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 Thursday’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 here. Spoken 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.