A sightseeing helicopter that crashed and burned in December in Hawaii apparently was flying in fog and rain when it struck the ground on Dec. 26, 2019, killing the pilot and all six passengers, according to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The helicopter was destroyed by the crash and subsequent fire.
In a preliminary report released today, the NTSB said that the Safari Helicopters Airbus AS350 B2 crashed around 1657 local time Dec. 26 in weather conditions that a witness said included visibility of about 20 ft (6 m). The witness told accident investigators that he heard the sounds of a helicopter hovering, followed by a “high-pitched whine.” He said that he tried to locate the helicopter in a mountainous area 24 mi (39 km) northwest of Lihue, Hawaii, on the island of Kauai, but failed because of the bad weather and approaching darkness.
The wreckage was found the following morning in what the NTSB described as tropical mountainous terrain, about 3,000 ft above sea level in Koke’e State Park.
The closest official weather observation station — at Barking Sands Pacific Missile Range Facility, 9 mi (14 km) southwest of the accident site — reported conditions at about the time of the accident as including visibility of 10 mi (16 km), few clouds at 1,200 ft, broken clouds at 3,400 ft and 4,700 ft, and an overcast at 6,000 ft. A special weather observation at 1718 reported visibility of 2.5 mi (4 km) in rain and mist and a 3,000 ft overcast.
The accident occurred during the pilot’s eighth and final scheduled 50-minute sightseeing flight of the day, the NTSB report said.
The accident investigation was continuing.