Hawaii Congressman Announces Commercial Air Tours Bill


Congressman Ed Case, D-Hawaii, announced his intentions to introduce a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives designed to tighten regulations for commercial air tours on Thursday. Citing the recent fatal crashes of a tour helicopter in Kailua and a skydiving flight at Mokuleia’s Dillingham Airfield, Case says his proposed “Safe and Quiet Skies Act” will direct the FAA to “adopt tighter safety recommendations long advanced by the [NTSB].”

“This current situation is not acceptable for both safety and community impact concerns,” Case wrote in a letter seeking support for the bill. “Regarding ground disruption and risk, the FAA takes the position that its responsibility is strictly operational safety and national airspace efficiency and does not extend to ground disruption and other negative impacts. As a result, the operators, aside from strict takeoff and approach, avoidance of established flight paths and other limited circumstances, are virtually free to fly wherever, whenever and as often as they want. And they do, with little to no self-regulation.”

According to Case, the bill will include requirements that tour flights maintain an altitude of 1,500 feet AGL other than for takeoff and landing, be no louder than 55 dbA above occupied areas and follow sterile cockpit procedures. It would also allow states and localities to impose additional requirements and prohibit tour flights over military installations, national cemeteries, national wilderness areas, national parks and national wildlife refuges. No timeline for the introduction of the bill has been made public.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. “Sterile cockpit?”

    So I guess pointing out the local sights (“On your left is the Freedom Tower”) will be verboten?

    Goodbye, local scenic flights in a Cherokee six.


  2. Amazing how hypocritical congresspersons can be when it comes to aviation issues. They come up with bills like this and yet demand to use an airport close to densely populated areas (Reagan National instead of Dulles), want cheap fares and yet restrict pilot unions from striking ( RLA ) with the excuse that airlines are essential to the country! Where do they think new pilots come from? I wonder what the congressional delegation from Hawaii would do if aviation was banned in Hawaii and they had to take boats or ships to get around. And what solution do those congresspersons have to replace the economic losses that would result in this bill actually passing. As Mr. Yars says, “Morons”!

  3. With the current trend in Congress, I give general aviation 10 more years. Beyond that we will no longer have the freedom we presently have to enjoy our sport. And not just aviation, there will be little individual freedom left in this country.

  4. When all the helicopter operators are gone who will do search and rescue for Mr. Case and the other NIMBYs when they sprain an ankle in a national park? Who will provide disaster relief?