NTSB: FAA failure to adopt safety recommendations a factor in Kauai helicopter crash

Your top local headlines for Tuesday, May 10, 2022.
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 8:56 AM HST|Updated: May. 10, 2022 at 9:41 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The National Transportation Safety Board said the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision not to adopt safety recommendations was among the factors that led up to a helicopter crash on Kauai in December 2019 that killed seven people.

The NTSB detailed its findings Tuesday in its first in-person board meeting since 2020.

Investigators said the aircraft went down about half an hour into the flight in an area of low visibility due to adverse weather.

The NTSB had previously recommended the FAA to require air taxi and air tour operators to implement safety management recommendations, but it had refused to do so. The FAA also ignored the NTSB’s recommendation to develop inflight weather training for air tour operators in Hawaii that could’ve helped the pilot in this situation, investigators added.

They said their findings suggest the pilot — 69-year-old Paul Matero, who was described by colleagues as “safety conscious” — did not maintain a required 3-mile visibility during the flight, which occurred during a period of deteriorating conditions in the area.

“The pilot’s decision to proceed north of Waimea Canyon when other diverted, and his continuation of flight into deteriorating conditions until a crash occurred suggest the possibility that he was overconfident in his ability to fly safely through an area of poor visibility,” said William Bramble, the NTSB’s human performance specialist.

Four adults and three children were on board the Safari Helicopters tour of the Na Pali Coast when it crashed into a heavily forested area of steep terrain.

The other victims included families from Wisconsin and Switzerland.

The NTSB said Matero may have lacked relevant weather information before embarking on the flight.

At the time of the crash, the FAA was planning to install five weather camera facilities on Kauai on an NTSB recommendation. None had been installed.


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