House GA Caucus Responds to Threat
Highway bill provision would hinder air tour industry
May 31, 2012 - The co-chairmen of the House General Aviation Caucus have forwarded a letter to congressional leaders that opposes a transportation bill provision that could greatly harm the nation's air tour industry.
Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) and Rep. John Barrow (D-GA) gathered nearly 20 other co-signers for the letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. John Mica (R-FL), whose committees will be considering the "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act." A provision tucked into that highway reauthorization bill would hand over unprecedented authority to the National Park Service for flights over national parks and tribal lands, grabbing control of the nation's airspace from the FAA and threatening jobs and companies of those involved in the air tour industry.
It would weaken a policy that balanced protection of the national parks with a safe and viable air tour industry, which allows thousands of people to enjoy the national parks from the air each year.
"The end result will be lost jobs for pilots, drivers, tour guides, support staff, and local businesses and adversely impact the helicopter manufacturing, maintenance and parts industries," the letter states. It also notes that the provision disregards that the air tour industry is investing in new technology, such as FAA-defined "Quiet Technology" engines and designs, to minimize the effect of overflights to other national parks users.
The exact provision in Division G - "Air Transportation" can be found in Senate bill S. 1813, near the end of the bill.