Renewing Your Practice Box

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For the past few years, there has been a quiet and important battle being waged between government agencies regarding the issuance of permission to operate practice aerobatic boxes. On one side, there are a host of agencies, led by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that have been attempting to claim jurisdiction on noise pollution-related issues. On the other side is the FAA, working hard on our collective behalf to ensure that air show and aerobatic competition pilots continue to have the airspace they need to practice low-level aerobatics. 

Not recognizing (or, perhaps, concerned with) the importance and value of practice aerobatic boxes, the EPA had proposed that practice box operators comply with a number of complicated rules and procedures, many of which were completely irrelevant to the day-to-day operation of a practice box and would have involved as many as a dozen different government agencies in the process of operating a practice box. As initially proposed by EPA, the continued operation of a practice aerobatic box in the United States would have required many hours of research and paperwork and a great deal of expense. 

Fortunately, the FAA has largely prevailed in this behind the scenes bureaucratic battle. ICAS members seeking to apply for or renew their practice box will be asked to provide “Environmental Information Documentation” (EID). The EID is a worksheet that the FAA has developed to request information from pilots that will help them complete the environmental impact assessment that resulted from its compromise with EPA. The form itself says, “Completion of the EID is not a mandatory requirement to apply for aerobatic practice area approval; however, it will expedite the FAA’s assessment of environmental impacts within the proposed practice area.”  What this means to pilots applying for a practice area is that they may complete the EID information on their own. The burden of completing the environmental assessment is on the FAA, but if pilots provide the information requested on the EID, the process of approving or renewing the practice box will likely go faster and more smoothly. 

Although most pilots who have been involved in this new process find it to be far less time-consuming and cumbersome than they originally expected, it is a new requirement that will take time. The safe thing to do is to initiate the process yourself rather than wait to be contacted by the FAA.  

If you have any questions or concerns about your aerobatic practice box, please call the ICAS Director of Operations, Dan Hollowell at (703) 779-8510 or via email at Hollowell@airshows.aero.

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ICAS
The International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) is a trade association dedicated to building and sustaining a vibrant air show industry to support its membership. To achieve this goal, ICAS demands its members operate their air show business at only the highest levels of safety, professionalism, and integrity.