HAI Issues Call to Action on Proposed Air Tour Management Plans

In response to the U.S. National Park Service’s (NPS) curtailment of air tours over national park lands, Helicopter Association International (HAI) is calling on its members and allies to show their support for America’s air-tour industry. Both the NPS and the FAA are seeking public feedback on draft air-tour management plans (ATMPs) and associated environmental assessments (EAs) proposed for four parks in two states: Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and Haleakalā National Park in Hawaii, and Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota.

The NPS aims to cut back air-tour flights to such a degree that some tour operations will close. The current draft ATMPs are as follows:

  • Badlands National Park ATMP completely eliminates air tours
  • Haleakalā National Park ATMP cuts air tours by 50%
  • Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park ATMP cuts air tours by 86%
  • Mount Rushmore National Memorial ATMP completely eliminates air tours.

Flying tours is an important workforce development pipeline for the vertical aviation industry. Reducing or eliminating these flights will create significant complications for an industry that is already facing a shortage of skilled personnel. Moreover, tourism is a major economic driver in both Hawaii and South Dakota.

“The helicopter tour businesses buy fuel and supplies from other local businesses. Their employees have mortgages, buy groceries, and pay taxes. While some localities might be able to absorb the loss of an entire tourism sector, these ATMPs will probably have a significant economic impact on smaller communities that are dependent on tourism,” says James Viola, HAI president and CEO.

HAI is requesting that its members and others in the industry comment on these draft ATMPs by clicking on the links below. The deadline for submission is June 20, 2023. Because the government counts form letters as a single comment, HAI asks that respondents take a moment to personalize their response and share their reasons why the flights should continue.

“It is time to use our collective voice, even if you do not think you are affected by these proposals,” says Viola. “The Park Service will continue to produce these ATMPs for other lands administered by them, so it is important that our industry speaks up now. I suggest that you also forward this message to your friends and colleagues so that the Park Service hears us loud and clear.”