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) of 2000 can be found in Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 136 (PDF) (hereafter Part 136).
The National Parks Air Tours Management Act (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 the 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.
What's New With the Air Tour Management Plan (ATMP) Program – September 30, 2019
AIR TOUR MANAGEMENT PLANS
As announced on August 9, 2019, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Park Service (NPS) will establish Voluntary Agreements (VAs) or Air Tour Management Plans (ATMPs) for the following park units in the near term: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Mount Rainier National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Rainbow Bridge National Monument, and Death Valley National Park.
The agencies have developed an Implementation Plan & Schedule (PDF) identifying the key milestones for each of the 7 park agreements or plans that will be prepared over the next two and a half years. The Implementation Plan & Schedule document also addresses some key questions on the upcoming activities as well as the process itself and includes a generalized flow chart for the VA and ATMP processes and their typical timelines.
The agencies have agreed to review and update the schedule, as appropriate, with a goal of identifying opportunities to accelerate the completion and finalization of voluntary agreements or ATMPs.
In an September 19, 2019 Federal Register notice, the FAA and NPS announced the selection of an individual to represent commercial air tour operator interests on the National Parks Oversight Advisory Group (NPOAG) as well as an individual to represent environmental concerns. The individuals selected were Matt Zuccaro from the Helicopter Association International and Robert Randall from the National Parks Conservation Association, respectively. The notice also identified a current opening representing Native American concerns. Individuals interested in the opening to represent Native American concerns should apply by October 31, 2019, additional details are provided in the notice.
In a June 3, 2019 Federal Register notice, the FAA and NPS announced one current and two future opening on the NPOAG. These openings are for a current seat representing Native American concerns, and two upcoming openings to represent commercial air tour and environmental interests, respectively. Individuals interested in these openings should apply by July 5, 2019, additional details are provided in the notice
In an April 5, 2019 Federal Register notice, the FAA and NPS provided a notice of an upcoming meeting of the National Parks Overflight Advisory Group (NPOAG). The meeting will be held in the Director's conference room of the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center, 1 Teton Park Road, Moose, WY, 80312. The meeting will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on May 14 and from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on May 15. More details on the meeting are provided in the notice.