For Immediate Release

Release No. AOC 04-07
February 8, 2007
Contact: Les Dorr, Jr.
Phone: (202) 267-3883

WASHINGTON — Commercial air tours will be safer thanks to new regulations issued today by the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Air tour operators will now have to meet the safety requirements in the expanded National Air Tour Safety Standards of the Federal Aviation Regulations, including some operators who were not previously covered by those standards. The new regulations include requirements for enhanced passenger briefings before takeoff, life preservers and helicopter floats for certain overwater operations and helicopter performance plans. The rules apply as well to the growing air tour industry that offers tours of America’s national parks.

“These new standards will increase overall air tour safety, improve the FAA’s ability to track and monitor commercial air tour flights, and help us identify and address operational trends that could lead to accidents,” said FAA Administrator Marion C. Blakey.  

The new regulations maintain the FAA’s practice of promoting flights for charity. The allowance for use of private pilots continues, but the minimum total flight experience time of 200 hours increases to 500 hours. Dozens of exemptions that charities formerly operated under are replaced by conditions and limitations inserted directly into the regulations.

The new rules establish better oversight of the commercial air tour industry, especially flights previously conducted under the general operating and flight rules section of the regulations. In the past, the FAA has found it difficult to track where some commercial air tours were conducted and how many there were. The reporting requirements in these regulations will let the FAA develop a data base of these flights so the agency can ensure operators are complying with the applicable regulations.

On Friday, February 9, the entire National Air Tour Safety Standards final rule can be viewed at: