Hawaii Tour Helicopter Missing 12/26

Discussion in 'Aviation Mishaps' started by Kenny Phillips, Dec 27, 2019.

  1. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

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  2. Stewartb

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    Hopefully they had a tracker so they have an idea where to start looking. That's a mighty big ocean. Prayers.
     
  3. brien23

    brien23 Cleared for Takeoff

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    I thought the FAA cracked down on the Tour operators and cleaned up the Helicopter mishap that Hawaii had. The Hawaii Tour Helicopter was reported missing after 45 min late getting back, the Coast Guard said "weather conditions in the search area are challenging with low visibility and blustery winds". With the mind set of the FAA right now things are not going to go well for Helicopter Tour operators. I hope for the best for the 7 people on the Helicopter but with no emergency signals or sight of the helicopter I fear the worst.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2019
  4. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    Sometimes accidents are just accidents.
     
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  5. DavidWhite

    DavidWhite Final Approach

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    Profit drives safety in most 135 operations. It sucks, but until the FAA starts coming down really hard on operators/management and not line pilots nothing will change.
     
  6. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    The weather conditions don't sound like a problem for an A-Star, which is what most of the operators are using. I've been on a couple of heli tours there in worse conditions than what this flight had. No big deal. There was probably more to it than weather. There usually is.
     
  7. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Cleared for Takeoff

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    Air tours operate under Part 136.
     
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  8. Bell206

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    They did, but don't confuse them with the EMS side which usually gets more press. Two completely different ops. As to the weather, this would be par for this time of year in Hawaii which is the height of the tourist season.
     
  9. brien23

    brien23 Cleared for Takeoff

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    It's not just Air Tours the Mecical Helicopter and part 135 operations also have a history of crash in somewhat questionable weather. Operators / Management have a bottom line, if they do not make money they are out. Everybody says Safety in number one in reality its the buck, without the $$$ their is no Helicopter Tour operation or Medical Helicopter operation. Don't get me started on the Military doing life saving operations for local government for free, they the Military can and should bill the locals for the cost.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2019
  10. Kenny Phillips

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    ADS-B, at least, though coverage could be spotty in some places (unlike Canada, which is moving to sat tracking).
     
  11. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member

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    Two threads about this subject were merged.
     
  12. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    ha! I was just there on the Na Pali coast a few weeks ago.. I couldn't believe the conditions these guys were flying in

    Aren't many "common" helicopters not even IMC capable? When we were there recently we took a drive to Waimea Canyon, it was windy, pouring rain, with a thick cloud deck and much of the canyon obscured, you could see two or three heli's at a time going up and down the canyon, in and out of the clouds, etc. I was amazed.
     
  13. Kenny Phillips

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    Most helicopters are VFR, but the daytime visual rules for helicopters are much less stringent: 1/2 mile vis, clear of clouds.
     
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  14. dbahn

    dbahn Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yikes. My first helicopter flight was there, and I really enjoyed the flight and the scenery. My bride of one day elected not to go because of a head cold.

    When we got home we learned that the same helicopter I rode in had subsequently crashed with one or two fatalities, apparently due to a tail rotor failure. My wife would have been married to me for about a day if the timing had been a little different . . .
     
  15. Stewartb

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  16. denverpilot

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    Isn’t just in aviation. Like Mike Rowe says, “Safety Third!”

    All sorts of regular jobs are stupidly dangerous for no good reason, but if we made them perfectly safe nobody could afford to get it done.

    That said, killing tourists gets more attention than the guys putting on your new roof without safety harnesses... even on houses without the newfangled peak anchors, sticking a boom truck above the house with fall harnesses wouldn’t be all that difficult. Etc.
     
  17. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    Killing tourists? Seriously? What a D-bag comment. A pilot died, too.

    Prayers to all their survivors.
     
  18. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    What was wrong about it? Helicopter tour flights killing people get headlines and all sorts of politicians saying they’ll fix it... but you find out they’re pushing weather or even better, doing those “doors off” things over NYC with safety harnesses from Home Depot. The regulations and regulators were supposedly watching all of them the whole time. It’s a decades old pattern.

    The culture of tour stuff and low end charter stuff has always been sketchy compared to air carrier stuff. This isn’t really news to anyone. It’s just basic economics. Which is exactly what Mr. Rowe’s commentary is about all industries.

    Let’s not pretend we all think “Oh! A charter tour flight! These operators have decades of better safety stats than airlines!” Nobody thinks that. Passengers deserve that, but the industry as a whole hasn’t accomplished it yet. May never.

    Whether or not we will feel bad about the pilot will hinge on whether they flew beyond the capabilities of the aircraft or themselves or the aircraft failed them. But with tour accidents the stats aren’t in favor of it being an aircraft failure.

    For whatever reasons complacency sneaks in when tourists and tour flights are involved. Safety is compromised more often than it should be. Just an observation over a really long period of time.

    DW lives and works where there is one of the highest densities of light charter and tourism flights in the country. If he says regulators need to hammer bad operators, he’s probably right. My add on was simply that at the low end of any industry you see this. A few missed jobs, the company faces bankruptcy. So there’s a built in conflict of interest.

    Or as Mr. Rowe puts it, Safety Third.
     
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  19. Stephen Poole

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  20. Bell206

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    I don't know the particulars of your personal observation of the helicopter tour industry, but considering I've assisted on a number of TOPS audits any complacency or compromises of safety usually boil down to a specific individual and not the entire tour industry. It's no different than any other operational facet (91, 135, 121) of the aviation industry.
     
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  21. JOhnH

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    So with all due respect, in your mind, one d-bag comment deserves another.
    But I saw nothing douchy in Nates comment.
     
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  22. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    Killing tourists implies intent. Tourists died.
     
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  23. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Ok, I see your point. And out of respect for the deceased, I won't say any more about that. It was a tragic day regardless of the cause.
     
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  24. Tantalum

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    When I was in Kauai a few weeks ago three different times I heard people talking about how adventurous the NaPali coast heli tours were.. rumors of flying under and through archways, doen very narrow canyons, landing off site somewhere, skimming close along treetops and very near canyon walls, etc

    these are geared more as adventure tours.. in the same vein as zip lining or bungee jumping..

    and from what I saw, we were on top of the Waimea Canyon with helicopters under us visibly flying in and out of clouds.. with two or three different choppers in the canyon, nuts

    Hell, the people who gave us the NaPali Coast boat tour where are the most full of heli stories, going so far as to say recently the FAA shut one down and they rebranded and repackaged and are now doing tours in the Grand Canyon


    I'm with Nate.. the average person going out one of these adventure tours has a very reasonable expectation that they are going to be safe.. and while maybe there is not murderous intent, if you knowingly skirt the edge of what's reasonable and safe then you're also putting tourists lives at stake, and yes killing people including tourists and pilots
     
  25. denverpilot

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    It does not. It’s simply what they did. If you go to Disney and ride the ride and don’t come home, that’s what people say.

    If you haven’t seen Mr. Rowe’s video on Safety Third and take my comment without that context it probably looks harsher than it is.

    If someone knows how to make tourism flying intrinsically safe, I’m sure everyone here is all ears. The problem is, when the bills are stacking up, many operators won’t care.

    Just grab some Home Depot harnesses. Those quick release aviation ones cost more. Ya know?

    We all know this in the back of our heads. The heli disappearing in the ocean is a lot less shocking than a Malaysian airliner.

    Just how it goes in tourist flying. Economics of it is hard.
     
  26. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I think it’s a bit early to draw any conclusions on safety culture or any other factors that could have contributed to this accident.

    I heard in the radio today that it was Safari’s first tour accident ever in over 30 years of operations. Don’t know if that’s true or not, but they seem to have had a good safety record and a culture that revolves around safety.

    http://www.aloha-hawaii.com/things-to-do/activities/helicopter/crashes/

    https://www.safarihelicopters.com/about/safety-practices/
     
  27. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Aviation of any type is not a risk free activity.
    Managing the risks is what the arguments usually revolve around.
    The probability of an accident remains quite low (otherwise no sane person would get into a plane or helicopter). The consequences, however, are almost always very high.
     
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  28. Bell206

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    And you know this from personal experience or did you read this on the internet? I guess you've never heard of TOPS or USHST/IHST? They've been working on helicopter safety issues for a spell and have been successful to the point where general aviation helicopter ops, which includes air tours and EMS, have a lower accident rate than any comparative general aviation fixed-wing ops--commercial or non-commercial. So your implication helicopter air tours are a statistical outlier is not true unless I missed the context of your comments.

    As to the OP accident, what I find amazing is that you were able to deduce from one media comment of "challenging weather"--for search and rescue perhaps-- and another media comment that the wreckage was located, that some how Mike Rowe's safety video, air tour economics, excessive bills, and an operator that does not care were central to the cause of this helicopter's accident... o_O
     
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  29. denverpilot

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    I didn’t “deduce” anything. I said the economy of your flights that are generally unnecessary and cheap is tough to meet the safety standards people expect of thrill rides. And there will always be bad operators.

    Does every operator participate in those programs? Are the passengers notified of who does and who doesn’t? Honest questions. I don’t know.

    My personal experience is two unnecessary tourist flights. One very expensive and flown by a highly experienced ex military pilot. The other in a sketchy Cessna with a pilot half my age who was shall we say, a semi-pro time builder.
     
  30. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    Not necessarily. Most larger tour operators have 135 certs which give no option to meeting the required safety standards. They either do or they get busted. Bad operators aside, most of the issues are still at the individual level which unfortunately is the hardest to contain regardless if helicopter tours, air taxi or air carrier ops or mx.
    No. Just as with any industry advocacy group not everyone tend to all follow the same leader. But not being associated with one of the groups doesn't necessarily mean the operator is any less safe. Quite the opposite in some cases. There are other adv groups, but as a whole when events impact the tour industry they collectively circle the wagons and speak they're minds. This was most evident when Part 136 went through the comment phase and received over 2300 comments.
    Yes on who is a member and no, if not a member. These groups/associations were never meant as a marketing tool, rather for internal means only.
     
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  31. denverpilot

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    Like the one using Home Depot harnesses and drowned their passengers did?

    I’m just calling it like it is. Rules only work on people who don’t have other motivations. Enforcement is rare.

    Most bad operators go bankrupt before someone catches them doing stuff like that. Or they’d have been caught.
     
  32. Bell206

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    Well, call like it is then. The NY Astar accident was operated as a Part 91 ops, not a Part 135 ops.There were no Part 91 requirements on the supplemental full-body harnesses the pax wore. So zero 135 enforcement requirements.

    We both agree there are "bad operators." Here's a prime example of a "bad operator." But your comment most "bad operators" go bankrupt before they get caught is pure BS. The company involved with this accident is still in business, believe it or not, since they did not violate any regulation for a part 91 ops, which I think is pure BS also. Perhaps the civil side will take care of this operator, but for now they still fly under a different banner and operator. However, the FAA did step up and put out an Order that prohibited flights with supplemental restraints that were not quick-release:
    https://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Order/FAA_Order_8900.4.pdf
     
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  33. denverpilot

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    So which tourists know what a 91 and a 121 are? LOL. All they know is “helicopter, ooh shiny”.

    You guys kinda keep making my point.
     
  34. Bell206

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    FWIW: that's what I keep trying to figure out, what is your point?: that helicopter air tour operators don't care about safety when the profits dry up, or... the unsuspecting flying public doesn't know the difference between a 91 or 121 operation? Or....??
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2019
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  35. Kenny Phillips

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    Heck, even the type of operation (under 14 CFR 91/121/135) doesn't automatically make it more or less safe. The mindset of the operation ('culture') has a lot to do with it. Some operators will require two pilots in one-pilot-certified aircraft. Some won't fly in marginal but legal weather. Others will take on anyone that shows up, at any time. Some may have one accident that colors or destroys a good operation. Others may operate on the shady side for a decade, relying on luck, before something bites them. Or they simply may go under, despite their cost-cutting, without a single incident.
    Personally, I won't go on any tour flight unless I'm flying. That means I won't likely see as much when I visit friends on the Big Island later this year, but I'm OK with that.
     
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  36. Bell206

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    Agree. But what's unfortunate is that it's usually only one or a couple individuals that have a "culture" problem that cause most the issues regardless how good or bad the operator is. It's also unfortunate that while most others around these culturally challenged individuals would like to intervene they can't/won't due to their own personal situations.
     
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  37. denverpilot

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    That the public thinks they’re all the same. So while the industry Alphabet Soup sounds nice on paper, the public does not care if a Part 91 or 135 operator kills them. It’s only meaningful on an aviation forum.

    Nor does it change my original broader point that doesn’t rely on statistical games based on the broader concept that the economics of low end tour rides means it’ll always be a risky endeavor to climb aboard compared to other commercial aviation types. Which is all I said.

    Barnstorming for hours and experience is still a thing, wrapped in a sheen of rules that aren’t enforced. No amount of hand waving is going to make that go away.

    It’s certainly nice that some try to do it right. Some always won’t and the public won’t be truly protected from them.

    Safety Third will continue for my lifetime. The public wants cheap thrill rides. They have no idea what it costs to do it correctly.

    The only good news is, math. You can’t make it up in volume so bankruptcy happens quicker than enforcement most of the time.
     
  38. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I’d be willing to bet that the typical tourist realizes that riding in a single engine, single pilot helicopter has more risk than the airliner they took across the Pacific to get there. It’s only common sense that you can’t put that kind of equipment, training and redundancy in an aircraft intended for a simple VFR sight seeing trip.
     
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  39. denverpilot

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    Most of the tourist helis aren’t single engine. Not ones I would get in, anyway.

    And again proves my point anyway. Why should they feel any less safe than in any other aircraft if tourist flights (supposedly) have a better safety record than any other GA heli flying? (Not my words, the claim made above.)

    I suspect some small number know the risk and a much larger number think they’re just hopping in a Disney teacup. Not many are prepared for a water dunking. Definitely not the drunk ones who should’ve been told they can’t fly today in that condition under “the rules”.

    (The pilot even joked about that one in the NY thing.)

    That said the drunk ones and open toed shoes or stilettos “enjoying” their six inches of room for their knees on an Airbus aren’t exactly prepared for an evacuation either.

    But load ‘em up. Only $199 round trip 3000 miles away!

    Economics is a bitch. Even at the price above a typical airline ticket to anywhere that we paid when we flew with the solid operator we went with, it takes a lot of flights to pay for a $3+M machine. And that operator has had fatals. I believe the machine we flew in has been wrecked since then. Don’t think it was a fatal but haven’t checked tail numbers.

    18 crashes in 5 years in Hawaii overall. Not great.
     
  40. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Nate you’re kind of all over the place here. Your comments earlier were comparing a 135/136 helicopter tour operation to a 121 airline operation. There is no comparison and understandably so. That was what my reply was to, not about comparing typical GA flying to helicopter tours.

    And there aren’t more twins doing tours over singles. In fact, I looked at every tour operator’s webpage in Hawaii and all of them use single engine B206, B407, Astar, EC130 and Hughes 500 aircraft. Not sure why you wouldn’t ride in one of those but you’d ride in a SE piston airplane. I’d trust the turbine RR engine above my head in a helo more than my piston engine of an airplane. I’d also take engine failure in a helo any day over an airplane.
     
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