Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Crash: Photo Tells the (Same Old) Story?

The NTSB blamed the pilot for the last Blue Hawaiian helicopter crash into the side of a mountain. The NTSB concluded that while flying near bad weather, the pilot inadvertently entered clouds, became disoriented, and lost control of the helicopter. According to the NTSB, the probable cause of the accident was:

The pilot's inadequate decision by which he continued visual flight rules flight into instrument meteorological conditions. Also causal was his failure to maintain terrain clearance resulting in a collision with mountainous terrain. A contributing factor was the low ceiling.

One need only look at the low clouds in the photo taken shortly after TBy Joey Salamon/Molokai Dispatchhursday's Blue Hawaiian crash on Molokai to wonder if weather and pilot decision-making played a similar role in this latest crash. 

Hawaii’s micro-weather makes helicopter tours dangerous. We've written about it before here, and hereSpoken about it too.  Yet, year after year, tour operators opt to collect the fares and fly when weather conditions dictate that they really should stay on the ground.

Did the pilot involved in Thursday's crash try to squeeze his Eurocopter between the weather and the terrain and lose control?  Time will tell whether this accident should be added to the list of crashes caused by "improper VFR."  But without significant changes in the industry, Hawaiian tourists will continue to lose their lives in completely avoidable weather-related helicopter accidents. 

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Comments (2) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Gene - November 13, 2011 7:30 PM

Unfortunately, this trend is also very prevalent in the Helicopter EMS industry.

Without passing judgement on the latest Blue Hawaiian accident, I will say that until someone comes up with a fool-proof formula for teaching sound aeronautical decision making skills, this trend will continue ad infinitum.

Glen Norman - November 26, 2011 9:23 AM

In the interest of safety and protection of the public, the operators of aircraft carrying tourists in possible inadvertant IFR or MVFR conditions should be required to equip their aircraft and use the available technolgy that provides simulated visual display of terrain. As an instrument rated pilot, I was concerned about how close our pilot was taking us to the ground and low clouds on a recent helicopter tour of Maui.

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