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Friday, December 22, 2023
Air Tours to be Restricted over Volcanoes National Park
By News Release @ 12:26 PM :: 1279 Views :: Tourism

National Park Service completes Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park Air Tour Management Plan

News Release from NPS, December 21, 2023

HAWAII NATIONAL PARK, Hawaiʻi - The National Park Service (NPS) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) completed an Air Tour Management Plan for Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park on December 20, 2023. 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 180 days after the date the plan takes effect. 

Specifically, the plan:  

--Authorizes up to 1,548 air tours per year on three specific routes within the plan’s boundary. This is a significant reduction from existing levels of more than 11,300 flights per year.  

--The air tours can occur between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. local time on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Qualifying air tours using quiet technology may fly from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on those days, as well as on Wednesdays.   

--Designates three air tour routes that avoid the summit of Kīlauea and protect key cultural and natural resources, visitor use areas, and park wilderness. Air tours will be limited to these routes.  

Identifies no-fly days to include:  

  • Sundays  

Six traditional Hawaiian holidays:  

  • 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 dates that honor and acknowledge important Hawaiʻi‘i Island aliʻi, people of traditional nobility:   

  • Ruth Ke‘elikōlani (February 9)  
  • Bernice Pauahi Bishop (December 19)  

“The ATMP is more than 20 years in the making. It significantly reduces the number of low-flying air tours over the park to protect the natural and cultural resources, the wilderness character and general visitor experience,” said Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park Superintendent Rhonda Loh. “We deeply appreciate everyone's input throughout this long process with us.”  

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 addresses and responds to concerns identified during these consultations and through public comment.   

Hawai’i Volcanoes 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 to regarding aviation safety.

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

-NPS- 

HTH: HVNP air tours limited: New management plan puts substantial restrictions on overflights

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