Section 805 of the National Parks Air Tour Management Act of 2000 (the Act) required that within one year after the enactment of the Act, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Director of the National Park Service (NPS) will jointly establish an advisory group to provide continuing advice and counsel with respect to commercial air tour operations over and near national parks. Accordingly, on April 5, 2001, the FAA and the NPS jointly established the National Parks Overflights Advisory Group (NPOAG). On October 10, 2003, the FAA Administrator signed FAA Order 1110.138, on January 20, 2006, this order was amended and became FAA Order No. 1110.138A (PDF).
The NPOAG currently includes the following ten members with their respective 3-year membership terms (PDF):
Representative of General Aviation
- Melissa Rudinger, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Representatives of Commercial Air Tour Operators
- Eric Lincoln, Air Tour Operator Representative
- Matt Zuccaro, Helicopter Association International
- Alan Stephen, Fixed-Wing Air Tour Operator Representative
Representatives of Environmental Concerns
- John Eastman
- Rob Smith, National Parks Conservation Association
- Dick Hingson, Sierra Club
- Les Blomberg
Representatives of Indian Tribes
- Carl Slater, Navajo Nation
Additionally, the group includes the FAA Administrator and the NPS Director (or their designees) serving as ex officio members and co-chairpersons. The designees are:
- Keith Lusk, Program Manager, Western-Pacific Region, FAA
- Vicki Ward, Overflights Program Manager, Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division, NPS
The Act specifies that the FAA representative and the NPS representative will serve alternating one-year terms as chairperson of the NPOAG, with the FAA representative serving initially. The FAA will chair the advisory group for all even calendar years, and the NPS will chair the advisory group for all odd calendar years.
The NPOAG has meetings one to three times annually, with more frequent meetings as required by air tour management plan (ATMP) schedules. Meetings of the NPOAG are open to the public. Meeting protocol has been established in a NPOAG Task Statement and Administrative Addendum to the Task Statement. Non-members attending NPOAG meetings are given appropriate opportunities to express opinions on issues and/or offer expertise critical to the discussions taking place. The date, location, and times of each NPOAG meeting are announced in the Federal Register, and the minutes of each meeting are posted on the internet.
The NPOAG provides advice, information, and recommendations to the FAA Administrator and NPS Director, on topics including:
- the implementation of the Act;
- commonly accepted quiet aircraft technology for use in commercial air tour operations over a national park or tribal lands, which will receive preferential treatment in a given ATMP;
- other measures that might be taken to accommodate the interests of visitors to national parks; and
- at the request of the FAA Administrator and NPS Director, safety, environmental, and other issues related to commercial air tour operations over a national park or tribal lands.