Environmentalists may target GA again

February 16, 2006

Environmentalists may target GA again
Members need to speak up about Grand Canyon overflights

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The federal government is again looking at the issue of noise over Grand Canyon National Park. The FAA and the National Park Service have opened another public comment period as they work to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) on their proposals to restore "natural quiet" to one of the world's natural wonders.

"The FAA and NPS will offer three 'public participation opportunities' next week, and it's important that GA pilots make their voices heard," said Heidi Williams, AOPA director of air traffic services. "Some in the environmental community are already making a lot of noise about how restricting general aviation flights would allegedly help restore quiet."

AOPA doesn't agree, of course. The association has successfully argued so far that transient GA flights have a minimal, almost unnoticeable impact on environmental quality. Private general aviation accounts for less than three percent of air traffic over the park, and GA is already limited by Special Federal Aviation Regulations (SFARs) to fly at specified altitudes and through specific corridors over the canyon.

AOPA has been a member of the National Parks Overflight Advisory Group ever since Congress created it more than four 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'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 public meetings are scheduled for 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in:

Phoenix - February 21
Glendale Community College
6000 W. Olive Avenue
Glendale, Arizona

Flagstaff - February 22
Museum of Northern Arizona
3101 N. Ft. Valley Rd.
Flagstaff, Arizona

Las Vegas - February 23
Henderson Convention Center
200 Water Street
Henderson, Nevada

Written comments may be submitted no later than April 27, 2006. Address comments to:

Docket Management System
Doc No. FAA-2005-23402
U.S. Department of Transportation, Room Plaza 401
400 Seventh Street, SW
Washington, DC 20590-0001

Updated: February 17, 2006, 3:29 p.m. EST