Legislators want tour industry eyed

State Sen. Gary L. Hooser, D-Kaua‘i-Ni‘ihau, introduced a resolution this week addressing procedures of the helicopter tour industry in Kaua‘i, after two fatal accidents this month and five since July 2003.

Four helicopter tour crashes happened on Kaua‘i between 1994 and 1998.

Hooser said in a prepared statement that the air tour industry is an asset to the island’s economy, non-profits, and search and rescue teams.

“However, both people in the industry and those who utilize its services deserve to expect a reliable and safe experience,” he said. “There have simply been too many helicopter accidents to ignore.”

The resolution, SCR167, aims to prevent future deaths, injuries and damages from aircraft by asking the State Department of Transportation to evaluate existing operations, research other states and tour helicopter employees, and to work with the National Transportation Safety Board, and the county for legislation to be created by the end of the year.

The DOT would coordinate with NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration to fulfill the resolution’s mandates.

The NTSB is investigating the island’s most recent crashes, the first of which was on March 8, after the hydraulics of a Heli-USA A-Star failed, and the second, an Inter Island helicopter, which crashed on March 11 in Ha‘ena. The accidents resulted in five deaths and six injuries.

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