The recently enacted ‘‘FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012’’ places the agency on stable financial footing–at least through 2014–and also contains some important provisions for the helicopter industry. First, it requires the FAA Administrator, within one year, to design and conduct a study of mandating Part 135 helicopter ambulance providers to use night vision goggles. In addition, it places more restrictions on air tour operators.
After debating Grand Canyon air-tour noise for eight years, the Grand Canyon Working Group (GCWG) has left the issue to the National Park Service (NPS), which often supports environmentalist positions. At a recent meeting the GCWG disagreed on NPS alternatives, including a seasonal shift in air-tour corridors by alternatively closing the Zuni and Dragon corridors, which are now open concurrently.
“Environmentally sensitive logging.” It’s a phrase that seems almost a contradiction in terms. After all, isn’t logging blamed for habitat destruction of a yards-long list of endangered and outright extinct species? And aren’t helicopters those esoteric flying machines that routinely spew death, fire, spare parts and, worst of all, noise, on every terrain they overfly?
The FAA has proposed an opinion that would prevent air tour operators from transferring national park air tour interim operating authority (IOA), effectively barring new-entrant tour operators and limiting the number of annual national park tour overflights. The public comment period ended July 28.