NATIONAL NEWS

FAA sets up new process for Hawaii air tour operators to fly at lower altitudes after fatal crashes

Aug 4, 2023, 7:30 PM | Updated: 7:46 pm

HONOLULU (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday that it is setting up a new process for air tour operators in Hawaii to be approved to fly at lower altitudes after numerous fatal crashes in recent years.

Current FAA regulations require air tour operators to fly at 1,500 feet (460 meters) unless they have authorization to go lower.

The agency said in a news release that it has outlined the new process for securing that authorization, including recommendations for pilot training, qualifications and aircraft equipment. The FAA said it will thoroughly review each operator’s safety plan before it issues an authorization.

“This process will help prevent situations where pilots encounter poor visibility and become disoriented,” said David Boulter, the FAA’s acting associate administrator for aviation safety.

In 2019, a pilot and six passengers were killed when their helicopter crashed in turbulent weather near Kauai’s famed Na Pali Coast.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation blamed the crash on the pilot’s decision to keep flying in worsening weather. The board also said the FAA failed to do enough to ensure that tour pilots in Hawaii are trained in handling bad weather.

Also in 2019, three people died when a helicopter crashed on a street in the Honolulu suburb of Kailua.

And earlier that same year, a skydiving plane crashed on Oahu’s North Shore, killing 11. Investigators blamed the pilot’s aggressive takeoff for that crash.

U.S. Rep. Ed Case, a Democra, cautiously welcomed the FAA”s new steps.

“On first review, this seems to be a serious restart attempt by the FAA to address escalating air tour safety and community disruption concerns,” Case said in an emailed statement.

But Case said “it remains to be seen” if tour operators will comply with the letter and the spirit of the initiative and whether the FAA will enforce it.

“But even if they do, the end solution is strict compliance with all safety requirements and strict regulation of time, place and other conditions of operation to mitigate disruption,” Case said.

National News

Associated Press

FACT FOCUS: A look at claims made at the Republican National Convention as Trump accepts nomination

As former President Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday he laid out his vision for running the country. He painted a dire picture of the state of the U.S. and outlined a range of actions he planned to take. But his comments were marked with a myriad of false and misleading information […]

3 hours ago

Dr. Max Rogers, the obstetrician-gynecologist at Grove Hill Memorial Hospital, poses for a photo Mo...

Associated Press

Alabama birthing units are closing to save money and get funding. Some say babies are at risk

GROVE HILL, Ala. (AP) — One of the last remaining birthing units in southern Alabama will close next month to qualify for federal funding that will save the hospital’s emergency services, but doctors warn the move may cost newborns and pregnant women essential access to obstetric care. Nestled in rural Clarke County, the small, nonprofit […]

4 hours ago

Jim, left, and Tamara Hamilton watch former President Donald Trump speak on television on Thursday,...

Associated Press

Some GOP voters welcome Trump’s somewhat softened tone at Republican National Convention

For those conservative voters long turned off by former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric, his somewhat softened tone in accepting the Republican nomination Thursday night was a welcome relief. “He’s much improved,” Dave Struthers, a 57-year-old farmer from Collins, Iowa, said as he watched Trump’s speech in the basement of his farmhouse. “The thing I’ve had […]

4 hours ago

FILE - Former President Barack Obama speaks in Athens, Greece, June 21, 2023. Democrats at the high...

Associated Press

Obama’s dilemma: Balancing Democrats’ worry about Biden and maintaining influence with president

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Barack Obama has a delicate balance to strike: how to weigh the mounting opposition to President Joe Biden continuing his campaign with his loyalty to his former running mate. In recent days, Obama has taken calls from congressional leaders, Democratic governors and key donors in which he has shared their […]

5 hours ago

Vice President Kamala Harris arrives for an Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote Town Hall, Sat...

Associated Press

Majority of Democrats think Kamala Harris would make a good president, AP-NORC poll shows

WASHINGTON (AP) — As President Joe Biden faces a growing drumbeat of pressure to drop his reelection bid, a majority of Democrats think his vice president would make a good president herself. A new poll from the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that about 6 in 10 Democrats believe Kamala Harris would do […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

How bootcamps are helping to address the historic gap in internet access on US tribal lands

There’s a home movie theater with orange walls and plush recliners at the top of a steep hill on Matthew Rantanen’s ranch in Southern California. But on a recent afternoon, people weren’t flocking to the room to watch a movie or to escape the scorching heat, they were shining a beam of light through more […]

5 hours ago

FAA sets up new process for Hawaii air tour operators to fly at lower altitudes after fatal crashes