Regulatory

Lawsuit Demands FAA Develop Air Tour Management Plan for National Parks

By S.L. Fuller | October 6, 2017

File photo

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) has filed a lawsuit against the FAA, the organization said. The suit fights noise from helicopter tours flying around national parks in the U.S.

The six busiest national parks are the target of the lawsuit: Hawaii Volcanoes and Haleakalā in Hawaii; Glacier in Montana; Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee; Bryce Canyon in Utah; and Muir Woods National Monument in California. PEER wants the FAA to develop an air tour management plan within the next two years or to negotiate a voluntary plan between parks and tour operators. The organization claims that helicopter noise disturbs not only people, but also wildlife.

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PEER cites a congressional act that directed the FAA, in consultation with the U.S. Park Service, to establish an air tour management plan for national parks and tribal lands “whenever a person applies for authority to conduct a commercial air tour.” However, PEER said that the FAA has not yet established a single plan “and shows no signs of doing any in the future.” Instead, PEER said that the FAA has issued “interim” authorizations.

“Unless the FAA acts, air tour operators have no incentive to negotiate voluntary restrictions to minimize impacts on parks,” said PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Our lawsuit is meant to jumpstart a planning process that should have begun a generation ago.”

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