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Newly completed management plan reduces air tours by 54% at Haleakalā : Maui Now

Air Tour Management Plan for Haleakalā National Park is completed. PC: Haleakalā National Park February 2022 newsletter

The National Park Service and the Federal Aviation Administration have completed an Air Tour Management Plan for Haleakalā National Park, which authorizes up to 2,224 air tours per year, a 54% reduction from the existing average of 4,824 flights per year.

The plan provides for the continuation of air tours at reduced levels over the park and within a half-mile of its boundary to protect natural and cultural resources, wilderness, the integrity of Native Hawaiian sacred sites and ceremonial areas, and visitor experiences.

Operators will be permitted to continue to conduct air tours within the Air Tour Management Plan boundary up to the limit of Interim Operating Authority and until their Operation Specifications are amended, which will occur no later than July 7, 2024.

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Specifically, the plan also:

  • Limits times that the air tours can occur to between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. local time on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Qualifying air tours using quiet technology may fly from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on those days. It identifies no-fly days as  Sundays and Wednesdays.
  • Limits air tours to a single one-way route from west to east over the southern area of the Park. The route avoids Haleakalā Crater, where sound levels are among the lowest recorded in any national park, and protects key cultural and natural resources, visitor use areas, and park wilderness.
  • Establishes minimum altitudes of 2,000 feet above ground level over land and 3,000 feet above ground level over the ocean. Vertical separation (“stacking”) of aircraft along the route is prohibited.
  • Sets a ¼-mile buffer on either side of the route as the acceptable range of deviation that does not trigger enforcement action.
  • Identifies no-fly days to include:
    • Sundays and Wednesdays
    • Six commercial-free days that follow the Hawaiian Moon Calendar and Makahiki Season, and which vary from year to year:
      • End of Makahiki (typically in January)
      • Zenith Noon (typically in May)
      • Summer Solstice (June)
      • Zenith Noon (typically in July)
      • Start of Makahiki (typically in October)
      • Winter Solstice (December)
    • Two culturally significant Hawaiʻi state holidays determined through consultation.
      • Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole Day (March 26)
      • King Kamehameha I Day (June 11) 
    • Six additional no-fly days of important cultural significance to Native Hawaiians
  • Sets a January 1, 2033, deadline after which all commercial air tours must use quiet technology aircraft.

The air tour management plan was developed in cooperation with stakeholders representing a variety of interests, including Native Hawaiian organizations, other land management agencies, local communities, and recreation groups.

The plan was designed to address and respond to concerns identified during these consultations and through public comment.

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Haleakalā National Park is one of several national parks for which the NPS and FAA have developed or are currently developing an air tour management plan or voluntary agreement to meet the requirements of the National Parks Air Tour Management Act. Each air tour management plan or agreement is developed to manage commercial air tours in a way that is consistent with the NPS’s mission, the individual park’s purposes, and the FAA’s authority regarding aviation safety. 

The final air tour management plan is available at the Planning, Environment & Public Comment website here. Please visit NPS Air Tours and FAA’s Air Tour Management Plan site for more information about air tour management plans.   

Source: Maui News

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