Policy is a vital part of Aviation operations. Collaboration at the interagency level on policy provides consistency across agency boundaries to enhance safety.
Aviation Laws, Regulations, and Guidelines
NPS aviation operations must be conducted in accordance with numerous laws, regulations, policies, and guidelines. Congress has assigned the FAA as the primary agency with aviation regulatory authority. Department of Interior (DOI) has assigned primary aviation responsibilities to NBC-Aviation Management Directorate (AMD) who works in collaboration with the NPS. NPS complies with the aviation policy contained in Departmental Manuals (DM) 350-354 and has adopted other interagency policies and guidelines that provide more specific direction for the use of aviation resources.
To further refine aviations, operations the Service follows its own internal policies outlined in DO-60 and RM-60. Adherence to these policies and guidelines reflect the Service’s commitment to employee and visitor safety and efficiency.
Parts 350 through 354 of the Departmental Manual establish management responsibilities, policies and procedures for the utilization and operation of aircraft within the Department of the Interior (DOI). These chapters for Aviation Management can be found at the Electronic Library of Interior Policies.
The purpose of this Director’s Order and its companion reference manual, RM-60, is to provide park managers the direction they need to conduct a legal, safe, and cost effective aviation program, and to minimize adverse impacts that National Park Service (NPS) aviation activities may impose on park resources and visitor enjoyment.
Intended to provide detailed guidance to NPS personnel engaged in aviation management activities. This document contains templates for Regional Aviation Plans, Park Aviation plans and Project Aviation Safety Plans. More detailed information can be found by going to Aviation Plans.
Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations states, references or supplements policy for the Bureau of Land Management, USDA Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service fire and fire aviation management operations. Agency-specific exceptions are identified in the text.
How is policy developed?
Well that is a great question! All too often policy evolves in response to an accident, though writing policy in response to tears and blood is a poor way to do business. Policy written this way often results in the simply described “knee jerk reaction” to an event applying a broad stroke that overreaches and effects good operations and good people in unintended ways.
A better, safer and generally more cost effective way to develop policy that guides, but does not impede or suffocate good smooth flowing operations is through a proactive and deliberate approach. Many groups within the Department of Interior and the respective bureaus such as the NPS routinely gather together to examine current policies, revise or when needed develop new policies for the DOI, NPS and the Interagency aviation community. Some examples of these groups are:
The Committee is established to serve as a body of aviation experts, assisting NWCG with realizing opportunities to enhance safety, effectiveness, and efficiency in aviation related operations, procedures, programs and coordination.
The ABOD is comprised of one member from each DOI Bureau and DOI Aviation Management. They provide executive level involvement in the formulation of policy and management aspects of aviation activities within the Department of Interior.
National Aviation Advisory Group (NAAG)
A group comprised of NPS subject matter experts provide input to the National Park Service Associate Director, Visitor and Resource Protection, regarding aviation policy at the Departmental and bureau level, who also develop and implement the Aviation Strategic Plan and provide an avenue to achieve standardization for NPS aviation operations and management.