A Hawaii tour helicopter made a hard landing today, Thursday, March 5, 2020, and rolled over in a lava field. The incident happened just before 12:00 noon on the Big Island of Hawaii near Leilani Estates.
None of the 8 people on board suffered major injuries.
The helicopter operator Blue Hawaiian Helicopters issued this statement:
“On March 5, a Blue Hawaiian aircraft was in flight near the Leilani Estates area when the pilot conducted a precautionary landing. The helicopter had launched from the Hilo base on the “Circle of Fire” tour. The five passengers on board and the pilot are safe.
“The safety of our passengers and pilot are our always top priority, and the pilot’s decision to safely land the aircraft is always the right decision. Local emergency services were called, and we have notified the FAA and NTSB. We are committed to working closely with both the FAA and NTSB.”
Ian Gregor with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said a Eurocopter EC130 departed from Hilo International Airport when the problems occurred about 17 miles southeast of that town.
Fire Department Battalion Chief William Bergin told the AP that “the pilot had to set the aircraft down” because an indicator light showed a problem with the tail rotor. It was not clear if the helicopter crashed or made a forced landing.
A fire department rescue helicopter and police and paramedics responded at the scene. Gregor said the FAA would investigate the incident.
After previous helicopter crashes, Hawaii Senator Ed Case said the following: “Tour helicopter and small aircraft operations are not safe, and innocent lives are paying the price. In our Hawaii alone, the industry, while stridently arguing that it is safe and sensitive to neighborhoods, has in fact ignored any sensible safety improvements, instead dramatically increasing in recent years its volume of flights, at all times of day and night, in seemingly all-weather over more residential neighborhoods and to more risky and remote locations, at lower altitudes, while completely failing to address ground safety and community disruption concerns.”