Over-Restrictive FAA Regulatory Initiative Stands to Devastate Air Tour Industry | Aero-News Network
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Over-Restrictive FAA Regulatory Initiative Stands to Devastate Air Tour Industry

Activism Codified

The Federal Aviation Administration contends it is moving to improve the collective safety of air-tours across the state of Hawaii.

The agency has outlined, more or less, what it touts a “consistent new process where air-tour operators can receive authorization to safely descend below specific altitudes to avoid flying into bad weather.

FAA Acting Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety David Boulter equivocated: “This process will help prevent situations where pilots encounter poor visibility and become disoriented.”

FAA regulations require air-tour operators in the state of Hawaii to maintain altitudes of at least 1,500-feet AGL unless specifically authorized to fly lower. The agency asserts its newly-proposed process comprises detailed guidance by which operators may develop safety plans supportive of their authorization requests. Subject guidance includes recommendations for pilot-training and qualifications and aircraft equipment.

The FAA sets forth it will “thoroughly review each operator’s safety plan before issuing an authorization.”

The public will have thirty-days to comment on the proposed protocol, which could take effect in spring 2024, thereby replacing a 15-year-old manual.

The FAA also encourages air-tour operators across Hawaii to adopt Safety Management Systems (SMS) while the agency munificently develops a rule mandating such programs.

According to the FAA, the term Safety Management System connotes a formal, top-down, organization-wide approach to managing risk and assuring the effectiveness of risk controls. Safety Management Systems include systematic procedures, practices, and policies for the management of safety risk. Many pilots, however, look upon SMS protocols as elaborate nooses by which the FAA seeks in perpetuity to hang pilots by their genitals.

Speaking to the subject of Safety Management Systems, a former NetJets Hawker 800XP PIC remarked: “It’s a blame allocation mechanism that functions on the fatuous premise that the risks inherent packing people into aluminum tubes and blasting them through the upper atmosphere on columns of burning jet fuel can be mitigated with paperwork. Plainly stated, SMS seeks to supplant pilot expertise and experience with flowcharts, worksheets, and simple math.”

Undeterred by the opinions of the unwashed pilot masses, the FAA concluded in an 04 August 2023 communique titled FAA Outlines Hawaii Air Tour Safety Improvements that all aircraft operators are legally beholden to the provisions of the agency’s Air Tour Management Plans for Hawaii’s National Parks.

Broadly speaking, Air Tour Management Plans (ATMPs) call for radical and reactionary measures the likes of eliminating air-tours in their entirety in some U.S. parks and, in others, cutting such undertakings by as much as 86-percent.

In addition to dramatically curtailing park access for innumerable elderly, disabled, and very young visitors, the proposed ATMPs stand to undermine the air-tour industry to a degree commensurate with the forced closures of many smaller air-tour operators.

For the purpose of safeguarding accessibility to America’s national parks and defending air-tour operators from egregious governmental overreach, the Helicopter Association International (HAI) has actively campaigned against ATMPs by creating and promoting petitions opposing the measures and disseminating such to the FAA and the U.S. National Park Service.

Parties interested in voicing their concerns over or outright opposition to the promulgation of ATMPs are encouraged to do so during the upcoming thirty-day comment period.

FMI: https://rotor.org/advocacy_resource/hai-summary-of-flawed-atmp-process


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