Neighborhood board supports banning helicopter tours over Kailua

Neighborhood board supports banning helicopter tours over Kailua
Kailua neighborhood board votes to ban helicopter tours over their community

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kailua neighborhood board members passed a resolution on Thursday requesting the FAA to ban all helicopter tours over their community.

The decision comes nearly five months after three people were killed when a Robinson R44 nose-dived onto a busy street.

Dozens voiced their concerns at the neighborhood board meeting Thursday evening saying since then, nothing has changed.

"I’d say there are anywhere from 30 to 50 helicopters fly over my house on any given day,” said Maunawili resident Whiting Hyland. “I would be curious as to why our elected officials cannot come up with something to tell them to fly a mile off-shore.”

The head of a major helicopter tour company says the industry is just following the law.

"What the community doesn't understand, neither does the neighborhood is that we fly by federal regulations. You can google them, they're there. There's certain altitudes that we have to fly by, there's distances from shorelines that we have to fly by," said Richard Schuman, owner of Magnum Helicopters.

Two more videos surfaced this week show low-flying helicopters on Oahu.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating one near Waikiki believed to be part of a television production shoot. The other chopper was recorded on the North Shore.

U.S. Representative Ed Case is introducing a bill that would impose strict regulations on commercial tour operations including helicopters and small planes.

The bill is in response to the triple fatal crash and other deadly crashes in Hawaii this year.

The "Safe and Quiet Skies Act" would direct the Federal Aviation Administration to adopt tighter safety recommendations.

Schuman says he disagrees with Case's logic.

“Helicopters are unsafe. That’s like saying all cars are unsafe. You can make a case for that. All bicycles are unsafe. Helicopters are not unsafe. But like anything else, in the wrong hands, under the wrong operator, untrained, unskilled, yeah, could be a bad situation,” said Schuman.

The preliminary report of the incident revealed the tour helicopter was losing parts before it hit the road. But it didn’t include what may have brought the chopper down. It could be a year before the final report is released.

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