The National Transportation Safety Board slammed the Federal Aviation Administration this week, in wake of a tour helicopter crash in Hawaii that killed the pilot and all six passengers on board.
The NTSB claims that decisions made by its fellow federal agency the FAA contributed to the cause of the Airbus AS350 B2 crash during "deteriorating weather" into wooded terrain on Dec. 26, 2019.
"When the NTSB issues safety recommendations, they are data-driven, supported by factual evidence developed from investigations, and are carefully crafted to prevent accidents," said NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy. "The NTSB previously made 11 recommendations to the FAA to prevent accidents like this one, but our recommendations only work when they are implemented. It's time for the FAA to act."
The crash investigation determined that the highly experienced 69-year-old pilot, who was also Safari Aviation's chief pilot and check airman, flew into a mountainous area with low clouds and foggy conditions. The NTSB maintains that the pilot's decision to continue flight into deteriorating visibility was likely influenced by a lack of up-to-the-minute weather info.
The agency says a safety an organization-wide risk management system would have mitigated many of the safety issues identified in this accident. The NTSB says it has since called for such a system six times since 2016 without action from the FAA.
Further it says it has called for required specialized inflight weather training for air tour operators in Hawaii since 2007, with the FAA failing to act.
The NTSB says it made eight new safety recommendations to the FAA and reiterated 11 more. A single recommendation each was made to the Vertical Aviation Safety Team and the Tour Operators Program of Safety.
The FAA told FlightGlobal that it takes the recommendations seriously and that the agency has installed five weather cameras on three islands in Hawaii with another 21 to be installed along six islands be the end of next year.
The NTSB says it will publish its final report in several weeks.