The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating a helicopter
crash which took the lives of five people on Molokai on November 10. The
incident involving local tour company Blue Hawaiian Helicopters took place
during a 45-minute tour of west Maui and Molokai.
Everyone on board including the pilot, a 30-year-old resident of Maui,
as well as four visitors – a newlywed couple from Pennsylvania and
couple from Canada – were found dead at the scene. The EC-130 helicopter
in the crash was less than a year old.
In July 2000, the same company was involved when a twin-engine AS-355 crashed
in Maui's Iao Valley, killing all seven people on board. In that accident,
the NTSB found the pilot responsible for making an "inadequate decision"
and for failing to maintain enough altitude in the cloudy region.
As a result of the incident, Blue Hawaiian Helicopters installed "terrain
awareness systems" into its planes, allowing the pilot to view a
map of the area despite weather conditions. The company announced that
it closed last Friday in order for company officials to further review
Recently, helicopter tour companies have come under fire for their ability
to keep guests safe. In addition to this month's Molokai accident,
there was a deadly crash in Manhattan just last month and in that city,
some lawmakers are looking to ban tourist and pleasure flights following
Blue Hawaiian Helicopters conducts an estimated 160,000 tours annually
throughout Hawaii. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National
Transportation Safety Board are currently investigating the cause of the crash.