AOPA is seeking to be a member of the working group that will help set new regulations for commercial sightseeing operations over the Grand Canyon. Through participation on this group, AOPA will continue to work to preserve private pilots' freedom to fly over national parks and to allow small Part 91 sightseeing operations to continue.
(Meanwhile, commercial sightseeing operators who fly over national parks and monuments, or over tribal lands, need to confirm the number of their operations with the FAA.)
AOPA has been a member of the National Parks Overflights Advisory Group since Congress created it more than three years ago. And because of that, AOPA members can still fly over national parks, even though there was strong pressure from some quarters to ban such flights.
AOPA successfully argued that small general aviation aircraft do not contribute significantly to the "noise pollution" in our natural wonders. Private aircraft are infrequent and transient travelers through that airspace, and GA pilots generally honor the advisory to maintain at least 2,000 feet altitude above environmentally sensitive areas.
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 Grand Canyon working group will be a sub-group of the National Parks Overflight Advisory Group. It will be charged with developing recommendations for a final overflight plan that provides for the substantial restoration of natural quiet and experience of the Grand Canyon National Park, including routes or corridors for commercial air tour operations that employ quiet aircraft technology, and for protection of public health and safety from adverse effects associated with aircraft overflights. The group will also participate in the development of aviation regulations necessary to implement the recommendations.
April 14, 2005