On December 26, 2019, seven more people, including three children, lost their lives in a tour helicopter crash. This crash occurred on the Na Pali Coast of Kauai, Hawaii. All six passengers and the pilot were killed. The tour helicopter was an Airbus A350 BA operated by Safari Helicopters.
The Safari Helicopter crash was the 10th tour helicopter crash in Hawaii over the last 10 years, resulting in 38 deaths. Colleagues of Wisner Law Firm, Stewarts Law in London, represented the family of a victim of a March 2007 Heli USA tour helicopter crash in Kauai. That crash also was of an Airbus AS 350 helicopter and claimed the lives of four persons while injuring three others.
Moreover, the problem of tour helicopter crashes is not confined to Hawaii. Wisner Law Firm, together with its colleagues at Stewarts Law in London, represented 4 deceased passengers and 1 badly injured passenger in claims arising from the crash of a Papillon Airways tour helicopter in the Grand Canyon in Arizona on February 10, 2018. That helicopter was another Airbus helicopter, an EC 130-B4.
These tour helicopter crashes generally have resulted from a combination of causes, such as faulty maintenance in the 2007 Heli USA Kauai crash and pilot error and a defectively-designed fuel tank in the Papillon Grand Canyon crash. The Safari Helicopter crash is reported to be a Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) which raises the question of whether the helicopter was equipped with an Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) and, if so, whether that system gave a timely alert of approaching terrain.
The major issue, however, is whether tours by helicopter are safe. The number and frequency of fatal tour helicopter crashes is alarming and these numbers have not decreased despite promises of greater government oversight. Wisner Law firm echoes the calls of others for greater regulation of operators and manufacturers.