January 6, 2005
A group with interests as diverse as the southwestern landscape has been appointed to help shape the regulations for commercial sightseeing operations over the Grand Canyon.
As a member of the working group, AOPA will continue its efforts to preserve private pilots' freedom to fly over national parks and to allow small Part 91 sightseeing operations to continue.
Other members of the 19-person group include Indian tribes, environmental groups, and sightseeing operators. The group will provide input and solutions for the final overflights plan that calls for restoring the natural quiet - at least to a substantial degree - to the canyon by creating routes or corridors for commercial air tour operations that employ quiet aircraft technology.
The working group is a sub-group of the National Parks Overflight Advisory Group of which AOPA has been a member since Congress created it more than three years ago. Thanks to AOPA's advocacy efforts, members can still fly over national parks, despite pressure to ban such flights. And even though special regulations control the airspace over Grand Canyon National Park and adjoining tribal lands, AOPA obtained cutouts and access corridors for GA aircraft. AOPA's advocacy also led to the provision in the Air Tour Management Act allowing Part 91 operators to continue conducting limited sightseeing flights over national parks.
The working group's first meeting is scheduled for mid-July. A professional conflict management firm will preside. The group may be convened for up to three years.
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