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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation A-07-024
Details
Synopsis: 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.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Develop and enforce safety standards for all commercial air tour operations that include, at a minimum, initial and recurrent pilot training programs that address local geography and meteorological hazards and special airspace restrictions; maintenance policies and procedures; flight scheduling that fosters adequate breaks and flight periods (as established by the implementation of Safety Recommendation A-07-20); and operations specifications that address management, procedures, route specifications, and altitude restrictions, as necessary.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Unacceptable Action
Mode: Aviation
Location: Kalaheo, HI, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: LAX04FA329
Accident Reports: Weather Encounter and Subsequent Collision into Terrain, Bali Hai Helicopter Tours, Inc., Bell 206B, N16849
Report #: AAR-07-03
Accident Date: 9/24/2004
Issue Date: 2/27/2007
Date Closed: 9/13/2012
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FAA (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Air Tours, Training and Education, Weather

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 9/13/2012
Response: We acknowledge that the FAA’s National Air Tour Safety Standards Final Rule, published on February 13, 2007, establishes some national air tour safety standards in Part 136, subpart A; however, the regulation does not contain provisions that would prevent the types of deficiencies highlighted by this accident. Specifically, for Part 91 air tour operations, the new letter of authorization and Part 136 requirements do not provide for mandatory FAA oversight. Nor does the final rule incorporate, for all air tour operations, the recommended initial and recurrent pilot training programs that address local geography and meteorological hazards, and special airspace restrictions; maintenance policies and procedures; flight scheduling that fosters adequate breaks and flight periods; or operations specifications that address management, procedures, route specifications, and altitude restrictions. We continue to believe that a regulation specific to commercial air tour operations that establishes safety standards in the areas recommended is needed and would allow FAA inspectors responsible for air tour operators to focus on the daily safety requirements unique to those operations. However, because the FAA indicated that its actions are complete and it will take no additional action to address Safety Recommendation A-07-24, this recommendation is classified CLOSED—UNACCEPTABLE ACTION.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 5/18/2012
Response: -From Michael P. Huerta, Acting Administrator: Issues identified in this recommendation were partly addressed when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published on February 13, 2007, the National Air Tour Safety Standards Final Rule (72 FR 6884). Under this final rule, 14 CFR Part 136—Commercial Air Tours and National Parks Air Tour Management, provides a set of standards for commercial air tour operations. Additional issues are addressed by existing regulations and restrictions, and noted below. Any aircraft used in commercial operation, including all commercial air tour operations, is subject to 100-hour inspections or progressive inspections as approved by the FAA Administrator. While existing part 135 rules limit flight duty time and impose rest requirements, certain operations are not subject to part 135 rules. Non-stop passenger carrying commercial air tour flights that (1) begin and end at the same airport and (2) are conducted within a 25-statue mile radius of that airport, are governed by section 91.147. Part 91 does not impose flight duty hours or rest requirements on these flights. However, with respect to the potential for abusive duty day and flight time practices among section 91.147 operators, natural restrictions already exist due to the nature of the tour operating environment. Generally, (1) air tours are viable only during VFR daylight conditions, and (2) other part 136 requirements limit part 91 air tours conducted over National Park Units to no more than 5 flights in a 30-day period. Because the vast majority of high-volume air tour activity is covered by part 135, part 136, or by these natural limitations, we are not considering additional regulatory restrictions at this time. In addition to the safety standards required by part 136, we require part 91 operators to participate in an approved drug and alcohol testing program equivalent to the one for part 135 air tour operators. Furthermore, in areas of dense air tour activity the FAA established operations specifications (OpsSpecs) for part 135 operators, and letters of authorization (LOA) for part 91 operators. The OpsSpecs and LOAs require compliance with common procedures manuals that outline specific areas of authorization, mandatory reporting points, routes, and altitude restrictions. Tour operator compliance with specific pilot training requirements includes cue-based training for weather hazard identification and mitigation that may be unique for that area of operation. I believe that the FAA has effectively addressed this safety recommendation with the publication of the National Air Tour Safety Standards Final Rule, along with existing regulations. Therefore, I consider our actions complete.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 12/4/2007
Response: The FAA responded that the Honolulu FSDO revised OpSpec B048 for its assigned commercial air tour operators to address the issues discussed in this recommendation. The Safety Board notes that the intent of this recommendation was for the establishment and enforcement of national standards, not just for one FSDO, and for the application of these standards to both Part 91 and Part 135 commercial air tour flights. Therefore, the FAA, in describing the development by a single FSDO of a set of OpSpecs that apply only to Part 135 commercial air tour operators, has not responded to this recommendation. Pending the development and implementation of national safety standards for both Part 91 and Part 135 commercial air tour operators, Safety Recommendation A-07-24 is classified OPEN -- UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 5/17/2007
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 5/31/2007 8:30:30 AM MC# 2070237: - From Marion C. Blakey, Administrator: 5/17/07 The Honolulu Flight Standards District Office revised Operations Specifications B048 for its assigned commercial air tour operators. It includes initial and recurrent pilot training programs that address local geography and meteorological hazards and special airspace restrictions; flight scheduling that fosters adequate breaks and flight periods (as established by the implementation of Safety Recommendation A-07-20); and operations specifications that address management, procedures, route specifications, and altitude restrictions, as necessary.