Hawaii Helicopter Tour Accidents
Over the last three decades, the helicopter tour industry has exploded across Hawaii - with many sightseeing helicopter companies offering visitors a thrilling and easy way to see many of the state's natural wonders, from dramatic waterfalls to sheer cliffs to active volcanoes. However, while an estimated 400,000 visitors and tourists elect to see the island from a bird's eye view each year, the adventure comes with significant risks.
Since 1994, an estimated 40 people have died in sightseeing helicopter crashes in Hawaii and even more have been seriously injured in tour copter accidents. In many cases, those that elect to go on Hawaii helicopter tours are not aware of the dangers of their trip. These crashes have a number of causes:
- Pilot error, pilot negligence, and pilot inexperience
- Flying too low over scenic areas
- Ignoring poor weather conditions, such as high winds or fog
- Ignoring state and federal helicopter safety regulations
- Faulty helicopter design
- Defective helicopter parts
- A lack of proper helicopter maintenance
- Tour companies taking on heavy loads of passengers
In 1994, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued new emergency safety regulations for Hawaii tour helicopters after six serious crashes occurred in just six months. These new rules required pilots to maintain minimum altitudes, carry flotation devices for passengers, and construct performance plans before flights. However, a recent study published in the journal Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine found that although the total number of Hawaii helicopters has decreased in recent years, the overall number of helicopter crash fatalities has remained static.
At Trecker & Frtiz, Attorneys at Law, we have decades of experience dealing with sightseeing helicopter crashes throughout Hawaii. With offices located in Honolulu, Hawaii, we are dedicated to finding justice for the victims and families of those who have been harmed or killed while visiting Hawaii. While some tour helicopter accidents are just that - accidents - others could have been prevented if not for the negligence of the sightseeing company, the helicopter pilot, or the helicopter manufacturer. Partner Allen Williams is an experienced pilot and has been involved in many Hawaii airline lawsuits involving injury and death.
Here are just a few Hawaii helicopter tour accidents that have taken place recently across the state:
- In March 2007, an investigation found that malfunctioning hydraulics were to blame in a sightseeing helicopter crash that killed four people and seriously injured three in Kauai.
- Also in March 2007, one person was killed and three people were critically injured on a Smoky Mountain Helicopter Tour - Police believe a mechanical issues was to blame for the pilot losing control of the aircraft.
- On Christmas Day in 2005, a tour helicopter out of Hanapepe, Hawaii crashed killing one person. The aircraft crashed into De Mello reservoir.
- In 2004, a Bali Hai Helicopter Tour aircraft crashed in a remote area of Kapalaoa Pointat while carrying five passengers. The helicopter crashed into a near-vertical cliff during the tour.
If you have been harmed in a Hawaii helicopter tour accident, or if a loved one has been killed in a helicopter tour accident, talk to a knowledgeable attorney today.