Photo of Canyon de Chelly National Monument: iStock/dscz

As the FAA and the US National Park Service (NPS) seek to constrain or even eliminate air tours over public lands, Vertical Aviation International (VAI) is fighting to protect airspace access over national parks and monuments throughout the United States.

Today, the FAA and the NPS requested comments on an air tour management plan (ATMP) for Arizona’s Canyon de Chelly National Monument that would eliminate air tours.

“The FAA and the NPS are completing the process of developing ATMPs for 23 parks. The ATMPs cut air tours up to 86% in some parks and call for their total elimination in other parks,” says Cade Clark, chief government affairs officer for VAI. “We are fighting to ensure that access to that airspace is preserved not only for air tour operators but also for members of the public who want to experience the beauty of the parks and monuments from the air.”

Clark says the elimination of flights in the proposed Canyon de Chelly National Monument ATMP adds to a long list of US park properties that already have restrictions in place. He indicates that the association has implemented a multipronged approach seeking relief from Congress and the courts to protect park visitors’ access to and enjoyment of America’s natural treasures.

“The federal government’s action means that the beauty of the parks, which is an American birthright, is denied to some visitors, including the very young, seniors, and people with disabilities,” adds Clark.

VAI also notes that the process of developing ATMPs has left out an essential organization, the National Parks Overflights Advisory Group, established by Congress to include air tour operator and tribal representatives and other stakeholders. “We have long promoted our Fly Neighborly program, where operators collaborate with communities to arrive at mutually agreeable solutions,” says Clark. “The ATMP process has excluded the industry and other critical stakeholders as collaborators, with the result being that more than the air tour industry is hurt—the public also loses.”

Learn more about how you can join the fight.

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