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Lax Oversight And Negligence Caused Helicopter Crash That Killed 6 Tourists In Hawaii

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A helicopter crash that killed seven people in 2019 has just been labeled as “totally preventable” by authorities. The process took some years of investigation, but after a lengthy analysis, it concluded that those lives could have been spared.

The accident happened in December 2019 on the island of Kauai. The tour helicopter crashed into a cliff near the Na Pali Coast, killing six tourists aboard and the pilot. Witnesses and pilots reported turbulent weather around the area when the accident happened, indicating that the pilot’s decision was a dangerous move, resulting in a disastrous situation for all involved.

mountains in kauai

The allegations found that the pilot was guilty of his decision to carry on bad weather. However, the prosecutors analyzed that some other factors were involved in the accident that should have been prevented. For example, the lack of real-time weather analysis capabilities also contributed to the accident. 

helicopter flying in cloudy weather

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) delayed the installation of weather cameras around Hawaii for safety measures. As a result, those cameras could have reported the presence of treacherous conditions around Kauai to the pilot.

Na Pali Coast in kauai

Safety board Chair Jennifer Homendy alerted that it’s 100% FAA’s role to ensure the safety of air tour operations

“There was minimal FAA oversight of the safety of air tour operations in Hawaii. The FAA should be leading on safety, not ceding their responsibility to the industry that they are charged with regulating.”

helicopter flying

Also, the safety board has voted 4-0 to accept a staff-written explanation of the crash’s likely cause and ten safety recommendations, eight of which directly addressed to the FAA.

The FAA alleged that it’s installing cameras around Hawaii to ensure that safety is the priority. There are many cameras in Alaska, and now Hawaii seems to be a priority, as flying tours are a famous attraction for tourists, especially now that tourism is once again pumping into the islands.

mountains with clouds in hawaii

According to the witnesses, there was rain, fog, and low visibility around the area. Kauai has a very unique and impressive geography that can sometimes become hazardous. The dramatic terrain and rugged mountains make this island unpredictable, requiring close attention to whichever activity.

bad weather

Even in this dangerous condition, the pilot decided to move along and continue the ongoing tour on the northwest coast of Kauai. The investigations showed no signs of any drugs or physical conditions that could compromise his judgment. The NTSB also reported no technical problems in the helicopter, suggesting the lack of safety warnings for the pilots.

There have been roughly 80 incidents involving commercial aviation tour flights and helicopters in Hawaii since 1962. Helicopters were involved in 82 percent of the crashes. Misjudgment is not the only factor involved in helicopter crashes. The safety measures are utterly necessary, from technical revisions to weather reports.

Na Pali Coast view from helicopter

In short, bad weather conditions can be life-threatening in many situations. Therefore, weather forecasts and surveillance are elementary for any circumstances. Unfortunately, Hawaii has its share of dangerous geography. Recently, 300 people were swept away into the open sea by a strong rip current on Waikiki beach, the island’s most famous destination. In addition, enormous waves, severe thunderstorms, and even dangerous cliff diving are some of the scenarios you may encounter while traveling to Hawaii.


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