the 
conditions established by the appropriate authorities of Ethiopia.

I. Overview of Immediately Adopted Final Rule

    This action removes SFAR No. 87 from the CFR. SFAR No. 87 
prohibited flight operations within the territory and airspace of 
Ethiopia north of 12 degrees north latitude by the persons described in 
paragraph 1 of the rule. SFAR No. 87 imposed no restrictions on 
operations in the territory and airspace of Ethiopia south of 12 
degrees north latitude. The FAA has determined that the safety and 
security situation that prompted the FAA to issue SFAR No. 87 has 
significantly improved, and that it is safe for flights by persons 
described in paragraph 1 of the rule to resume, subject to the approval 
of and in accordance with the conditions established by the appropriate 
authorities of Ethiopia. The FAA finds this action necessary to allow 
persons described in paragraph 1 of SFAR No. 87 to perform flight 
operations within the territory and airspace of Ethiopia north of 12 
degrees north latitude.

II. Background

    The FAA issued SFAR No. 87 on May 12, 2000 (published May 16, 2000, 
at 65 FR 31214), due to concerns regarding potential hazards to U.S. 
civil flight operations within the territory and airspace of Ethiopia 
north of 12 degrees north latitude. In 1998, a military conflict had 
erupted between Ethiopia and Eritrea over the exact demarcation of the 
border between the two countries. On April 30, 2000, peace talks 
between Ethiopia and Eritrea failed, and the border dispute again 
escalated to the point where open hostilities began. Armed forces of 
both countries, which included modern surface-to-air missile systems 
and interceptor aircraft capable of engaging aircraft at cruising 
altitudes, were engaged in hostilities near their common border. The 
FAA was concerned that civil aircraft operating in the region could be 
threatened by the conflict.
    Even in the event of a cease-fire, the FAA was concerned that the 
heightened state of readiness maintained by the military forces of 
Ethiopia posed an imminent threat to civil aircraft operations in the 
area. Prior to their May 2000 mobilization, Ethiopian air defense 
forces had maintained an already high state of readiness during a prior 
cease-fire that threatened civil aircraft operating in the northern 
portion of Ethiopia. The August 29, 1999, downing by Ethiopian military 
forces of a U.S.-registered Learjet operating in the area, which they 
had mistaken for an Eritrean reconnaissance aircraft, was evidence of 
the seriousness of the threat. When it issued SFAR No. 87, the FAA 
observed that Ethiopia had issued temporary Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) 
closing certain routes in the Addis Ababa Flight Information Region. 
However, the FAA noted that neither the Ethiopian civil aviation 
authority nor the Ethiopian military had issued formal warnings by 
NOTAM, in the Ethiopian Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP), or 
in

[[Page 5920]]

some other forum, of the potentially catastrophic consequences of 
flying on routes temporarily removed from service. Further, the 
Government of Ethiopia had rejected the FAA's recommendation to 
establish a true ``no fly'' or ``danger'' zone. The FAA also could not 
assure that an adequate level of coordination existed between civil air 
traffic authorities and air defense commanders for civil aircraft 
overflight, including military rules of engagement, in the event an 
aircraft strayed from its assigned route of flight. Any lack of 
coordination could have put aircraft operating over northern Ethiopia 
at risk of being misidentified by military forces as a threat. Finally, 
there was no assurance that Ethiopia would follow international 
standards and recommended practices for the interception and 
identification of unidentified aircraft in its airspace.
    The operational environment for U.S. civil aviation in the area of 
Ethiopia to which SFAR No. 87 applied has changed significantly since 
May 2000, which is when the last major military conflict between 
Ethiopia and Eritrea took place. The following month, the two countries 
signed a cessation of hostilities agreement. While there are continuing 
tensions which have led to periodic exchanges of military weapons fire 
across the Ethiopia-Eritrea border, there have been no further air 
defense engagements against aircraft. In addition, the Ethiopian 
government closed certain air routes that cross the border between 
Ethiopia and Eritrea, and restricted other routes from use by 
overflying international flights. Ethiopia also closed a portion of an 
air route running near the border within Ethiopian airspace.
    On September 20, 2013, the FAA received a petition for exemption 
from SFAR No. 87 from Mente, LLC (FAA Docket No. FAA-2013-0839). The 
FAA requested additional information, and Mente submitted it on 
November 25, 2013. Mente voluntarily submitted further information on 
May 20, 2014. The petition requested that the FAA allow Mente to 
operate flights within the territory and airspace of Ethiopia north of 
12 degrees north latitude in support of the philanthropic activities of 
a U.S. charitable foundation. In part due to the FAA's recognition of 
the changed operational environment for U.S. civil aviation in northern 
Ethiopia, on July 8, 2014, the FAA granted Mente's petition for 
exemption.
    On the basis of the above information, the FAA believes that the 
persons described in paragraph 1 of SFAR No. 87 may now operate safely 
in the territory and airspace of Ethiopia north of 12 degrees north 
latitude, subject to the approval of and in accordance with the 
conditions established by the appropriate authorities of Ethiopia. By 
this final rule, SFAR No. 87 is removed from title 14 of the Code of 
Federal Regulations, part 91.

III. Regulatory Evaluation, Regulatory Flexibility Determination, 
International Trade Impact Assessment, and Unfunded Mandates Assessment

    Changes to Federal regulations must undergo several economic 
analyses. First, Executive Order 12866 and Executive Order 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. 601 et seq., requires agencies to 
analyze the economic impact of regulatory changes on small entities. 
Third, the Trade Agreements Act of 1979 (Pub. L. 96-39) (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), 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.
    Department of Transportation Order (DOT) 2100.5 prescribes policies 
and procedures for simplification, analysis, and review of regulations. 
If the expected cost impact is so minimal that a proposed or final rule 
does not warrant a full evaluation, this order permits a statement to 
that effect and the basis for it to be included in the preamble if a 
full regulatory evaluation of the cost and benefits is not prepared. 
Such a determination has been made for this final rule. The reasoning 
for this determination follows:
    Flight operations in the territory and airspace of Ethiopia north 
of 12 degrees north latitude by persons described in paragraph 1 of 
SFAR No. 87 were prohibited because of the threat posed to U.S. civil 
aviation by the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, as well as the 
heightened state of readiness maintained by the military forces of 
Ethiopia and the lack of adequate public warnings to civil aviation by 
the Government of Ethiopia. As described in the Background section of 
this final rule, the operational environment for U.S. civil aviation in 
Ethiopia north of 12 degrees north latitude has changed significantly 
since May 2000, and the FAA believes that persons previously prohibited 
from operating in that area may now operate safely there, subject to 
the approval of and in accordance with the conditions established by 
the appropriate authorities of Ethiopia. The removal of SFAR No. 87 
will eliminate the need to fly around the entire area of northern 
Ethiopia to which the rule applied and to avoid operations in that area 
even where such operations are permitted by the appropriate authorities 
of Ethiopia. Accordingly, this rule is cost relieving and, therefore, 
cost beneficial.
    In conducting these analyses, FAA has determined that this final 
rule is not a ``significant regulatory action,'' as defined in section 
3(f) of Executive Order 12866. The rule is also not ``significant'' as 
defined in DOT's Regulatory Policies and Procedures. The final rule 
will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of 
small entities, will not create unnecessary obstacles to international 
trade and will not impose an unfunded mandate on state, local, or 
tribal governments, or on the private sector.

A. Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Pub. L. 96-354, ``RFA''), 5 
U.S.C. 601 et seq., establishes ``as a principle of regulatory issuance 
that agencies shall endeavor, consistent with the objectives of the 
rule and of applicable statutes, to fit regulatory and informational 
requirements to the scale of the businesses, organizations, and 
governmental jurisdictions subject to regulation. To achieve this 
principle, agencies are required to solicit and consider flexible 
regulatory proposals and to explain the rationale for their actions to 
assure that such proposals are given serious consideration.'' The RFA 
covers a wide-range of small entities, including small businesses, not-
for-profit organizations, and small governmental jurisdictions.
    Agencies must perform a review to determine whether a rule will 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. If the agency determines that it will, the agency must 
prepare a regulatory

[[Page 5921]]

flexibility analysis as described in the RFA.
    However, if an agency determines that a rule is not expected to 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities, Sec.  605(b) of the RFA provides that the head of the agency 
may so certify and a regulatory flexibility analysis is not required. 
The certification must include a statement providing the factual basis 
for this determination, and the reasoning should be clear.
    This rule is cost relieving because it allows more direct flights, 
which reduces fuel costs. Therefore, as provided in Sec.  605(b), the 
head of the FAA certifies that this rulemaking will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

B. International Trade Impact Assessment

    The Trade Agreements Act of 1979 (Pub. L. 96-39, 19 U.S.C. Chapter 
13), as amended, 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 it will remove a prohibition on flight operations 
within the territory and airspace of Ethiopia north of 12 degrees north 
latitude. This action does not impose any new regulatory requirements. 
Therefore, the rule creates no obstacles to the foreign commerce of the 
United States and is in compliance with the Trade Agreements Act.

C. 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 $151.0 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.

D. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-13, 44 U.S.C. 3501 
et seq.) 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 immediately adopted final rule.

E. International Compatibility and Cooperation

    In keeping with U.S. obligations under the Convention on 
International Civil Aviation (the ``Chicago Convention''), it is FAA 
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 proposed regulation.

F. Environmental Analysis

    FAA Order 1050.1E identifies FAA actions that are categorically 
excluded from preparation of an environmental assessment or 
environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy 
Act (``NEPA'') (Pub. L. 91-190, 42 U.S.C. Chapter 55) in the absence of 
extraordinary circumstances. The FAA has reviewed the removal of SFAR 
No. 87 and determined that this action is categorically excluded from 
further environmental review according to FAA Order 1050.1E, 
``Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures,'' paragraph 312(f). 
The FAA has examined possible extraordinary circumstances and 
determined that no such circumstances exist. After careful and thorough 
consideration of the proposed action, the FAA finds that the proposed 
Federal action does not require preparation of an EA or EIS in 
accordance with the requirements of NEPA, Council on Environmental 
Quality regulations, and FAA Order 1050.1E.

IV. Executive Order Determinations

A. Executive Order 13132, Federalism

    The FAA has analyzed this immediately adopted final rule under the 
principles and criteria of Executive Order 13132, Federalism. The 
agency has determined that this action will 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, does not have Federalism implications.

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

    The FAA analyzed this immediately adopted final rule under 
Executive Order 13211, Actions Concerning Regulations that 
Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use (May 18, 
2001). The agency has determined that this rule is not a ``significant 
energy action'' under the executive order, and it is not 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.

V. How To Obtain Additional Information

A. Rulemaking Documents

    An electronic copy of a rulemaking document may be obtained by 
using the Internet--
    1. Search the Federal Document Management System (FDMS) Portal 
(http://www.regulations.gov);
    2. Visit the FAA's Regulations and Policies Web page at http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies or
    3. Access the Government Printing Office's Web page at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/.
    Copies may also be obtained by sending a request (identified by 
notice, 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) 267-9680.

B. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 
(SBREFA) (Pub. L. 104-121) (set forth as

[[Page 5922]]

a note to 5 U.S.C. 601), as amended, requires the 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 person listed under the For Further Information Contact section 
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, Ethiopia.

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 is amended to read as follows:

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 106(f), 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, articles 12 and 29 of the 
Convention on International Civil Aviation (61 Stat. 1180), (126 
Stat. 11).

Special Federal Aviation Regulation No. 87--[Removed]

0
2. Remove SFAR No. 87 from part 91.

    Issued under authority provided by 49 U.S.C. 106(f), 40101(d)(1), 
40105(b)(1)(A), and 44701(a)(5), in Washington, DC, on January 27, 
2015.

Michael P. Huerta,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2015-02193 Filed 2-3-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-13-P