A bad year for Hawaii Scenic Flights – 7 killed in Kauai

The day after Christmas was marred by the third commercial helicopter crash in Hawaii this year. Following a day-long search for the Safari Helicopter operated tour, the crash site was found with the remains of the 7 perished occupants.

Rough Terrain of Kauai

These crashes in addition to the skydiving crash which killed 11 people in June make 2019 of the worst years for aviation accidents in Hawaiian history.

Hawaii is a unique and challenging place to aviate. While the cause of the crash is to be determined, the unforgiving terrain of Kauai would have left the pilot without a safe option if the aircraft had mechanical problems.

Scenic Air Helicopter

Air tour operators often run on very limited margins. We at Aviation Law Group have seen cases where the accidents were the results of scenic tour operators under training their pilots and under maintaining their fleets.

After Robert Hedrick passed the Hawaiian bar in 2015, Aviation Law Group became the only aviation accident firm with attorneys that are licensed in the State of Hawaii.

If you have a loved one who was injured in this or any other Hawaiian air accident, we are here to help.

Hedrick Speaks To The Bar of Ireland On Trials In The U.S.

(L-R J.J. Camp QC, Associate Counsel, CFM Lawyers, Canada, Micheál P O’Higgins SC, Chairman Council of The Bar of Ireland, Ireland, Sigrid Preissl, Managing Partner, Bourayne & Preissl, France, Robert F. Hedrick, Attorney, Aviation Law Group PS, Seattle, Niamh Hodnett, Solicitor, Commission for Communications (ComReg), Gerard Forlin QC, Cornerstone Barristers, UK)

ALG attorney Robert Hedrick was invited by the Bar of Ireland and Law Society of Ireland (Barristers) to speak in Dublin about jury trials in the U.S. He was part of a panel of international trial lawyers conducting a program entitled: Does The Law Ensure Fair Civil Trials? An International Panel Perspective On Upholding the Rule of Law. As reported in the Bar of Ireland news: 

In line with this theme, legal professionals from across the world came together in Dublin to share international perspectives on fair civil trials. Judges versus juries, the role of government investigations in civil trials, recoverable damages, and time to trial and cost were amongst the topics discussed in a panel discussion moderated by Robert F. Hedrick, an attorney with Aviation Law Group PS in Seattle and Niamh Hodnett, a solicitor with the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg).

Micheál P O’Higgins SC, Chairman Council of The Bar of Ireland, said: “It is an honour to welcome legal professionals from the UK, Canada, France and the US to exchange ideas and best practise on fair civil trials. While civil trials vary greatly across jurisdictions, it is crucial to ensure there is fairness across the board for those involved in the legal system, whether defendants, plaintiffs, or others.”

“As legal professionals this is an issue of great importance to us as we consider ourselves to be defenders of the rule of law by acting against unlawful situations and defending citizens’ rights. We are delighted to team with our international peers to mark this occasion.


NTSB begins inquiry into Fatal South Dakota PC-12 Crash

The busiest traveling weekend of the year was marred by multiple general aviation accidents across the county. The worst of involved a Pilatus PC-12 that crashed shortly after takeoff from Chamberlain Municipal Airport (9V9) which 9 of the 12 people on board the aircraft.

The NTSB has begun an investigation into the cause of the accident. A preliminary report on the plane crash should be released in about a week.

At the time of the departure, the area was under a winter storm warning with visibility a half of a mile at the airport. While a PC-12 is equipped with de-icing boots, it has no ability to remove ice from the surface of the wings and 9V9 was not equipped with deicing equipment.

The victims of the accident were returning to their home in Idaho Falls, Idaho from an annual hunting trip. Our hearts go out to the who family is now preparing for the funerals of four generations of men who perished in the crash.

Source: https://www.ntsb.gov/news/press-releases/Pages/nr20191202.aspx

Source: https://www.eastidahonews.com/2019/11/kyani-conrad-bischoff-executives-among-those-killed-in-south-dakota-plane-crash-jim-hansen-kirk-hansen/

Hedrick Speaks To Canadian Bar Association On The Future Of Helicopter External Load Technology

On October 30, 2019 Robert Hedrick gave a PowerPoint presentation to the Air Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association in Vancouver, British Columbia, on: Drone Technology For Helicopters And Beyond: The Legal Landscape

Robert discussed new drone technology that is being incorporated into helicopter load stabilization, and how civilian and military markets throughout the world are anxious to implement this technology to increase safety and save lives. This state-of-the-art technology involves connecting a drone type device to helicopter external loads to prevent swinging and spinning. The future use of this technology includes use on high rise construction cranes, off-shore oil platforms, and for firefighting. 

Drone-based firefighting proof of concept

Robert also addressed the legal status of this technology and the current framework of Federal Aviation Regulations related to operations involving this state-of-the-art technology. He also discussed safety issues and accident liability.

Fatal Alaska Crash ends 6 years of airline safety

A PenAir codeshare flight for Alaska Airlines overran the runway at Unalaska, AK (USA) with 38 passengers and 3 crew. The aircraft came to a stop about 125 meters/400 feet past the end of the runway partially hanging down a slope into the sea, the left-hand propeller blades had contacted some obstacles, blades impacted and penetrated the fuselage.

One passenger died as a result of the accident, two passengers received serious injuries, five received minor injuries. One injured passenger was flown out to Anchorage. A total of eleven passengers were taken to a hospital. This tragedy ends a six-year period time without a fatality on US soil from an Airline accident.

Preliminary investigations show that the pilot landed with a gusting tailwind on a slippery runway. This was a recipe for disaster and one that should have been prevented.

Our sympathies go to the victim of accident many of whom were en route to start their fishing season in Alaska and now must deal with painful rehabilitation from this accident.

As the only aviation accident firm with lawyers licensed in both Alaska and Washington we can assist in finding justice for those injured in this tragedy.

ALG attorney Bob Hedrick Speaks To Scottish Bar Association On Cross-Examination

On May 18, 2016 AGL attorney Robert Hedrick gave a PowerPoint presentation to Scotland’s Faculty of Advocates, in Edinburgh, Scotland.  Below is an article from the Scottish Legal News publication, which can also be viewed at:


Advocates given glimpse into history of Nuremberg Trials

Members and guests of the Faculty of Advocates have been given a fascinating glimpse of the historic Nuremberg Trials and the widely-debated cross-examination of Hermann Goering.

Roa2683667-c7b1-4e40-9056-9a661878a4d4bert Hedrick, a US attorney and an Adjunct Professor at Seattle University, is an avid student of the Trials and has delivered a PowerPoint presentation, From History’s Greatest Trial: The Cross-Examination of Hermann Goering, to audiences in the US and Australia.

He took time out from a conference in Edinburgh on international aviation law and insurance to give his talk to the Faculty.

Mr Hedrick said that some people believed the O. J. Simpson case was the trial of the century but he was clear that the description belonged “hands down” to Nuremberg.

“We had the most significant Nazi who survived the War, Hermann Goering, and more than 20 others…it brought out some great performances and some not-so-great performances by the lawyers involved,” he said.

The US Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson was the lead prosecutor for the US, and his cross-examination of Goering lasted two-and-a-half days, and was followed by another half day by David Maxwell Fyfe, of Britain’s prosecution team.

Mr Hedrick said Goering was a “slippery” witness, who often complained about the translation of questions to buy time to think of an answer.

“Right from the very beginning, Jackson did not control his witness, and the questions went on and on. Jackson seems more interested in the next question he is going to ask than listening to his witness,” suggested Mr Hedrick.

“Maxwell Fyfe had the benefit of watching Goering and Jackson fight it out for two-and-a-half days, and his number one thing was to control the witness…’This witness is not getting out of my grasp.’ He did a really good job.”

ALG Attorney Addresses Montreal Convention At International Aviation Law and Insurance Conference

Robert Hedrick was invited to present at the 9th Annual Conference On International Aviation Law and Insurance, held  in Edinburgh, Scotland in May, 2016. Mr. Hedrick was on a panel discussing international air carrier liability with other leading industry experts from the U.K., Italy and Australia. The panel was expertly moderated by Alan Reitzfeld of Holland & Knight, New York.

Hedrick gave an update as to the status of international uniformity under the Montreal Convention. He identified areas where the Convention was lacking uniformity, such as under Article 17, where court’s around the world continue to struggle with concepts of strict air carrier liability and emotional distress claims. The panel also discussed the viability of pre-impact fear in wrongful death claims subject to the Convention.  He summed up the experience: “It was an honor to be part of this distinguished panel, and to be among colleagues from around the world who, like myself, have a passion for international aviation law.”

ALG Licensed in Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, and California

ALG attorney Robert Hedrick has added to ALG’s attorney license expansion by taking and passing the July Hawaii Bar Exam.

Hedrick put it into perspective: “while this is the fourth bar exam that I have passed, it has been nearly 20 years since my last bar exam, and the difficult challenge of passing a bar exam is ever present, especially to those older attorneys such as myself.” Hedrick also advises: “A good bar exam review would be beneficial for a lot of experienced attorneys, as we often forget the fundamentals of law outside our practice areas.”

ALG attorneys are now licensed in California, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii. ALG handles matters throughout the U.S., and we associate local counsel in other states when needed.

Aviation Attorney Hedrick Speaks at the 2015 Aviation Insurance Seminar

ALG attorney Robert Hedrick were recently invited to give presentations at the Northwest Aviation Insurance Association Seminar in Seattle.

On November 5, 2015, ALG attorney Robert Hedrick participated as part of an insurance and legal claims panel, where Mr. Hedrick provided opinions from the plaintiffs aviation accident attorney’s perspective. The panel discussed numerous regional aircraft accidents, including legal and insurance issues that arose from those accidents.


One of the accidents involved a 2009 commercial seaplane accident in British Columbia, in which ALG represented the families of a married couple from California who perished in the accident. Mr. Hedrick expressed serious concerns about numerous safety issues in the seaplane transport industry which were not implemented following the accident.

Hedrick addresses Federal Preemption Issues At Pacific Northwest Aviation Law Seminar

ALG attorney Robert Hedrick was invited to give a presentation at the 42nd Annual Pacific Northwest Aviation Law and Insurance Seminar, held in downtown Seattle October 9-11. His topic was “Engines, Regulations and Preemption: Spontaneous Combustion For Judges and Juries”. During his 50 minute presentation, Hedrick focused on how the federal aviation regulations do not squarely fit into state law product liability standards. He noted that a string of cases recognizing federal preemption in aviation matters primarily involve regulation of human conduct such as flight crew warnings and pilot duties. Hedrick stated that for practical and policy considerations, those cases do not mandate application of federal standards of care in aviation product liability cases, especially claims involving manufacturing defects, because the regulations are far to general, and they do not contain specific manufacturing standards, or even design standards. “Thus, manufacturers and suppliers are hard pressed to argue that they are subject to conflicting standards of care, when a specific standard is absent from federal law. It’s a false conflict. By allowing general federal performance standards to control over specific state standards, it is virtually impossible for judges and juries to reconcile manufacturing defects with the federal regulatory scheme,” he said. “While 9th Circuit case law recognizes the dilemma, Washington state courts are not following the leading case of Martin v. Midwest Express, 555 F.3d 806 (9th Cir. 2009), especially when it comes to issues of failure to warn and that of unregulated suppliers”, Hedrick concluded.