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.

Aviation Law Group wins one of the top 100 largest verdicts in the U.S.

In February 2013, following a 3 week jury trial, a King County Superior Court Jury in Washington returned a verdict in favor of our clients, and the clients of co-counsel, for the death of three people in an aircraft accident in Western Washington.  The twelve person jury awarded more than 26 Million Dollars in compensatory and punitive damages.

When asked for comment by reporters covering the case, Robert F. Hedrick of Aviation Law Group said:

“Once we analyzed the defects in the carburetor, our investigation focused on the carburetor design, manufacturing process, and failure history. Sure enough there was a significant history of similar failures for years before this accident.”

We at ALG are proud of the recoveries we obtain for our clients.  We can always be reached at (206) 464-1166.  Call us, an attorney will always speak to you directly.

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.

Robert F. Hedrick of Aviation Law Group speaks to Bloomberg on Malaysia Flight 370

On March 8, 2014 Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, with 239 passengers and crew, disappeared. The still missing aircraft is now presumed to have crashed with no survivors. The press sought out answers to questions involving private international aviation liability, and ALG attorney Robert Hedrick had the answers. In the weeks following the accident, Mr. Hedrick was interviewed on radio, television, and newspaper, including the following: BBC-UK, BBC-Australia, Radio New Zealand, China Daily, Bloomberg News, China Central Television – CCTV America, and MSNBC – The Reid Report. On March 12, 2014 the China Daily front page stated:

“Even if Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is never found, the rights of the passengers on board will not remain a mystery,” according to Robert Hedrick, an aviation accident attorney at Aviation Law Group. If the aircraft or wreckage of 370 is never found, will the passenger’s families be able to recover for their loss? If so, who will bear responsibility? “The Montreal Convention is a multilateral treaty signed by more than 100 countries including the US. The Convention controls ticketed international travel involving signatory countries,” Hedrick said. “Malaysia signed the Montreal Convention in 2008, and China signed in 2005. “Passengers that are ticketed to travel between the two countries are therefore ordinarily subject to the Convention. “The disappearance of an aircraft is an ‘accident’ under the Montreal Convention. Under … the Convention, Malaysian Airlines is automatically (strictly) liable for damage sustained by passengers up to … approximately $155,000. “For amounts in excess of that, unless Malaysia Airlines can prove that the disappearance was not due to its negligence, or was solely the responsibility of a third party, it will face exposure for full damages to each passenger. “With the missing aircraft, that burden will likely be impossible to meet,” Hedrick said.

Robert  F. Hedrick spoke as an expert on international aviation law live on Bloomberg News on March 24, 2014.

His interview is available below:

Mr. Hedrick spoke on international liability under the Montreal Convention as well as the likelihood of recovery for passengers on the flight. Mr. Hedrick is always available for discussion of international law issues.  He can be reached at (206) 464-1166.