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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Air Tour Management Plan (ATMP)


Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Western Pacific Regional Office (AWP); National Park Service (NPS) Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division

Project Highlights

  • The Air Tour Management Plan (ATMP) program addresses issues with air tour aircraft noise impacts in the U.S. National Parks.
  • ATMP is a joint effort by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Park Service (NPS), supported by the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe Center).
  • The FAA's Integrated Noise Model (INM), maintained by the Volpe Center, provides a comprehensive computer model for National Park air tour aircraft noise prediction and analysis.
  • Volpe ATMP support includes data collection, environmental modeling and analysis, Environmental Assessments (EA), and Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) to aid in FAA and NPS compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Project Overview

Congress passed the National Parks Air Tour Management Act of 2000 (The Act) effective April 5, 2000 (Public Law 106-181, 114 Stat. 61, Title VIII). The Act provides for the regulation of commercial air tour operations over units of the national park system through air tour management plans (ATMPs). Approximately 100 park units will need ATMPs developed. The objective of the ATMPs is to develop acceptable and effective measures to mitigate or prevent significant adverse impacts, if any, of commercial air tour operations upon the natural and cultural resources of and visitor experiences in national park units as well as tribal lands (those included in or abutting a national park).

The FAA and NPS determined that Version 6.2 of the FAA's Integrated Noise Model (INM), development of which was led by the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe Center) was the appropriate noise model to use to analyze the sound environment and compute the various noise metrics for use in the assessment of potential noise impacts at ATMP parks. Since 1978, INM has been FAA's and the Volpe Center's standard noise model for aircraft noise assessments. INM is a computer program used by over 700 organizations in over 50 countries to assess noise impacts. Requirements for INM use are defined in FAA Order 1050.1E, Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures and Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) Part 150, Airport Noise Compatibility Planning. In accordance with the results of the Federal Interagency Committee on Aviation Noise (FICAN) review ("Findings and Recommendations on Tools for Modeling Aircraft Noise in National Parks"), INM Version 6.2 is the best-practice modeling methodology currently available for evaluating aircraft noise in National Parks and will be the model used for ATMP development.

The Volpe Center continues to work with the FAA in cooperation with the National Park Service to develop Air Tour Management Plans (ATMPs) for all National Parks with commercial air tours. This support includes:

  1. Prepare environmental assessments (EA) and environmental impact statements (EIS) to mitigate or prevent significant adverse impacts from such tours on natural and cultural resources, visitor experiences, and tribal lands within the Parks
  2. Lead INM-based ATMP noise analyses
  3. Support the establishment of benchmark ambient conditions for different park settings
  4. Incorporate new air tour aircraft as needed into the INM database
  5. Collect ambient noise data in the National Parks
Mount Rushmore

The Air Tour Management Plan (ATMP) program addresses issues with air tour aircraft noise impacts in the U.S. National Parks. (Volpe photo)

Last updated: Thursday, January 3, 2019