This week, aviation accident attorneys from across the country met on Maui to discuss current topics in aviation law. This was part of the American Association of Justice’s Winter Convention. I was honored to have been asked to speak. My talk was on Hawaii helicopter crash litigation — a topic with which we are — unfortunately — perhaps too familiar.
I covered the profits, accident statistics, the poor safety record, lack of insurance, the popular equipment (including the Eurocopter AStar); and the FAA’s unfortunate lack of heli-tour industry oversight. Powerpoint available here.
As it turns out, my presentation was a bit controversial. The tour industry was a sponsor of the convention. And I ripped into it. On the flight back to San Francisco, someone asked me whether that made me uncomfortable, given that AAJ actually promoted the tours. In fact, the blogosphere was chiming in about it before I even spoke. Carter Wood, blogging on PointofLaw.com, questions the appropriateness of my topic:
That’s the way you pay back Hawaii’s hospitality? ‘Fly like a tropical bird, and then sue!’
First, the risks are, for the most part, unknown. Unknown to people travelling to Hawaii, and unknown even to the AAJ, a group which is, generally speaking, keenly aware of industries that place profits over consumer safety. Thus, the title, "Under the Radar."
Second, I want to get the word out. It’s too important. Too many people’s lives have been torn apart by this industry. I really don’t care what “sponsors” I offend.