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AOPA advocacy exempts noncommercial GA from national park overflight rulesAOPA advocacy exempts noncommercial GA from national park overflight rules

Noncommercial general aviation pilots won't be affected by new rules governing air tour operators over national parks. That's because AOPA was part of the working group that developed the rules. The association successfully argued that transient general aviation aircraft do not cause a significant amount of noise or congestion over national parks. AOPA continues to encourage Part 91 GA pilots to "fly friendly" and overfly environmentally sensitive areas at 2,000 feet or more.

The FAA recently publicized the issuance of the final rule implementing the requirements of the National Parks Air Tour Management Plan of 2000. ( The rule was actually published in early November, and it goes into effect January 23.)

The rule will require air tour operators flying less than 5,000 feet agl above national parks or abutting tribal lands to obtain operating authority from the FAA. The FAA and each national park unit will develop an air tour management plan (ATMP) to "provide acceptable and effective measures to mitigate or prevent the significant adverse impacts, if any, of commercial air tour operations upon natural and cultural resources, visitor experiences, and tribal lands."

The regulation and an FAA advisory circular providing more detail are available online.

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