On March 14 the Senate passed the $52.9 billion federal highway bill (S.1803), which contains significant amendments regarding helicopter tour operations over national parks. Of particular concern is a successful amendment to the bill offered by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) that would give the director of the National Park Service (NPS) broad authority to regulate helicopter and fixed-wing tour flights over land under its administration as well as tribal lands, a move that the air-tour business nationwide regards as debilitating.
Rules governing the construction of objectsthat could be an obstruction to safe aircraft operations might get a little more bite. Under proposed amendments to FAR Part 77 published last week, obstruction standards for the so-called “imaginary surfaces” of airports would be revised, resulting in more structures that could be classified as obstructions.
The FAA has amended new regulations regarding aircraft thermal and acoustic insulation in response to industry concerns that the requirements applied to a much broader range of components and airplanes than was originally intended.