One of the world’s leading aviation lawyers says a recent warning by US Congressman Ed Case declaring “tour helicopters are not safe”, should be heeded because, “the frequency of fatal tour helicopter crashes is alarming.”
Floyd Wisner of Chicago-based Wisner Law Firm said the crash of an Airbus A350 BA tour helicopter operated by Safari Helicopters in Hawaii on December 26 was the tenth tour helicopter crash in the state over the last ten years, resulting in 38 deaths.
The most recent crash occurred on the Na Pali Coast of Kauai and resulted in the death of all six passengers and the pilot.
“It is clear that promises of greater government oversight have not been fulfilled, and that there is now an urgent need for a review of the industry and greater regulation of operators and manufacturers,” Mr Wisner said.
He revealed that in 2007, colleagues of his firm, Stewarts Law in London, represented the family of a victim of another 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.”
He said the problem of tour helicopter crashes is not confined to Hawaii.
Wisner Law Firm, together with its colleagues at Stewarts Law in London, represented four deceased passengers and one 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.
Mr Wisner said 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 recent 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 question is whether tours by helicopter are safe. The congressman from Hawaii doesn’t appear to think so and many agree.”