Copter investigations continue in Wash., D.C.

Parts from both helicopters that crashed on-island earlier this month are in the possession of the National Transportation Safety Board’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., spokesman Keith Holloway said yesterday.

That is the most up-to-date information the NTSB has released on its two investigations into the accidents that happened within four days of each other. The first fatal accident happened in Princeville on March 8 and the second in Ha‘ena on March 11.

Both helicopter tour companies operated the flights under Part 135 commercial air tour regulations, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said. Under Part 91, pilots can only fly within 25 miles of an airport and must fly without stops. That section deals primarily with private pilots, while Part 135 is a more stringent set of rules for commercial tours, Gregor said.

“Part 135 has additional certification training requirements,” he added, noting that the FAA plans to roll out more requisites for Part 91 in the near future.

“We’re going to be making Part 91 operators comply with more rules than 135 operators have had to comply with,” he said.

According to NTSB’s preliminary report, the pilot of the second crash said his preflight inspection revealed all parts to be “normal,” noting it operated properly on two flights earlier that day.

The pilot also is quoted in the NTSB report as stating that within a split-second he heard two loud “bangs” and he “felt it” in his seat and pedals. After the nose of the helicopter pitched down and the helicopter yawed to the right, he applied the left pedal without effect. In an attempt to “get more forward airspeed,” the helicopter nosed over. Then he realized that he “lost his tail rotor,” the report states.

The rotor was found in the ocean and is now in the possession of the NTSB for inspection.

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