Air Tour Management Plan

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.

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What's New With the Air Tour Management Plan (ATMP) Program — November 4, 2022

On Oct. 6, 2022, 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 Great Smokey Mountains National Park.  The agency has considered the ACHP’s opinion and has provided its response.  The ACHP opinion and agency response are posted further below (see Exhibit 8).

The FAA and NPS have developed a draft voluntary agreement for Statue of Liberty National Monument and Governors Island National Monument. It is posted at the following website for public review for the next 30 days.

The FAA and NPS have also completed the air tour management plans (ATMPs) for a number of parks. You can find the respective final ATMPs and associated environmental documents at the NPS Planning, Environment & Public Comment (PEPC) websites below. The Record of Decisions (RODs) for these ATMPs, and the dates they were posted, are provided below as well:

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 the proposed finding of no adverse effect for the undertaking at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The FAA is making this request in response to the Tennessee State Historic Preservation Officer’s written objection to the FAA’s proposed finding. The FAA’s request to the ACHP, the Tennessee State Historic Preservation Officer’s written objection, and the agency’s related documentation are available for public inspection here:

The FAA and NPS invite public and stakeholder input on the potential alternatives for the Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore National Memorial Air Tour Management Plans.  Potential alternatives for each of the parks describe conditions for conducting commercial air tour operations over the Park, including routes, altitudes, time-of-day restrictions, restrictions for particular events, maximum numbers of flights, or other provisions. The potential alternatives considered several factors that are described in a newsletter.

Comments will be accepted through October 6, 2022.  You can view the park newsletters via the following web sites:

The FAA and NPS held a meeting of the National Parks Overflights Advisory Group (NPOAG) June 22-23, 2022 in Fort Collins, CO. Please see the Federal Register notice for more details on the meeting.

The FAA and NPS invited public and stakeholder input on the potential alternatives for the Haleakalā National Park Air Tour Management Plan and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Environmental Assessments. Potential alternatives for each of the parks described conditions for conducting commercial air tour operations over the Park, including routes, altitudes, time-of-day restrictions, restrictions for particular events, maximum numbers of flights, or other provisions. The potential alternatives considered several factors that are described in a newsletter.

Comments were accepted as part of a National Environmental Policy Act public scoping process and were received by April 1, 2022 at 8:00 PM HST. 

You can view the park newsletters via the following web sites:

In August, September, and October 2021, the FAA and NPS published draft air tour management plans for 15 national parks and monuments. Virtual public meetings were held for each draft plan. The comment periods are now closed.

The FAA and NPS are currently working to establish ATMPs at 24 parks. The draft plans and notices of public meetings for the remaining nine parks will be published in the Federal Register when available.

For more information see these Frequently Asked Questions (PDF).

Other Air Tour Management Plan Activities

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Park Service (NPS) continue working together to implement the National Parks Air Tour Management Act (NPATMA).

On April 28, May 4, and May 6, 2021, FAA and NPS held a webinar briefing providing background information on the ATMP process and the requirements of NPATMA. You can view the briefing slides (PDF) to the State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs), Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPOs), and interested tribes.

Court Order — Background:

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 (PDF) 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.

Court Order — Progress Updates:

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.