NTSB Investigative Update on Kauai Helicopter Crash


NTSB investigators are studying developing plans to soon recover the wreckage of the air tour helicopter that crashed on the Hawaiian island of Kauai last week.
On December 26, at approximately 4:57 p.m. local time, an Airbus AS350 B2 helicopter, registration number N985SA, collided with terrain about 24 miles northwest of Lihue, Hawaii. The helicopter impacted a ridge at an altitude of 2,900 feet, then fell approximately 100 feet. A post-crash fire consumed much of the aircraft. The helicopter’s commercial pilot and six passengers were killed.
The helicopter was registered to SAF LTD and operated by Safari Helicopters, Inc. under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as an on-demand sightseeing flight. The flight departed Lihue Airport at 4:31 p.m. local time.

The crash site on Kauai of an Airbus AS350 helicopter. (NTSB photo by Brice Banning)
The NTSB dispatched a team of four, led by Investigator-In-Charge Brice Banning, that includes experts in airworthiness, operations and family assistance. They arrived on Kauai, Hawaii, Sunday evening. Other investigators, including a meteorologist, are working from NTSB headquarters in Washington.
On Monday, December 30, 2019, Banning flew over the crash site to evaluate the accident site conditions and photo document the wreckage path. In the coming days the wreckage will be moved to a secure location where investigators will conduct a more thorough examination of the recovered evidence. Details and timing are still being worked out.
A preliminary report documenting facts collected on scene will be issued on ntsb.gov within three weeks of the crash date. The final report, which will contain a finding of probable cause and any safety recommendations, will be issued at the end of the investigation, which could take 12-24 months. The reports and any future updates will be posted to this accident web page.

To report an incident/accident or if you are a public safety agency, please call 1-844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290 to speak to a Watch Officer at the NTSB Response Operations Center (ROC) in Washington, DC (24/7).