CASE ISSUES STATEMENT FOLLOWING TOUR HELICOPTER CRASH ON KAUAI
News Release from Office of Rep Ed Case, December 27, 2019
(Honolulu, HI) - Congressman Ed Case (HI-01), home until January 6th, issued the following statement following location of the wreckage of a Kaua‘i tour helicopter:
“This is such a deep tragedy, not only for the seven lives feared lost, but that we must confront this reality in Hawai’i for the third time in just one year.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those lost, and our thanks to those who placed themselves in harm’s way to find them.
“Tour helicopter and small aircraft operations are not safe, and innocent lives are paying the price.
“We know this not only because of repeated fatal accidents and other incidents over the years, but because the National Transportation Safety Board, responsible for analyzing all such accidents, has placed safety improvements for such operations on its highest priority list. We further know that the Federal Aviation Administration, responsible for regulating our nation’s airspace, has not taken the NTSB’s concerns seriously.
“Finally, we know that the tour helicopter and small aircraft industry itself is completely incapable of self-regulation. In our Hawai’i alone, the industry, while stridently arguing that it is safe and sensitive to neighborhoods, has in fact ignored any sensible safety improvements, instead dramatically increasing in recent years its volume of flights, at all times of day and night, in seemingly all weather, over more residential neighborhoods and to more risky and remote locations, at lower altitudes, while completely failing to address ground safety and community disruption concerns.
“This is not just about the safety of our visitors. Every year thousands of tour helicopter and small aircraft flights fly thousands of flights directly over hundreds of thousands of our households, businesses, cemeteries, parks and other places throughout Hawai’i where we all live, work, play and remember our lost ones. How many more wakeup calls do we need, how much more risk and disruption must we tolerate?”
Congressman Ed Case’s Safe and Quiet Skies Act (HR 4547), introduced September 1, would impose strict safety, noise and community disruption regulations on the tour helicopter and small aircraft industry nationwide, including required FAA adoption of NTSB recommendations such as the “sterile cockpit rule” required of commercial airlines (pilots must focus only on aircraft operation and safety; no tour duties).
Case has also pursued a number of related concerns with the FAA throughout this year. Here is his December 24th report to community members updating his efforts: LINK
April, 2019: Kailua Crash Kills 3: Case, Thielen ask FAA to Ground Helicopters