National park air tours

Noise concerns prompted Congress to pass the National Parks Air Tour Management Act of 2000, PL 106-181, title VIII, 114 Stat. 185 (pdf, 452KB, 137p., from GPO), to regulate air tours over national parks. The Act requires the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Park Service to formulate air tour management plans (ATMPs) for parks where air tour operators apply to conduct tours. In a study released Jan. 27, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that six years after the Act's passage, no ATMPs have been completed.

According to GAO, in January 2003 FAA and the Park Service began developing ATMPs for nine parks, the first six of which were in Hawaii: Haleakala and Hawaii Volcanoes National Parks; Kalaupapa, Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, and Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Parks; and Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site. In July 2005 the latter three were removed from the ATMP process because air tour operators withdrew their applications for those parks and "instead agreed to fly at least one half-mile outside" the parks.

Among GAO's recommendations for more effective implementation of the Act are to give FAA and the Park Service greater flexibility in determining which parks require ATMPs and that FAA improve enforcement of the Act.

National Parks Air Tour Management Act: More Flexibility and Better Enforcement Needed, GAO-06-263
     Full report (pdf, 980KB, 69p.)
     Highlights (pdf, 76KB, 1p.)

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