FAA unconcerned about safety issues, says helitours could begin anytime

JACKSON, Wyo. — The Jackson Hole Airport, Grand Teton National Park, and others in the community have serious concerns about the ability of a local pilot to safely operate scenic helicopter tours in Jackson Hole. The FAA does not.

The airport board received a response by the Federal Aviation Administration to its letter dated December 27, 2019 expressing worry about the concerns over the safety of proposed scenic helicopter operations by Wind River Air, LLC in high altitude conditions surrounding Jackson Hole.

Tony Chambers. Courtesy photo

In its response, FAA stated that Wind River Air had already obtained its approval and could begin operating at any time. FAA stated, “Wind River Air, LLC and its staff have met all of the requirements necessary to continue to exercise the privileges afforded by the Letter of Authorization.”

The airport board had sought FAA’s safety review because it was a key concern of the airport and others in the community. The FAA response clearly states it has reviewed the concern and reconfirmed Wind River Air’s Tony Chambers is approved to begin flights whenever he wants.

“This letter from FAA makes it clear that, legally, we have no choice but to permit this type of aviation activity in order to comply with Federal Regulations,” stated airport board president Jerry Blann.

Chambers held a public forum where he described his plans and listened to community concerns. After that event, Chambers decided to hold off on moving forward until he felt he could better address those worries.

The Jackson Hole Airport board says it will continue to pursue all lawful avenues in order to ensure the safety of operations from the airport and pursue measures to minimize impacts to the community and Grand Teton National Park.

Chambers could not be reached for comment.

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