FAA Issues Final Air-tour Rule
Effective January 23, the FAA is codifying the provisions of Title VIII of the National Parks Air Tour Management Act of 2000. This new law finalizes the government’s definition of just what constitutes a commercial air-tour operator (chiefly, an entity that flies sightseers over the Grand Canyon or any other of the 384 parks of the National Park Service regularly at an altitude of less than 5,000 ft agl). All the provisions of the controversial SFAR 50 (which capped the total number of flights over the park within a given calendar year, thereby inflicting an absolute operations lid on air-tour operators) remain in effect. The new rule also prohibits commercial air-tour flights over Rocky Mountain National Park in north central Colorado but leaves open the ongoing controversy over air tour flights over Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.