USATA is the only organization in the world exclusively dedicated to representing the interests of air tour operators and allied companies and organizations interested in the growth and development of the air tour industry. For air tour operators and those with whom air tour operators work and do business, belonging to USATA is an essential part of their business development.
NATIONAL AIR TOUR FACTS
At no other association can regular and associate members receive the level of exclusive dedication to air touring than at USATA. Washington representation, education, training, information and networking. The United States Air Tour Association was created to provide representation and growth opportunities for the air tour industry.
· Air tour operators
in the U.S.: 275 Aircraft (Helicopter & Fixed Wing) used to provide air
tours (x3.5): 962.5
· Economic investment in aircraft and equipment (x.5M): $481.25 Million
· Annual air tour flights ( Avg. 7 passengers per flight): 285,714.28
· Annual air tour flying hours (x1.5): 428,571.42
· Air tour industry employees: 3,000
· Economic impact of air touring in the U.S.: $625 Million
· Annual air tour passengers: 2 Million
· Domestic air tour passengers: 40% (800,000)
· Foreign air tour passengers: 60% (1,200,000)
· Under 15 yrs old/over 50 yrs old air tour passengers: 30% (600,000)
· Handicapped air tour passengers: 12% (240,000)
· Air tour passengers choosing air tours for health-related reasons:
· Accidents per 100,000 hours flown: 1.9
· Safety/proficiency standards for USATA members: FAR Part 135
· Environmental impact of air tours on the ground: None
THE VOICE OF AIR TOURING
Since it's founding in the
mid-90s, the United States Air Tour Association (USATA) has been the preeminent
national voice for the air tour industry. While many other quality Washington,
DC-based associations represent various aspects of the aviation community, USATA
is the only organization which represents air touring exclusively in the United
States. We are widely recognized by Congress, the Federal Aviation Administration,
National Park Service, Department of Transportation, Department of the Interior,
and national news media as the organization to turn to for the straight scoop
on the commercial air sightseeing industry.
USATA's achievements are
abundant, but perhaps no more significant were our accomplishments for air touring
following September 11th.
GETTING BACK IN THE AIR
The impact on the air tour
industry of September 11th and the forced "groundstop" by the Federal
Aviation Administration was crushing. Every hour air tour airplanes and helicopters
remained on the ground cost the industry millions of dollars. Getting these
aircraft back in the air as quickly as possible was paramount. It took three
days and intense negotiations between USATA officials, the FAA and the North
American Air Defense Command, but within 72 hours of 911, air tours were flying
again VFR. No other aircraft in the United States was permitted to fly VFR -
except aerial sightseeing flights.
Within days of 911, Congress
and the Bush Administration had crafted a five billion airline relief package.
But initially, the package was only going to provide assistance to major air
carriers. Immediately the USATA lobbying machine shifted into high gear and
argued that the air tour industry also deserved some economic help from the
federal government. After weeks of intense lobbying, Congress included air touring
in the airline relief package resulting in millions of dollars in assistance
to the air tour industry.
AIR TOUR MANAGEMENT PLANS
When the environmental community
and it's millions of dollars of lobbying pressure attempted to regulate the
air tour industry out of existence, USATA was there. Participating in a year
and a half negotiation on the National Park Overflight Working Group (NPOWG)
with the FAA and NPS, USATA was instrumental in the crafting of statutory and
regulatory language designed to save air touring at national parks throughout
The NPS is now trying to
block Interim Operating Authority for those operators which have applied for
IOC at those locations. USATA is here to assist operators as they battle through
the regulatory red tape - for nobody knows the ATMP process like USATA.
USATA has been the chief
proponent in the aviation industry for the development of new quiet technology
aircraft and for regulations which will reward air tour operators for the millions
of dollars they have invested and will invest in transitioning to a quieter
fleet of aircraft. USATA has worked closely with the FAA and Congress on the
development of new quiet technology parameters and incentives for operators.
LOBBYING ON CAPITOL HILL
Since the mid-90s, USATA
has been the preeminent voice of the air tour industry in Congress. Led by former
Nevada Congressman Jim Santini, USATA's lobbying efforts in Washington are second
to none. We work closely with the leadership of the key Congressional committees
whose decisions and actions impact air touring. We are well respected in the
halls of Congress and are invited frequently to testify on behalf of air tour
operators. Our testimony and efforts on the Hill have exposed pro-active initiatives
by the National Park Service and environmental groups to run air tours out of
business resulting in more intense oversight by Congress and Congressional efforts
to keep air tours flying.
But, these are just some of the more notable achievements by USATA. There are
many more. We are battling for relief from caps and curfews, more scenic routings,
excise tax relief, favorable treatment in the FAR Part 135 rewrite, maintaining
McCarran Airport in Las Vegas for air tour operations, issues related to Park
overflight fees, and more. Chief among our accomplishments is the significantly
increased visibility USATA has crafted for the air tour community among members
of the aviation trade and general news media. Keeping our industry and our issues
in front of the public and decision makers in Washington is central to the industry's
long-term viability. Perhaps better than any other Washington aviation organization,
USATA ensures that when we need to get the word out, we are the credible and
reliable source for news reporters nationwide.
Jim Santini -- The Honorable
James Santini is Washington Legislative Counsel for USATA. He served as a Member
of the United States House of Representatives from 1975 - 1983 representing
the State of Nevada. Among his other notable Congressional leadership posts,
he served on the House Interstate & Foreign Commerce Committee and was chairman
of the U.S. Congressional Travel & Tourism Caucus. An accomplished attorney,
Congressman Santini served as a trial lawyer and District Court Judge in Nevada.
He is recognized as one of the leading travel/tourism and aviation lobbyists
in Washington, DC.
Steve Bassett -- Steve Bassett
has been the president of USATA since 1996. He is an instrument-rated pilot
with more than 25 years aviation experience serving as president of the United
States Air Tour Association (USATA) representing Part 121 & 135 commercial
air tour operators, and senior vice president of Aircraft Owners and Pilots
Association (AOPA). He was a major market television and radio broadcaster and
reported for NBC and is a decorated Vietnam Veteran.