Air Tour NPRM Gets Another Look

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Public Meetings Planned, Comment Period Extended...

After being bombarded by protests from angry air-tour operators, charity groups and vintage-aircraft organizations, the FAA says it will consider changes to its highly controversial National Air Tour Standards. "I think there's a willingness and a flexibility to accommodate some portions of the community," Greg Martin, the FAA's deputy director of communications, told AVweb. On Tuesday, the FAA announced that it was extending the comment period (until June 28) and holding two public meetings (in Washington, D.C., on May 11 and Las Vegas on May 21) to discuss the proposed rule, which by the FAA's own analysis would shut down the air-tour operations in about 700 businesses. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was published last October and resulted in an unceasing torrent of protest. The FAA said the NPRM was designed to address safety concerns raised by the NTSB over air-tour crashes, most notably in Hawaii. But opponents to the rule said the FAA failed to make its case on the safety issue and was trying to implement a one-size-fits-all approach to a complex and diverse industry. Alphabet groups were virtually unanimous in their condemnation and some members of Congress also weighed in. The final straw may have been when the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration urged the FAA to withdraw the bill, as AVwebreported in early April.