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Air Tour Limits Over U.S. Parks Being Planned

March 16, 1994|RAY DELGADO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — Responding to years of complaints that noisy sightseeing flights disrupt the tranquillity of national parks, two federal agencies are considering new restrictions on air tour operators.

Interior and Transportation department officials said at a press conference Tuesday that they specifically want to curtail noise at the Grand Canyon and Hawaii volcanoes parks, although new rules also might be considered for other parks. The agencies are inviting the public to comment.

"This is an issue that has long been just ignored," said David Hinson, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, a branch of the Transportation Department.

Possible restrictions include new limits on air tour flight zones and on hours of operation, said Transportation Secretary Federico Pena. The government also might create maximum permissible noise levels similar to those in place at commercial airports.

The joint Interior-Transportation announcement ends years of disagreement between two agencies whose missions often conflicted on the issue of park noise. The Park Service, a division of Interior, wanted to reduce noise levels. The FAA was concerned with air carrier safety, which usually meant spreading flights over the largest possible geographic area and the longest time periods.

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