Air Tour Management

Tourists experience the wonder of Grand Canyon National Park from the vantage of a helicopter.
Tourists experience the wonder of Grand Canyon NP from the vantage of a helicopter. NPS photo

The Overflights Program collaborates with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Park Service units, and air tour operators to develop air tour management agreements. The agreements are designed to protect park resources and visitor use without compromising aviation safety or the nation's air traffic control system. They establish conditions for conducting air tours, including specific routes, altitudes, number of flights, type of aircraft, hours of operations, and reporting requirements.

NPS encourages air tour management agreements with air tour operators. In January 2016, the NPS and FAA signed two air tour management agreements with air tour operators at Big Cypress National Preserve, and in August 2016 with Biscayne National Park.

Graphic correlates numbers and areas of air tour activity in U.S. national parks
Graphic correlates numbers and areas of air tour activity in U.S. national parks in 2015.

NPS / Adam Beeco

The NPS and FAA collect information from air tour companies that fly over national parks. The data provides high-level overviews of air tour activity, including the number of flights per year: The NPS and FAA jointly established the National Parks Overflights Advisory Group in 2001. This group provides continuing advice and counsel with respect to commercial air tour operations over and near national parks. They work with other stakeholders, such as air tour operators and tribes, to address a range of general aviation and environmental concerns.
The NPS Overflights team additionally provides technical assistance to parks. Assistance includes monitoring acoustic conditions, analyzing acoustic and visitor survey data, developing ambient acoustic baseline information, and planning for the management of air tours.

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