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 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 – January 4, 2021
In a Federal Register notice published December 18, 2020, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Park Service (NPS) announced the next meeting of the National Parks Overflight Advisory Group (NPOAG). The meeting will be held on January 22, 2021 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Pacific time; it will be conducted virtually and will be open to the public. More information is provided in the notice. How to access the NPOAG meeting will be published on this webpage approximately one week before the meeting.
During the NPOAG meeting, FAA cited a Federal Register notice about FAA noise research and policy efforts. You can also view the proceedings of the January 22, 2021 meeting.
AIR TOUR MANAGEMENT PLANS
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Park Service (NPS) continue working together to implement the National Parks Air Tour Management Act (NPATMA).
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 the FAA and the NPS complete air tour management plans or voluntary agreements at seven specified parks. On May 1, 2020, the Court granted the petition and ordered the FAA and the 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. For more information see these Frequently Asked Questions (PDF).
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.