Administrative Overflights Monitoring

By Britta Schroeder (last updated in 2015)
a small plane flies over mountains

NPS Photo / Jay Elhard

During the year 2014, administrative aircraft passing through Denali National Park and Preserve airspace were tracked spatially. This was the third year of monitoring and evaluated the amount of air traffic generated by park missions, as required in the Director’s Order on Soundscape Preservation and Noise Management. This project also contributed to the monitoring efforts called for within the 2006 Backcountry Management Plan. Monitoring also documents adherence to the Best Management Practices as established by the Federal Advisory Committee on Denali Overflights.

The study area consisted of airspace within the boundaries of Denali National Park and Preserve. Based on noise propagation studies done previously, a thirteen kilometer buffer was created around the park for inclusion within the park soundscape analysis. The Federal Advisory Committee’s Best Management Practices avoidance zone was also included for further analysis. Flights tracks were documented using GPS flight-following data to assess where and what types of flights were occurring in and around the park.

Of the 432 administrative flights in park airspace during 2014, the majority supported mountain operations and fees (173 flights). Over half (59%) of the flights were conducted by helicopter. Less than 6% of those flights took place in the park avoidance zone, and of those flights, most were associated with wildlife management. All totaled, administrative flights spent roughly 71% of the flight hours within the park soundscape.