NTSB Identification: LAX04FA329.
The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
Accident occurred Friday, September 24, 2004 in Kalaheo, HI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/26/2007
Aircraft: Bell 206B, registration: N16849
Injuries: 5 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The Safety Board adopted the final report of this accident investigation, including the analysis and probable cause, on February 13, 2007. The Safety Board's full report will be available soon at http://ntsb.gov/Publictn/publictn.htm. The Aviation Accident Report number is NTSB/AAR-07/03.

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On September 24, 2004, about 1642 Hawaiian standard time, a Bell 206B helicopter, N16849, registered to and operated by Bali Hai Helicopter Tours, Inc., of Hanapepe, Hawaii, impacted mountainous terrain in Kalaheo, Hawaii, on the island of Kauai, 8.4 miles northeast of Port Allen Airport, Hanapepe. The commercial pilot and the four passengers were killed, and the helicopter was destroyed by impact forces and postimpact fire. The nonstop sightseeing air tour flight was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 and visual flight rules with no flight plan filed. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed near the accident site.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the pilot's decision to continue flight under visual flight rules into an area of turbulent, reduced visibility weather conditions, which resulted in the pilot's spatial disorientation and loss of control of the helicopter. Contributing to this accident was the pilot's inexperience in assessing local weather conditions, inadequate Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) surveillance of Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) 71 operating restrictions, and the operator's pilot-scheduling practices that likely had an adverse impact on pilot decision-making and performance.

The safety issues discussed in this report include the influence of pilot experience and operator scheduling on in-flight decision-making; the lack of FAA oversight of Part 91 air tour operators; the need for national air tour safety standards; and the lack of direct FAA surveillance of commercial air tour operators in Hawaii.

Nine safety recommendations are addressed to the FAA regarding local weather-training programs for newly hired Hawaii air tour pilots; evaluation of operational practices for commercial air tour helicopter pilots; Honolulu Flight Standards District Office control of the annual safety meetings, as required under approved certificates of waiver or authorization; evaluation of the safety impact of the altitude restrictions in the State of Hawaii; national air tour safety standards; and the potential benefits of automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast technology for Hawaii air tour operators.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot's decision to continue flight under visual flight rules into an area of turbulent, reduced visibility weather conditions, which resulted in the pilot's spatial disorientation and loss of control of the helicopter. Contributing to this accident was the pilot's inexperience in assessing local weather conditions, inadequate Federal Aviation Administration surveillance of Special Federal Aviation Regulation 71 operating restrictions, and the operator's pilot-scheduling practices that likely had an adverse impact on pilot decision-making and performance.

Full narrative available

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