Air Tour Management Plan (ATMP)
The FAA is working diligently in cooperation with the National Park Service (NPS) to implement the National Park Air Tour Management Act of 2000, which was signed into law on April 5, 2000. The regulations codifying the National Parks Air Tour Management Act (NPATMA or "the Act") of 2000 can be found in Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 136 (PDF) (hereafter Part 136).
The Act requires operators wishing to conduct commercial air tours over national parks, or over tribal lands within or abutting national parks, to apply to the FAA for authority to conduct such tours. The Act further requires FAA, in cooperation with the National Park Service, to establish air tour management plans for parks or tribal lands for which applications are submitted.
The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 amended the Act to allow FAA and the National Park Service to enter into voluntary agreements with air tour operators in lieu of developing management plans. The 2012 amendments also exempt national parks with 50 or fewer tours annually from the management plan and voluntary agreement requirements.
Jan 11, 2024 - On December 21, 2023, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) issued an opinion responding to the agency’s request to review its proposed finding of no adverse effects for the ATMP at Bandelier National Monument. In accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. § 470 et seq.) and its implementing regulations at 36 C.F.R. Part 800, the agency has considered the ACHP’s opinion and has provided its response. The ACHP Opinion and FAA response are below:
New Air Tour Management Plan
Jan. 11, 2024 – The National Park Service (NPS) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have completed an Air Tour Management Plan for Haleakalā National Park. The plan provides for the continuation of air tours at reduced levels over the park and within a half-mile of its boundary to protect natural and cultural resources, wilderness, the integrity of Native Hawaiian sacred sites and ceremonial areas, and visitor experiences. The final documents can be found on the Final Air Tour Management Plan interactive map below. Additional information can be found at the NPS website for Haleakalā National Park.
Notification of Request for ACHP Review of Finding – Air Tour Management Plan for Bandelier National Monument
Nov 21, 2023 - In accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. § 470 et seq.) and its implementing regulations at 36 C.F.R. Part 800, the FAA has requested the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation’s (ACHP) review of the proposed finding of no adverse effect for the undertaking at Bandelier National Monument. The FAA is making this request in response to a consulting party’s written objection to the FAA’s proposed finding.
The FAA’s request to the ACHP, the written objections, and the agency’s related documentation are available for public inspection here:
- FAA letter to ACHP Requesting Review of Its Finding of No Adverse Effect
- Exhibit 1 – Consultation Initiation Letter and Responses
- Exhibit 2 – Undertaking APE Letter and Responses
- Exhibit 3 – Historic Property Identification Letter
- Exhibit 4 – Finding of Effect Letter and Concurrences
- Exhibit 5 – Objections to Finding of Effect letter and Responses
On February 14, 2019, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Hawaii Coalition Malama Pono filed a petition for writ of mandamus in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit seeking to have FAA and NPS complete air tour management plans or voluntary agreements at seven specified parks. On May 1, 2020, the Court granted the petition and ordered FAA and NPS to file a proposed plan within 120 days for bringing all twenty-three eligible parks into compliance with NPATMA within two years or to provide specific concrete reasons why it would take longer. The agencies were also required to submit quarterly updates on their progress.
The agencies submitted the proposed plan to the Court on August 31, 2020. The plan outlines the approach and steps the agencies will take to meet the Court order and comply with NPATMA.
On November 20, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit approved the agencies’ (FAA/NPS) proposed plan and schedule for completing ATMPs at the 23 parks. The court also approved the agencies’ schedule for progress updates to the Court with the first update required to be submitted on November 30, 2020, and subsequent progress updates at 90-day intervals thereafter.
- November 30, 2023 – FAA/NPS Progress Update
- August 31, 2023 – FAA/NPS Progress Update
- May 31, 2023 – FAA/NPS Progress Update
- February 28, 2023 – FAA/NPS Progress Update
- November 30, 2022 – FAA/NPS Progress Update
- August 31, 2022 – FAA/NPS Progress Update
- May 31, 2022 – FAA/NPS Progress Update
- February 28, 2022 — FAA/NPS Progress Update
- December 1, 2021 — FAA/NPS Progress Update
- September 1, 2021 — FAA/NPS Progress Update
- June 1, 2021 — FAA/NPS Progress Update
- March 1, 2021 — FAA/NPS Progress Update
- November 30, 2020 — FAA/NPS Progress Update
This website provides updated information regarding the continuing development and implementation of the National Parks Overflights Act of 1987 which requires the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Park Service (NPS) to work together to restore the natural quiet of the Grand Canyon National Park through the development of overflight plans.
1. What is the National Parks Air Tour Management Act, and what does it require?
The National Parks Air Tour Management Act, which Congress passed in 2000, governs commercial air tours over national parks, except Grand Canyon National Park, which is governed by separate legislation, and parks in Alaska. It requires that the FAA, in cooperation with the NPS, develop Air Tour Management Plans (ATMPs) or voluntary agreements for each park where commercial air tour operations occur or are proposed.
2. What is a commercial air tour? What about other aircraft that fly over the park?
A commercial air tour is any flight conducted for compensation or hire in a powered aircraft where the purpose of the flight is sightseeing over a national park or within ½ mile outside of the boundary of the park and is below 5,000' AGL (above ground level) and less than 1 mile laterally from any geographic feature within the park.
Air tours subject to regulation under the National Parks Air Tour Management Act do not include flights conducted for other purposes (e.g., commercial jets or military overflights), nor does it apply to air tours conducted over lands that are greater than ½ mile from the park boundary or public lands managed by agencies other than the National Park Service.
3. What is an Air Tour Management Plan, or ATMP, and what does it do?
The National Parks Air Tour Management Act defines an ATMP as a plan to develop 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.
4. What is a voluntary agreement, and what does it do?
As an alternative to an ATMP, the NPS and the FAA may enter into voluntary agreements with all commercial air tour operators (including new entrant commercial air tour operators and operators that have interim operating authority) that have applied to conduct commercial air tour operations over a national park. As the name implies, such an agreement is voluntary and signed by the FAA, the NPS, and the air tour operators at a specific park.
Like an ATMP, a voluntary agreement addresses the management issues necessary to protect park resources and visitor experience without compromising aviation safety or the air traffic control system. Voluntary agreements can establish conditions for air tours over a park, including routes and altitudes, number of flights, aircraft type , hours of operation, and reporting requirements. Unlike ATMPs, voluntary agreements do not require compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act or other environmental laws.
5. Why are some parks with air tours not required to have ATMPs or voluntary agreements?
The National Parks Air Tour Management Act exempts parks with 50 or fewer commercial air tour operations each year from the requirement to prepare an ATMP or voluntary agreement. Based on reports from air tour operators, 54 national parks for which operators hold Interim Operating Authority are currently exempt. The number of exempt parks may change from year to year based on data reported by air tour operators. National parks in Alaska are also exempted from the Act. Air tours over Grand Canyon National Park are subject to separate legislation.
6. Why are ATMPs being prepared for some parks with 50 flights or fewer?
While the National Parks Air Tour Management Act provides an exemption to the ATMP requirement for parks with 50 or fewer commercial air tour operations each year, the NPS may withdraw an exemption if the NPS determines that an ATMP or voluntary agreement is necessary to protect park resources and values or park visitor use and enjoyment. The NPS withdrew the exemption for Mount Rainier National Park, Death Valley National Park, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, and Muir Woods National Monument.
7. How do ATMPs protect natural and cultural resources and visitor experience?
ATMPs include conditions designed to protect natural and cultural resources and visitor experience. These conditions may include the number of authorized air tours, routes, altitude, aircraft type, day or time restrictions, and restrictions for particular events. Standoff distances can also be established for special status species or cultural and tribal resources. Each final ATMP identifies how the ATMP conditions protect natural and cultural resources and visitor experience for that park or parks.
8. How will ATMPs protect tribal lands, properties, ceremonies, or practices?
An ATMP can allow for restrictions for particular events, which are intended to prevent interruptions of Park events or tribal practices. The ATMP may include additional conditions as identified during consultations with Native American Tribes and Native Hawaiians, such as restrictions for particular days, seasons, or a complete prohibition.
9. Which applicable laws do NPS and FAA comply with when developing an ATMP or voluntary agreement?
The NPS and FAA comply with all applicable laws, including the National Parks Air Tour Management Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act. Additionally, the FAA reviews all ATMPs to ensure compliance with safety protocols. Park-specific information can be found in the ATMP Record of Decision – Consultation and Compliance.
10. Why are the FAA and the NPS completing ATMPs now?
On February 14, 2019, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and Hawai'i Coalition Malama Pono filed a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit requesting that the Court order the agencies to complete ATMPs for Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Haleakalā National Park, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Muir Woods National Monument, Glacier National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Bryce Canyon National Park.
On May 1, 2020, the Court granted the petition and ordered the agencies to submit a schedule for bringing all eligible parks (based on reported air tour data from 2018) into compliance with the National Parks Air Tour Management Act within two years or to show specific, concrete reasons why doing so will take longer.
11. Which parks have completed ATMPs or VAs, and which parks have ATMPs or VAs in progress?
As of January 2023, parks that have completed ATMPs are: Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Death Valley National Park, Glacier National Park, Golden Gate National Recreation Area/Muir Woods National Monument/Point Reyes National Seashore/San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, Natural Bridges National Monument, and Olympic National Park. As of February 2023, parks that have completed VAs are Governors Island National Monument/ Statue of Liberty National Monument. The agencies terminated the ATMP planning process for Everglades National Park in July 2022 because the National Parks Air Tour Management Act no longer required an ATMP or VA (87 Fed. Reg. 43,595).
As of February 2023, parks that have ATMPs or VAs in progress: Badlands National Park, Bandelier National Monument, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Haleakala National Park, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Lake Meade National Recreation Area, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, and Rainbow Bridge National Monument.
12. What happens to an operator’s Interim Operating Authority (IOA) after an ATMP is established?
According to the National Parks Air Tour Management Act, an operator’s IOA shall terminate 180 days after the date on which an air tour management plan is established for a park.
13. How will the number of commercial air tours be monitored?
The operator will submit to the FAA and the NPS semi-annual reports regarding the number of commercial air tours over the park or within ½ mile of their operational boundary. These reports will also include the required flight monitoring data and other information as the FAA, and the NPS may request or are detailed in the park’s ATMP or voluntary agreement.
14. What incentives will there be to use quiet technology?
If an ATMP authorizes commercial air tours, operators that have converted to quiet technology aircraft may request to be allowed to conduct air tours during expanded operating times or expanded operating areas. The incentives for each park will be included in its ATMP. If implementation of this incentive results in unanticipated effects on Park resources or visitor experience, further agency action may be required to ensure the protection of these resources and values.
15. How can I comment on the ATMPs that the FAA and NPS create for each park?
Written comments on draft ATMPs can be submitted on the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) System at https://parkplanning.nps.gov. The PEPC sites for the respective park ATMPs will indicate the timeframe for comment submission.
16. What happens after the public review period on a draft ATMP?
Agencies will consider comments received on the draft ATMP and continue consultations with other agencies and tribal governments, as necessary. A final ATMP documenting the project's outcomes (including comments received and consultations undertaken) will be developed with ultimate approval resting with the FAA and the NPS.
17. What are the consequences of violating an ATMP or voluntary agreement?
The NPS and the FAA are both responsible for the monitoring and oversight of an ATMP or voluntary agreement. If the NPS identifies instances of noncompliance, the NPS will report such findings to the appropriate FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO). The public may also report allegations of non-compliance with an ATMP or VA to the FSDO. The FSDO will investigate and respond to all written reports consistent with applicable FAA guidance.
FAA determination of non-compliance with an ATMP or VA may result in loss of authorization to conduct commercial air tours authorized by the plan or agreement. Any violation of an operator’s operations specifications shall be treated in accordance with FAA Order 2150.3, FAA Compliance and Enforcement Program.
18. How will the visitor experience for persons with disabilities be affected if an Air Tour Management Plan reduces or eliminates air tours?
Air tours are only one of many ways for a person with disabilities to experience a national park. If an air tour plan reduces or eliminates air tours, a person with disabilities would still be able to experience a national park. The National Park Service works to ensure that people with disabilities can participate in the same programs, activities, and employment opportunities available to those without disabilities in the most integrated setting possible. Alternative means of accessing facilities, programs, and services are provided when an accessible direct experience cannot be provided.
Accessibility solutions are developed in consultation with the disability community and various partners including NPS concessioners and commercial service operators and range from adaptive hiking trails and scenic overlooks to adaptive horse/donkey riding, adaptive river rafting, and many other forms of recreation that provide disabled visitors with a wide range of options for enjoying national parks.
The NPS has a team dedicated to breaking physical and programmatic barriers to make parks more inclusive for people with sensory, physical, and cognitive disabilities. The team includes regional accessibility coordinators who work to make sure that National Park Service staff have the tools and training necessary to provide accessible and inclusive outdoor recreation and interpretation opportunities for park visitors and employees alike. For more information visit: Plan Your Visit - Accessibility (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov).
The interactive map below shows final Air Tour Management Plans (ATMP) and Voluntary Agreements at national parks nationwide. Click the icons below or filter by state or park to view final ATMP, Environmental Assessment (EA), and Record of Decision (ROD) documents.
- Commercial Air Tour Reporting Form
- National Park Service ATMP website
- All draft and final air tour management planning documents can be found on the individual National Park’s website. Visit National Park Service - PEPC - Parks Search (nps.gov) to select a National Park for more information.