Grand Canyon Pilots Get Quiet Incentives

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Air-tour operators who use quieter airplanes in the Grand Canyon could be rewarded with more flights and routes under a long-awaited set of noise guidelines published last week in the Federal Register by the FAA. The rules set maximum noise levels for various types of aircraft and allow aircraft with greater seating capacity to make more racket than smaller planes. The goal is to have half of the national park free of noise 75 to 100 percent of the time. "We've been asking the FAA for years to do this," Steve Bassett, head of the U.S. Air Tours Association (USATA), told The Associated Press. Under current restrictions on routes and frequency of flights through the park, there's room to fly about 800,000 tourists through the canyon each year. If those rules were lifted, the number would triple. Under the new guidelines, companies that use quieter equipment could eventually get greater access to the park. "Aircraft that meet the quiet technology standards should get something back," Bassett told the AP. "If you're going to fly quieter stuff, there should be some incentive." Aircraft noise standards for the Grand Canyon have been under discussion for almost 20 years.