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 – September 1, 2021
On September 1, 2021, the FAA and NPS published the draft air tour management plan (ATMP) notice of availability and public meetings announcement in the Federal Register.
Public comment periods are open for the proposed ATMPs at Bandelier National Monument, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Arches National Park, Glacier National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Natural Bridges National Monument and Bryce Canyon National Park. Comments must be received on or before 30 days from this notice through the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment System (PEPC) website. Each park's website link is below:
- Bandelier National Monument
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Arches National Park
- Glacier National Park
- Canyonlands National Park
- Natural Bridges National Monument
- Bryce Canyon National Park
Public meetings will be held at the following dates and times:
- Wednesday, September 15, 2021 (4:30-6:00 p.m. MT) – Bandelier National Monument
- Thursday, September 16, 2021 (4:30-6:00 p.m. ET) – Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Monday, September 20, 2021 (4:30-6:00 p.m. MT) – Arches National Park
- Tuesday, September 21, 2021 (4:30-6:00 p.m. MT) – Glacier National Park
- Wednesday, September 22, 2021 (4:30-6:00 p.m. MT) – Canyonlands National Park
- Thursday, September 23, 2021 (4:30-6:00 p.m. MT) – Natural Bridges National Monument
- Monday, September 27, 2021 (2:30-4:00 p.m. MT) – Bryce Canyon National Park
For more information see these Frequently Asked Questions (PDF).
Previous Draft Air Tour Management Plans
On July 29, 2021, the FAA and NPS published the draft air tour management plan (ATMP) notice of availability and public meetings announcement in the Federal Register for Mount Rainier National Park, Death Valley National Park, Everglades National Park, and Olympic National Park. Comments closed on August 28, 2021.
- Mount Rainer National Park
- Death Valley National Park
- Everglades National Park
- Olympic National Park
You can view recordings of the public meetings held August 16, 17, 19 and 25.
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).
On April 28, May 4, and May 6, 2021, the 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 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.
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.