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HAI Displeased with Air Tour Restrictions

Local Operators Feel Process of Air Tour Management Plans Failed to Consider Much

Helicopter Association International members aren't too happy with recent rulemaking by the National Park Service and the FAA, and they're heading to Congress to voice their displeasure.

The recent rules regarding air tourism near Mount Rushmore National Park have not been great news for those operating in the area, who feel the FAA overstepped its bounds by "limiting and in some cases eliminating air park tours without consideration of the economic, environmental, and access issues for the public and air tour operators." Local operators feel their livelihoods barely factored into the development of the NPS/FAA air tour management plans, and near elimination of certain park tours failed to account for the greater consequences of the change.

The roster of testimonies is set to include Mark A. Schlaefli, president of Rushmore Helicopters, Black Hills Aerial Adventures, and Badger Helicopters in his role as vice chair of the HAI Board of Directors. Jake Tomlin, president of Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters and Grand Canyon Scenic Airlines will make his opinion known, too.

“The national parks should be available for all visitors to see," reads a portion of Schlaefi's testimony. "Eliminating flights over the park unfairly limits the ability of the elderly, very young, disabled, and others to experience the park. Limiting flights over the parks is discriminating to those who might not have the time, resources, or physical ability to see the park any other way. Freedom to choose a visitation method should be preserved.”

"We are strongly opposed to the damaging impacts of the ATMPs, which damage extends beyond our company and to our local communities and the public wishing to visit the national parks," reads Tomlin's.

FMI: www.house.gov

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