Barely a week before two sightseeing helicopters crashed just four
days apart on Kauai, killing five and injuring three, the National
Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) criticized the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) for not properly conducting safety checks of tour
companies. In Maui County alone, NTSB reports show 16 sightseeing
helicopter crashes since 1985. While that’s a tiny number compared to
the total number of sightseeing flights, three of those crashes–nearly
20 percent–took place in the last year alone:
Jan. 29, 2006: An Alika Aviation Eurocopter lands hard in a Kahului field shortly after takeoff. No one aboard is injured.
Jan. 10, 2006: Six people
are injured—one seriously—when a Sunshine Helicopters Eurocopter loses
engine power and crashes on steep slope near Kaupo.
Jan. 5, 2006: Following a
loss of engine power, a Blue Hawaiian Eurocopter does a hard landing in
Honokohau Valley. The six people aboard escape injury.
Oct. 14, 2005: An Alika
Aviation Hughes 369D helicopter crashes at Kahului Airport after its
tail rotor fails. None of the five aboard are injured.
July 21, 2000: Seven people die aboard a Blue Hawaiian Aerospatiale AS helicopter when it slams into a cloud-covered mountain in Iao Valley.
April 21, 2000: A Sunshine
Helicopters Eurocopter makes a hard landing in Iao Valley following a
loss of engine power. None of the six aboard are injured.
Nov. 12, 1996: A McDonnell Douglas 369D operated by Alika Aviation rolls over after landing in Hana. None of the five aboard are injured.
Oct. 11, 1995: Though the
pilot of the AlexAir Hughes 369HS wasn’t injured when he performed an
emergency landing at Hana Airport following engine failure, his four
passengers did receive minor injuries.
Oct. 24, 1994: A Papillon Eurocopter hits the trees near Kaupo after losing power. All four aboard suffered minor injuries.
Feb. 28, 1994: An
Aerospatiale AS-350D operated by Papillon Helicopters loses power and
makes an emergency landing in Huelo. None of the five aboard are
Sept. 16, 1993: Seven people die when the pilot of an Aerospatiale AS-350B crashes in Hana during bad weather.
Mar. 10, 1993: An Aerospatiale AS-350B makes a hard landing in Kahului following loss of engine power. None of the six aboard are injured.
May 5, 1991: Three of the
five people aboard a Hughes 369HS are injured when the pilot makes a
hard landing in Keanae following loss of engine power.
May 19, 1986: Two die and
two are injured aboard a Bell 206D that hits power lines in a canyon.
The pilot later tells investigators he never saw the power lines.
Sept. 26, 1985: An Aerospatiale AS-350D crashes in Kula due to pilot error. Of the six aboard, one dies and the rest receive minor injuries.
June 15, 1985: A Bell 206B-III hits the surf off Lahaina after suffering engine failure. None of the four aboard are injured. MTW