Attached To Highway Bill, Amendment Favor Air Tours Over The National Landmark
An amendment offered by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to the federal highway bill has been included in the final version of the legislation passed by the Senate Tuesday. The amendment will ease restrictions on air tour operators flying over the Grand Canyon.
“While my amendment doesn’t solve all of the problems with the National Park Service Air Tour Plan, it does address significant concerns raised by the FAA regarding the Plan’s impact on commercial jets serving Las Vegas-McCarran International Airport – something never intended by the original 1987 Act," McCain said in a statement. "It will also incentivize quiet technology for air tour operators, reducing noise in Grand Canyon National Park. It is my hope that this amendment will serve as an incremental step towards improving the overall Plan.”
McCain said air tours provide a unique sightseeing experience for people who might otherwise not be able to visit the Grand Canyon, particularly the elderly and the disabled. A process that began 25 years ago with the Grand Canyon Overflights Act of 1987 has since resulted in what McCain called a flawed Park Service Air Tour Plan that will decimate the Grand Canyon air tourism industry. According to an independent economic analysis, the Plan would kill hundreds of tourism jobs and cause operators to lose approximately $18 million in the first year alone. The Plan also doesn’t factor in the $200 million that air tour operators have already invested in quiet technology and relies on faulty assumptions about the level of noise at the Grand Canyon today.
Senator McCain’s amendment, which was supported by Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Harry Reid (D-NV) and Dean Heller (R-NV) states that FAA management of high-altitude passenger aircraft would not be affected under the proposed Park Service plan, which is consistent with the intent of the original 1987 Act. The amendment also directs the National Park Service and FAA to implement long-overdue quiet technology incentives that will help reduce noise at the Grand Canyon.