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Finally, FAA is sued for resisting required air tour plans

October 17, 2017

After seventeen years of obstructionism, the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) is being sued for effectively ignoring a law requiring the development of air tour management plans (ATMPs) for National Parks. The National Park Air Tour Management Act of 2000 requires the FAA and National Park Service (NPS) to prepare an air tour plan for any park with […]

National Park air tours restricted at sunrise and sunset for first time

July 22, 2015

It’s not much, but it’s a start.  The troubled FAA/NPS collaborative planning process has completed an actual final plan to manage air tours at a national park.  But don’t get too excited: it’s not a full-on Air Tour Management Plan, as was the goal for all national parks with sightseeing flights when the two agencies […]

Congressmen aim to derail Grand Canyon air tour rules

July 29, 2011

As regular readers will know, the National Park Service completed an epic planning process earlier this year when it released proposed rules governing air tours at Grand Canyon National Park.  After over two decades of discussion, including a failed attempt at coming to a consensus decision with all parties a few years back, NPS planners […]

Mt. Rainier air tour planning: a rare case of “not to late”

May 3, 2011

At most of the places where the National Park Service and FAA have commenced air tour management planning (ATMP), there is already a deeply entrenched local air tour economy, as well as a visitor expectation that they can take flight in order to see the beauty from above.  The Grand Canyon is of course the […]

Hawaii Volcanoes NP publishes draft air tour management alternatives

April 5, 2011

In what must be one of the slowest EIS processes on record, the National Park Service and the Federal Aviation Administration is moving…methodically…to develop a new air tour management plan (ATMP) for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  After being upgraded from an EA to an EIS in 2005, the joint planning process began work on the […]

Obama family visit grounds Grand Canyon air tours, as NPS forges ahead with new plan in wake of consensus group failure to agree

September 16, 2009

After eight years of struggling to bring conflicting interest groups together to support a consensus alternative for managing air tours at Grand Canyon National Park, an FAA-organized Grand Canyon Working Group has adjourned indefinitely.  The Working Group included NPS, FAA, tribal, environmental, and aviation industry representatives. At the Working Group’s last meeting, in late June, the GCWG […]

Death Valley in Queue for FAA Air Tour Management Planning

August 4, 2009

Death Valley has become the sixth National Park to initiate a formal Air Tour Management Plan process since the 2000 passage of legislation mandating such plans in National Parks with commercial helicopter or plane overflights.  It’s the first new plan to begin since 2004, when similar planning began at Lake Mead, Mt. Rushmore, and Badlands National […]

FAA spurns opportunity for quiet area protection in traffic pattern updates

June 30, 2015

A new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) effort to modernize air traffic flow around major cities is ignoring the chance to do slight re-routing that would minimize air traffic over dwindling areas of natural quiet.  The FAA is in the midst of a multi-year process to update the traffic patterns in and out of airports in 17 metropolitan areas.  Each “metroplex” […]

FAA adds insult to injury with new Grand Canyon flight permits

February 10, 2014

Eighteen months after Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Harry Reid (D-NV) joined forces to undermine the National Park Service’s Grand Canyon air tour management plan just before it was set to go into effect, the Federal Aviation Administration apparently feels that the discounted per-flight fee for quiet aircraft is not incentive enough to encourage the […]

McCain, Reid succeed in quest to stop Grand Canyon overflight rules

July 2, 2012

I guess the third time was the charm for John McCain in his relentless quest to undermine the National Park Service’s decades-long effort to slightly reduce aircraft overflight impacts in the Grand Canyon backcountry.  Since the NPS released its draft plan several months ago, McCain had crafted amendments to a couple of pieces of legislation […]

McCain amendment aims to undercut Grand Canyon noise reduction plan

February 17, 2011

Senator John McCain has introduced legislation that would derail the National Park Service’s recently-released compromise plan to reduce noise levels in the Grand Canyon.  McCain’s initiative, apparently included in an amendment to another bill (details are sketchy so far, with nothing on McCain’s website so far), would declare that keeping half of Grand Canyon National […]

NPS calls for sunrise/sunset no-fly times at Grand Canyon

February 3, 2011

The National Park Service has released its proposed air tour management rules for the Grand Canyon.  Key features of the plan include increased flight altitudes near North Rim overlooks, reducing flights in Marble Canyon, moving routes away from some key visitor use areas, and establishing an hour-long flight-free period for an hour after sunrise and […]

Will Senate swallow McCain’s bait on last-minute Grand Canyon overflight intervention?

March 22, 2010

UPDATE 3/25: In response to a quick wave of outrage on editorial pages and some Park Service lobbying, Senator McCain has withdrawn his proposed amendment.  It remains to be seen whether he will let the NPS EIS process set the final rules, or seek to have the Senate write rules if the process lags or […]

Denali Flight-seeing Guidelines End First Season

September 30, 2009

In April, a set of voluntary guidelines for air tours in Denali National Park was released, meant to minimize noise intrusions on backcountry hikers.  An Aircraft Overflights Advisory Council spent a bit over a year coming up with the proposals, which included asking pilots heading for the summit of Mt. McKinley/Denali to avoid two high-altitude […]

Crater Lake Eyed for Helicopter Tours

August 4, 2009

UPDATE 3/25/10: The Senate has passed legislation allowing the NPS to ban helicopter tours at Crater Lake without going through a lengthy inter-agency process with the FAA.  The measure still needs to be approved by a House-Senate conference committee. A request from an air tour operator to begin helicopter flights in Crater Lake National Park has […]