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State Lawmakers Asking FAA To Take Action On Tour Helicopter Operations In State

Alan Light
CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

State lawmakers are asking federal officials to either ground all tour helicopters in the islands or ban flights over residential neighborhoods. Following Monday's deadly helicopter crash in Kailua, four senators signed a letter asking for action by the Federal Aviation Administration and state Department of Transportation.

The request echoes state Rep. Cynthia Thielen's letter to Hawai?i congressional delegates requesting a statewide tour helicopter grounding.

State Sen. Laura Thielen, who represents Kailua and is the daughter of the representative, said there have been other attempts to curb tour helicopters over local neighborhoods.

"We've been shut down at every attempt," said Thielen. "We're going back in the letter to say to the FAA, you guys need to ground these commercial flights until the investigation is done. It's the second crash of a tour helicopter [of the] same type, and the third crash in this region in recent years."

"We need to determine if they're safe before you continue to allow them to operate. Or at a minimum to order them out of the airspace over residential areas," she said.

Along with Thielen, Sens. Stanley Chang (District 9), Gil Riviere (District 23), and Jarrett Keohokalole (District 24) also signed the letter.  After the letter was submitted, other state senators said they supported grounding tour helicopters for the time being, according to Thielen.

Congressman Ed Case also sent a letter to the FAA requesting the agency take action in the wake of the latest crash.

Casey Harlow was an HPR reporter and occasionally filled in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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