Canyon noise

March 22, 2011 by Tim McAdams

Noise is an issue that helicopter operators deal with on a daily basis – some more than others. For the tour companies who fly over the Grand Canyon it is a battle. Just recently, the National Park Service (NPS) proposed new rules that would limit the total number of flights over the canyon and require the use of “quiet technology” helicopters within 10 years. 

Tour operators understand and support the initiative to reduce noise in the park. Many are upgrading their fleets to quieter models like the Eurocopter EC130B4 (also known as the EcoStar); however, they oppose capping the number of flights. Currently, there are just over 400 flights on average per day and the new proposed rule would limit that to 364. Many operators are reporting double-digit growth, so there’s clearly demand to see the canyon by air. 

It’s hard for humans to experience the beauty of remote areas of the earth without leaving some evidence of our visit. For example, if some of the hard to reach areas of the canyon were to be explored by tour bus, roads would have to be built destroying the natural state of the landscape. At least helicopter noise leaves no lasting mark. I agree that the natural quiet of these areas should be protected. The emphasis should be on noise reduction not reducing the number of flights and consequently the number of people who can enjoy these areas. 

In the coming months the NPS will hold several public meetings in Arizona, Utah and Nevada to hear public input. The comment period ends on June 6, 2011.

  • Pilot

    Reducing the amount of flights to the canyon in turn reduces the required number of pilots every year… let alone increasing staffing or any kind of growth at all. With the economy bustling in other countries, can’t we just get a break and just let them come over and spend their money on tours?

  • Vernon Scott

    I’m a pilot and have visited the Grand Canyon. The solitude was broken by helicopter noise. I say ban all flights…… its about money.

  • David Larsen

    My instructor got a job flying tours there, so I get the economic thing, yea jobs are good, but I don’t think Roosevelt or anybody else thought flying through parks were the way to see them. I hiked the Hanch trail in ’95 and I didn’t see a human for two days, it would have been a bummer to see a helicopter. Get a HD video.

  • Ehud Gavron

    Whenever I see a helicopter my heart gets warm, a smile spreads across my face, and I point and yell out in as crazy a voice as I can “HELICOPTER!!!” (I do this at movies too. It drives girlfriends crazy.)

    If I was hiking the Canyon, I’d be excited to see a helicopter.

    I think if the government should ban anything, it should be all those cars on the road that make it take so long to get to the helicopter 😉