Aviation activity is unique in the Hawaiian archipelago because of its location and geographical topography. As the only U.S. state outside of North America, and completely surrounded by water, Hawaii offers many challenges to aviation including rapidly changing maritime weather, strong and gusty winds, and steep mountainous terrain. With air travel much faster and more convenient than travel by sea, aviation it has become an important part of Hawaiian Island life.
Hawaii’s tropical climate and combination of ocean, geology, flora and fauna, also make it a world-wide tourist destination. Throughout the years many commercial air-tour, sightseeing, and charter flight operations have been established, and recreational aviation continues to grow, including skydiving, ultralights, hangliding, powered parachutes, and glider operations.
Because of Hawaii’s limited number of airports and its unique topography, helicopters now commonly operate throughout the islands.
Unfortunately, Hawaii has seen its fair share of aviation accidents, from small general aviation aircraft and helicopter air tour operations, to large air carriers such as the 1988 Aloha Airlines Flight 243 fuselage failure.
The FAA has been cognizant of Hawaii’s unique location for air tours, and in 2007 issued an Appendix to 14 CFR Part 136 entitled: “Special Operating Rules for Air Tour Operators in the State of Hawaii”. This sets forth additional Hawaii specific rules intended to increase safety, such as additional requirements for over water operations and passenger warnings. More recently, in 2013 the NTSB issued a series of Safety Recommendations to the FAA to address the need for an aviation weather camera program in Hawaii. Citing 13 weather related accidents in Hawaii, the NTSB sought to reduce the risks of these types of accidents. (NTSB Safety Recommendations A-13-025 through -027)
If you or a loved one are involved in an aircraft accident in Hawaii, contact Robert Hedrick at Aviation Law Group, for a free initial conference and legal evaluation.