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General Aviation Safety
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 in 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 (CFR) Part 91 and visual flight rules (VFR) with no flight plan filed. Instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed near the accident site.
TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Direct the Honolulu Flight Standards District Office to ensure that the annual safety meetings, as required under approved certificates of waiver or authorization, focus on pertinent and timely commercial air tour safety issues, including, but not limited to, reviews of Hawaii air tour accidents, local weather phenomena, and Special Federal Aviation Regulation 71 procedures.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Acceptable Action
Kalaheo, HI, United States
Weather Encounter and Subsequent Collision into Terrain, Bali Hai Helicopter Tours, Inc., Bell 206B, N16849
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FAA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Air Tours, Weather
Safety Recommendation History
On May 17, 2007, the FAA informed the NTSB that OpSpec B048 addresses this recommendation by requiring at least one formal commercial air tour safety meeting each year. The OpSpec requires that a 10-day advance written notice of each meeting, with agenda, be sent to the Honolulu FSDO. On December 4, 2007, the NTSB classified this recommendation Open Acceptable Response but indicated that because the OpSpec applied only to Part 135 operators, it was not clear how the FAA would apply this requirement to Part 91 operators, such as Bali Hai. With the August 15, 2008, revision to OpSpec B048, the FAA has retained the requirement for the meetings and the requirement that a 10-day advance written notice of each meeting, with agenda, be sent to the Honolulu FSDO. In its current letter, the FAA indicated that the same requirements that Part 135 operators attend an annual safety meeting, stated in OpSpec B048, are now contained in LOA B548-1, which applies to Part 91 air tour operators in Hawaii. The incorporation of this requirement in the LOA addresses the NTSB’s concern regarding application to Part 91 operators that was stated in our December 4, 2007, letter; consequently, Safety Recommendation A-07-22 is classified CLOSED—ACCEPTABLE ACTION.
Letter Mail Controlled 12/29/2008 11:35:13 AM MC# 2080751: Robert A. Sturgell, Acting Administrator, FAA, 12/2/08 The FAA has maintained, in OpSpec B048-1, the requirement for an annual safety meeting between the local FSDO and the commercial air tour operators. Additionally, the same requirement is contained in the recently revised part 91 Hawaiian Air Tour LOA (LOA B548-1) that provides for the same annual meeting requirement as cited in OpSpec B048-1. The safety meeting allows the FAA and operators the opportunity to review the latest air tour safety issues, any recommendations resulting from Hawaii air tour accidents, local weather phenomena, and previous Special Federal Aviation Regulation 71 procedures (now incorporated into 14 CFR part 136, appendix A), along with any topics related to flight below 1,500 feet above ground level. Additionally, the FAA has recently released the Hawaii Air Tour Common Procedures Manual, developed in coordination with the local Flight Standards District Office and the Hawaiian air tour operators. This procedures manual is referenced in OpSpec B048-1, as well as LOA B548-1. I believe that the FAA has effectively addressed this safety recommendation, and I consider our actions complete.
The FAA indicated that OpSpec B048 Paragraph (b)(6) addresses this recommendation by requiring at least one formal commercial air tour safety meeting each year. The OpSpec requires that a 10-day advanced written notice, with agenda, of each meeting be sent to the Honolulu FSDO, and that the agenda must include 10 specific items, including the issues addressed in this recommendation. The Safety Board believes that this change represents progress in responding to the recommendation, but the FAA must address two important concerns before Safety Recommendation A-07-22 can be closed. Because this requirement is part of an OpSpec that applies only to Part 135 operators, it is not clear how the FAA will apply this requirement to Part 91 operators like Bali Hai. The second issue of concern to the Board is based on our findings in the Bali Hai accident. During that investigation, the FAA indicated that the purpose of the safety meetings was to review SFAR 71 and sightseeing/air tour issues and procedures, and Bali Hai’s owner stated his belief that the meetings provided his pilots an opportunity to refresh their knowledge of SFAR 71 and the SFAR 71 deviation requirements. However, the investigation revealed disparity between the intent of these meetings and the actual discussion topics and follow-up discussions that occurred. A FSDO inspector stated that some past meetings had disintegrated into complaint sessions or had strayed into other topics. Many Kauai air tour pilots demonstrated a lack of understanding of their respective companies’ minimum altitudes for ridge crossings, issues that should have been addressed at the required meetings. Therefore, while dictating items that must be on the agenda, and requiring that the agenda be given to the FSDO in advance of the meeting is an improvement, the FAA needs to evaluate whether the meetings are in fact covering the topics on the agenda. In particular, the FAA needs to evaluate whether pilots who attend these meetings understand their respective companies’ minimum altitudes for ridge crossings, and other issues related to Part 136, Appendix A (which replaced SFAR 71). Pending evaluation of the effectiveness of the required meetings in OpSpec B048 (b)(6), and extension of this requirement to Part 91 commercial air tour operators, Safety Recommendation A-07-22 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
Letter Mail Controlled 5/31/2007 8:30:30 AM MC# 2070237:Marion C. Blakey, Administrator, FAA, 5/17/07 The Federal Aviation Administration believes that recently published Operations Specifications paragraph B048 dated March 9, 2007, addresses these recommendations. Below is the specific paragraph that addresses the respective safety recommendations and a copy of the Operations Specifications is enclosed. Paragraph B048(b)(6) addresses A-07-22. This paragraph addresses this recommendation by stating that there will be at least one formal commercial air tour safety meeting each 12 calendar months. As of March 15, 2007 SFAR 71 no longer exists but its content is now located in 14 CFR part 136 and is referred to as part 136, Appendix A. I believe that the FAA has satisfactorily responded to these safety recommendations, and I look forward to your response.
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