8900.1 CHG 22


CHAPTER 9 Air tour management plans

Section 2 Air Tour Management Plans: Flight Operations Subject to Interim Operating Authority and Air Tour Management Plan

11-420    APPLICABILITY. This section prescribes the conditions a flight operation must include to be a commercial air tour operation subject to interim operating authority (IOA) and air tour management plans (ATMP). This section will assist Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors in determining whether an operation qualifies as a commercial air tour operation (as defined in the National Parks Air Tour Management Act of 2000 (NPATMA)).

A.    Conditions of Flight. All of the following conditions must be met for the operation to be considered a commercial air tour:

1)    The flight is conducted for compensation or hire;
2)    The aircraft used is a powered aircraft;
3)    A purpose of the flight is sightseeing; and
4)    The flight is conducted below 5,000 feet above ground level (AGL) in any of the following places (exception, see paragraph 11‑287):

    Over a unit of the national park system,

    Within 1/2 nautical mile (NM) outside the boundary of a National Park unit,

    Over tribal lands, or

    Less than 1 NM laterally from any geographic feature within the park (unless more than 1/2 NM outside the boundary).

B.    Determining if a Purpose of the Flight is Sightseeing.

1)    The determination of whether sightseeing comprises a purpose of a particular operation is dependent upon several variables. In cases where situations are not expressly covered here, inspectors should consult with Flight Standards, Western Pacific Region, AWP‑200, who will have the latest policy guidance and ensure its uniform application. For related environmental issues AWP‑200 will consult with AWP‑4 for the latest National Park policy guidance.
2)    NPATMA provides that any of the following factors may be considered:
a)    Is there a holding out to the public of a willingness to conduct a sightseeing flight for compensation or hire? This can be shown by pamphlets, Web sites, or other advertising.
b)    Did the flight include a narrative that referred to areas or points of interest on the surface below the route of flight?
c)    Is the area of operation near a unit of the National Park System?
d)    Does the operator conduct these types of flights on a frequent basis?
e)    Is the flight(s) planned route for the purpose of sightseeing over a unit of the National Park System?
f)    Is the inclusion of sightseeing flights a part of a travel arrangement package offered by the person offering the flight?
g)    Would the flight have been canceled because of poor visibility of the surface below the route of flight?
h)    Any other factors that the Administrator and the Director of the National Park Service consider appropriate.

11-421    EXCEPTIONS. The following flight operations are not regulated by NPATMA:

A.    Takeoff or Landing. A flight that operates below 5,000 feet AGL over a unit of the national park system or over tribal lands or within 1/2 NM outside the boundary of a national park, solely for the purpose of takeoff or landing.

B.    Safe Operation of the Aircraft. This phrase encompasses the discretionary action of a pilot who descends below 5,000 ft AGL over or within 1/2 NM outside the boundary of a national park, where the descent is necessary for the safe operation of the aircraft. This is determined by FAA regulations requiring the pilot in command to take whatever action necessary to ensure the safe operation of the aircraft.

C.    Grand Canyon National Park. Commercial air tour operations over Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP) (see SFAR 50‑2 and part 93)).

D.    Tribal Lands Within or Abutting GCNP. A Commercial air tour operation over that portion of tribal lands within or abutting the GCNP.

E.    Alaska. A commercial air tour operation over lands or waters located in the State of Alaska.

F.    Lake Mead . Any air tour operator while flying over or near the Lake Mead National Recreational Area (LMNRA), solely as a transportation route, to conduct an air tour over the GCNP. An air tour operator flying over the Hoover Dam in the LMNRA en route to the GCNP is deemed to be flying solely as a transportation route.

1)    A large portion of the commercial air tours to GCNP originate in Las Vegas, Nevada, and as such, transit over LMNRA en route to/from the Grand Canyon. It was never the intent of NPATMA to capture these operations, since they are already regulated through SFAR 50‑2 and Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 93, unless they also are commercial air tour operations of LMNRA.
2)    All commercial air tour operators flying over or near LMNRA, solely as a transportation route, to conduct a commercial air tour over GCNP are exempt from the provisions of the NPATMA, and from the IOA requirements of 14 CFR part 136.
3)    Principal operations inspectors (POI) having oversight responsibilities relating to commercial air tour operators are required to review (with the operator) all flight operations which transit LMNRA. If it is determined that all of the operatorís flights for which IOA was issued are solely transiting LMNRA en route to/from GCNP for the purpose of conducting a commercial air tour of GCNP, then that operator does not require the issuance of operations specification (OpSpec) B057, National Park Air Tour Management Operations‑Under 14 CFR Part 136. If the operator is conducting a commercial air tour of the LMNRA for some or all of the flights, then the operator will need OpSpec B057 for those flights.
4)    If it is determined that the number of operations in OpSpec B057 is incorrect, or that the entire OpSpec B057 was issued in error, the POI should amend or rescind OpSpec B057 authority, as appropriate, and send a letter to the operator stating why the OpSpec authority is being amended or why the authorization is being rescinded. If the operator requests at a later date to conduct air tours of Lake Mead then the operator must apply as a new entrant.

11-422    PROHIBITED FLIGHTS. A commercial air tour operation in the airspace over the Rocky Mountain National Park is prohibited.

RESERVED.    Paragraphs 11‑423 through 11‑437.