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Case Statement on Preliminary Report on Last Month's Fatal Tour Helicopter Crash on Kaua’i

Washington, January 15, 2020

(Honolulu, HI) - Congressman Ed Case (HI-01) today issued the following statement on the National Transportation Safety Board’s Aviation Accident Preliminary Report issued today on the December 26, 2019, Airbus AS350 B2 tour helicopter crash on Kaua‘i that claimed the lives of all 7 onboard:

“The rapidly mounting loss of life and ground risks from Hawai‘i air tour helicopter/small aircraft crashes, most immediately 21 killed in three accidents in 2019 alone, should be tragedy enough and spark unanimous concern for the basic safety of these operations.

“The National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) preliminary report and related information on the December 26th Kaua‘i crash should only add to these concerns.

“A pilot flying his eighth 50-minute tour in one day. Without instrument certification and flying in a rough and variable terrain, rapidly changing weather environment, on visual flight rules only (solely what he could see). According to a close-by witness and other observations, probably in ‘20 ft visibility in rain and fog.’ No flight tracking equipment aboard.

“All this on top of 54 NTSB-investigated tour helicopter/small aircraft accidents across the country in just the past five years, of which fully nine (17% of all accidents nationally) occurred in Hawai‘i.

“Yet the air tour helicopter and small aircraft industry buries its head in the sand, claims all is well and refuses to acknowledge any concern or need to change. Compounded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is supposed to be ensuring safety, claiming that there is no reason to suspect any general industry concern.

“The tragedy is not only the loss of life but the industry’s position, apparently supported by the FAA, that current regulation is sufficient. That is an open invitation to further tragedies that very well might strike not only those in the air by the million-plus on the ground that they fly over repeatedly every day.”

Note: Congressman Case introduced his “Safe and Quiet Skies Act” last year calling for strict regulations on commercial air tour operations to include helicopters and small planes.

The act would direct the FAA, which has virtually exclusive jurisdiction over such aircraft, to adopt tighter safety recommendations long advanced by the NTSB.

Attachments:

-      NTSB Aviation Accident Preliminary Report

-      Section by section summary of the “Safe and Quiet Skies Act”

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