NTSB investigating Honolulu helicopter crash


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HONOLULU (AP) - The president of a helicopter company whose small copter crash-landed on a downtown Honolulu street praised the pilot Thursday, while the National Transportation Safety Board leads an investigation.

No one was badly hurt when the two-seater helicopter lost power, forcing the crash landing Wednesday afternoon. The NTSB is not sending anyone to the crash site but will be investigating remotely, with help from local authorities and the Federal Aviation Administration, NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said.

Two FAA inspectors were at the scene Wednesday afternoon and interviewed the pilot, Julia Link, 30, agency spokesman Ian Gregor said. "We're still looking into the incident and don't have any preliminary findings to report," he said.

FAA records show Link has had a helicopter commercial pilot certificate since May 2012.

She has been working as a flight instructor for Mauna Loa Helicopters for about a year, after graduating from the company's flight school, said Benjamin Fouts, president.

The company isn't planning to close or do anything differently during the investigation.

"Nothing's really changed here," he said. "In aviation, unfortunately, accidents do happen." He said he's eager to know why the engine failed so he can ensure it won't happen again.

The NTSB expects to publish a preliminary report in 10 days.

"My hat goes off to Julia. She performed so well under pressure," Fouts said. "You couldn't be more proud."

Fouts said he's on the mainland for a business trip and hasn't yet spoken with her. "First thing I'll do is go buy her a cold beer."

The company primarily uses the Robinson R22 Beta for flight instruction and sometimes for photographers who want to take aerial shots.

Photographer Karl Hedberg suffered a minor cut on his head and needed a bandage.

The FAA registry shows that the aircraft was manufactured in 1992 and has a valid certificate. Fouts said he leases it from HLM Aviation Services, Inc., and that he's part-owner of that company.

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Follow Jennifer Sinco Kelleher at http://www.twitter.com/jenhapa.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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