Senators Seek Ban on Commercial Helicopters Over Residential Areas
Four Hawaiʻi State Senators sent a letter to the State Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration, calling for an immediate statewide grounding of tour and commercial helicopter operations until an investigation into Monday’s fatal crash of a tour helicopter in Kailua can be completed. Another alternative they suggested was to ban all commercial helicopter flights over residential neighborhoods.
Senators Stanley Chang (District 9), Jarrett Keohokalole (District 24), Gil Riviere (District 23), and Laura Thielen (District 25) signed the letter, stating, “As elected officials it is our responsibility to protect our constituents.” The site of Monday’s crash was located in Senate District 25.
Monday’s incident, in which three people died, was the second helicopter crash in the District since an October 22, 2018 incident that left three people severely injured. Another helicopter crashed in Windward Oʻahu in a gully at Sacred Falls State Park less than two weeks ago. That helicopter was under contract to the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife was ferrying workers to deploy seabird song meters, which record bird sounds for population studies.
“Residents throughout our State have long complained about the lack of flight plans and rules regulating commercial and tour helicopters,” the letter said. “Concerns vary from general annoyance to fears of aircraft falling from the sky. Today our worst fears were realized.”