Coast Guard Helicopter Crew Struck By Laser

A Coast Guard helicopter crew was targeted by an individual with a laser pointer while flying in the vicinity of Waimanalo Bay on Oahu, Saturday.

A green laser shining on an aircraft. Photo courtesy of Department of Transportation

A green laser shining on an aircraft. Photo courtesy of Department of Transportation

The lased MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew was conducting a search in response to an uncorrelated distress call when the incident occurred. Four crewmembers observed the laser sweeping the aircraft and one of the pilots was directly struck.

This is the fifth lasing incident within the last year at Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point.

The Coast Guard is working with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Honolulu Police Department to investigate the incident.

“We were searching off Waimanalo following a received mayday call when we were hit by a green laser,” said Lt. Cmdr. Roger Barr, an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter pilot at Air Station Barbers Point. “We protected our eyes quickly enough to avoid being blinded, reported the incident, and were able to continue the mission. This was the air station’s first East Oahu lasing incident in recent years. The frequency of incidents locally and nationally is increasing at a dangerous rate and the public needs to know that when we are hit by a laser, we are no longer effective at finding that lost family member or friend.”

Laser pointers can cause glare, afterimage, flash blindness or temporary loss of night vision, all causing a great danger to the crew. If any aircrew member’s vision is compromised during a flight, Coast Guard flight rules dictate that the aircraft must abort their mission. If an aircrew member is lased it severely compromises their ability to fly the aircraft and complete the mission safely. In order to ensure their health, aircrew members are taken off flight duty until cleared by a flight surgeon before flying again. This hinders the Coast Guard’s ability to respond to people in distress, training, and homeland security missions.

It is a federal crime, as well as violation of most states’ laws to aim a laser pointer at an aircraft. If an individual is caught purposefully lasing an aircraft, punishment ranges from being arrested or having to pay a civil penalty of $11,000 for a single offense, to more than $30,000 if the individual has multiple offenses. People witnessing this crime are strongly encouraged to immediately call 911 to report the incident. The FAA tracks laser incidents by city, state and nationality and initiated about 95 civil penalty cases in 2011 nationwide.

For more information contact Lt. Bryan Weber, Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point public affairs officer, at (808) 682-2628.

 

Skydiving Incident in Hawaii Leaves Man Seriously Injured at Pacific Skydiving

A skydiving incident in Hawaii has left a skydiver seriously injured at Pacific Skydiving located at the Dillingham Airfield over on the North Shore of Oahu.

Ambulance arrives at Pacific Skydiving to take away the injured skydiver

Ambulance arrives at Pacific Skydiving to take away the injured skydiver

To make matters worst, their instructor toppled onto him according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser:

A 34-year-old male skydiver suffered serious injury Friday afternoon after a hard landing at Dillingham Airfield.

Department of Emergency Services spokeswoman Shayne Enright said the injury was to his pelvic area and the instructor toppled onto him.

The accident occurred at 12:57 p.m. Friday…

In a video released yesterday, you can see that skydivers at Pacific Skydive have been known to push the limits when it comes to jumping:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/LBngThlt2oE]

Under CFR 14 Part 91.155 conducting VFR parachute operations thru overcast skies is illegal and dangerous. Feel free to contact me for more evidence regarding FAR violations from this company, I have hours worth of footage.

14 CFR Part 105 is based on the assumption that any individual who chooses to skydive has assessed the dangers involved and assumes personal responsibility for his or her safety. The regulations in Part 105 are intended to assure the safety of those not involved in the sport, including persons and property on the surface and other users of the airspace. The skydiving community is encouraged to adopt good operating practices and programs to avoid further regulation by the FAA.

Hawaii Awarded $23 Million From FAA and FTA for Airport Projects

Today, Senator Brian Schatz announced seven grants from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) totaling more than $23 million for Hawai‘i including funding for airport projects in Honolulu, Kaunakakai, and Lanai City.

HNL

“The FAA and FTA have made transportation in Hawai‘i a priority, and the grants announced today are evidence of that,” said Senator Brian Schatz. “I have confirmed through conversations with Transportation Secretary Foxx and Federal Transit Administration Administrator Rogoff  that our state will continue to receive funding for critical improvements, allowing Hawai‘i to continue to grow as a tourist destination and economic center.”

The grants include:

  • Runway pavement rehab: $10,522,090 from the FAA for Phase II, rehabilitation of existing runway pavement at the Honolulu International Airport that is needed to maintain structural integrity of the pavement and to minimize foreign object debris.
  • Bus replacement: $3,440,000 from the FTA for the purchase of replacement buses for the County of Hawaii transit agency, the County of Maui Transportation Department, and the County of Kauai Transportation Department. The new buses will also have improved access for mobility limited passengers and patrons with bicycles. This project was selected on a competitive basis from the State of Good Repair Program and project selection was announced August 2012. The funds are now being obligated for the project.
  • Airport drainage improvements: $3,022,148 from the FAA for Phase II, construction of airport drainage improvements at the Molokai Airport in Kaunakakai. The drainage improvements are necessary to adequately handle stormwater runoff.
  • Additional airport pavement upgrades: $2,500,000 from the FAA to update the Pavement Management Program for the seven-primary and one-reliever airport within the State of Hawaii. The project is needed to establish the current condition of the airfield pavement and to address how the airfield pavement will be maintained or upgraded to acceptable levels.
  • Hangar rehab: $2,074,869 from the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program for Phase II rehabilitation of Hangar 110 at Kalaeloa Airport (John Rodgers Field) in Honolulu.
  • Airport runway lighting: $1,041,930 from the FAA to rehabilitate the runway lighting system that has reached the end of its useful life at the Lanai Airport in Lanai City. The project is necessary to enhance safe airfield operations during low visibility conditions and to meet Federal Aviation Regulations Part 139 requirements.
  • Study of airport system needs: $904,500 from the FAA to conduct a state system plan study to evaluate the existing airport system and identify airport development needs.

 

Governor Abercrombie Releases $21.8 Million for Airports, Highways Statewide

Gov. Neil Abercrombie yesterday announced the release of more than $21.8 million for capital improvement projects (CIP) for state airports and highways that will further stimulate Hawaii’s improving economy and job environment.

“Our state’s economy is growing stronger, and it is important that we maintain this positive momentum by continuing to invest in priority capital improvement projects – particularly those maintaining and upgrading our transportation infrastructure, which is essential to island commerce, business, the visitor industry, and our way of life,” Gov. Abercrombie said, adding, “As I directed upon taking office, the state Department of Transportation is restructuring its procurement process and will ensure proper training and implementation of strong, centralized controls to meet standards required by law.”

Allotment of funds for the following priority projects, identified by members of the state Legislature, has been approved by the Governor:

Airports

  • $6,340,000 – Honolulu International Airport, Oahu – Pavement reconstruction for Runway 4R to comply with applicable Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements
Honolulu Airport

Honolulu Airport

  • $4,750,000 – Kahului Airport, Maui – Construction for repaving a portion of Runway 2-20 to comply with applicable FAA requirements
Kahalui Airport

Kahalui Airport

  • $2,700,000 – Honolulu International Airport, Oahu – Construction to replace 12 passenger loading bridges at the Ewa Concourse
  • $1,250,000 – Kahului Airport, Maui – Planning funds to prepare technical studies and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) related to proposed Runway 2-20 improvements
  • $1,075,400 – Honolulu International Airport, Oahu – Airfield lighting improvements for Runway 4L to comply with applicable FAA requirements
  • $100,000 – Kapalua Airport Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) Station Expansion, Maui – Additional construction to complete the station expansion with the addition of a two-bay garage and storage structure

Highways

  • $1,380,000 – Kuhio Highway Intersection Improvements, Kauai – Design and construction to improve traffic flow and safety in the area by widening the intersection and creating left-turn storage lanes at the intersection of Kuhio Highway and Kapaka Street
Kuhio Highway

Kuhio Highway

  •  $1,150,000 – Statewide Planning and Research Program, Fiscal Year 2013 – Planning and research activities related to the development, management and operation of transportation systems and facilities in the state (Highway planning and research is a prerequisite to continued receipt of federal highway funds)
  • $1,019,000 – Kekaulike Avenue Drainage Improvements, Maui – Construction to improve the drainage capacity by installing an underground drainage system along the mauka shoulder, as well as acquisition of land for a drainage easement parcel and the rental of two construction easements
  • $944,000 – Castle Hills Access Road (Phase 2), Oahu – Improvements to stabilize the streambanks and construct erosion control facilities along Kapunahala Stream in the vicinity of Pookela Street
  • $400,000 – Freeway Management System (Phase 2), Oahu – Design activities, including the preparation of plans, specifications and estimates for the purpose of deploying equipment and hardware such as closed-caption television cameras, variable message signs, vehicle detectors (sensors), and license plate readers to provide data on speeds and travel time
CCTV's

CCTV’s

  • $395,000 – Statewide Bridge Inspection and Appraisal, Fiscal Year 2013 – Planning for the bridge inspection and appraisal program to determine bridge needs and the prioritization of those needs
  • $310,000 – Kalanianaole Highway Drainage Improvements, Oahu – Design for a new drainage system to address flooding in the vicinity of Wailupe Place

 

Kona International Airport Dedicates New Air Traffic Control Tower, Breaks Ground For Aircraft Rescue & Fire-Fighting Station

The state Department of Transportation celebrated the dedication of a new Air Traffic Control Tower and a groundbreaking for a new Aircraft Rescue and Fire-Fighting (ARFF) facility at the Kona International Airport on Wednesday.

Kona Airport Tower

The new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Traffic Control Tower will provide improved visibility over all movement areas and air traffic patterns.  It replaces the previous tower which had served Kona International since July 1970.  Construction on the new tower began in December 2009 at an approximate cost of $34.86 million.

Ground was also broken for a new 24,000 square-foot ARFF facility which will include two truck bays, a trailer bay and a fueling area, along with improved work and living areas for firefighters, office space, dorm rooms and a workout area.  The new station will replace the existing ARFF station, originally built in 1980.  FAA funding will cover $14.6 million, or nearly 86-percent, of the total project cost of $17 million and state funds will provide the remainder.

“Kona International Airport is the gateway for visitors and residents alike and the new fire-fighting station and FAA tower will enable us to continue to provide a safe environment,” said Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui.  ”This is also an important investment to support our economic driver – tourism.”

“This investment in operational upgrades represents a strong commitment by the state and federal government to ensure safety and operational efficiency,” said DOT Director Glenn Okimoto.  ”These projects also pave the way for further improvements at Kona International Airport, including a terminal modernization that is part of Governor Neil Abercrombie’s New Day Work Projects.”

“Watching these projects come to fruition is a testament to the hard work and cooperation of so many people in state and federal government, airport stakeholders, and the construction industry,” said DOT Deputy Director of Airports, Ford Fuchigami.  ”Our improvements are the direct result of this collaboration and we are very thankful for these continuing efforts.”

The new Air Traffic Control Tower went into operation in December of last year and the ARFF station is anticipated to be completed in spring of 2013.

 

Federal Aviation Administration Grants Hawaii $250,000 for Space Transportation Infrastructure

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced nearly $500,000 in new Space Transportation Infrastructure matching grants to three projects located in California, Colorado and Hawaii that will help develop and expand commercial space transportation infrastructure.

“These investments will help us continue to develop a safe and robust commercial space industry in the United States,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

“Government and private sector partnerships are essential to carrying out our national space policies,” said FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta.  “Today’s grants help keep America competitive by investing in space transportation infrastructure development.”

The matching grants are $250,000 to the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism; $200,000 to Colorado’s Front Range Airport Authority, and $23,750 to the East Kern Airport District at California’s Mojave Spaceport. The Hawaii and Colorado grants both will be used to conduct environmental and other feasibility analyses for a potential FAA Commercial Launch Site Operator’s License.  The grant to the East Kern Airport District will be used for acquisition of a “pyrolance,” a dual firefighting piercing system to aid in rapid response to rescue emergencies and to fires involving launch vehicles.

The federal matching grants fund up to 50 percent of the total project cost in conjunction with state and local government funding.  In addition, the grants require that a minimum of 10 percent of the total project cost come from private funding.

The United States’ space program has three sectors – civil, military and commercial. The FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation is responsible for licensing, regulating and promoting the commercial space transportation industry.  Since the office was created in 1984, the FAA has issued licenses for more than 200 launches, licensed the operation of eight FAA-approved launch sites known as spaceports and has helped ensure that no loss of life or serious injury has been associated with these efforts.

For more information on FAA’s commercial space transportation activities a fact sheet is available at: http://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/news_story.cfm?newsId=11559.

Helicopter Makes Emergency Landing in Mountain View on the Big Island

A tour helicopter made an unscheduled landing in Puna on Monday (May 28).


Puna patrol officers responded to a 1:45 p.m. notification from the Federal Aviation Administration of a helicopter down near the 14-mile marker on Highway 11 near Mountain View. It was determined that the pilot of the helicopter, which is registered to a local tour company, made a precautionary landing after a warning light illuminated on his control panel.

No one was hurt and the helicopter was not damaged. Another helicopter from the same tour company responded to the scene and transported the passengers out of the area without incident.

Agriculture Inspector Positions Supported in State Budget Bill

Last night, House Finance and Senate Ways and Means conferees agreed to support Agriculture inspectors statewide by funding the positions through the state general fund rather than a special fund, freeing up more money to fight invasive species.

Currently, 20 inspector positions at airports and harbors on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii Island, are funded through the Pest Inspection, Quarantine and Eradication Special Fund.  Monies in the fund are normally used for invasive species programs, but have been tapped in recent years to fund the agriculture inspectors due to the downturn in the economy and the state’s limited resources.

“The struggle to fund agriculture inspectors in order to stop invasive species from entering the state has been on-going for several years,” said Rep. Clift Tsuji (District 3 – South Hilo, Panaewa, Puna, Keaau, Kurtistown), Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture.  “I’m very pleased that my colleagues on the money committees recognized the urgency to support agriculture inspection and fight invasive species in a reliable and responsible manner.  This is good news for the protection of Hawaii’s precious natural resources.”

Additionally, the conferees agreed to fund through general funds nine agriculture inspector positions at Kahului Airport on Maui that are currently funded through the Department of Transportation using Federal Aviation Administration monies that will be discontinued at the end of this fiscal year.

The budget bill, HB2012, must clear the conference committee, pass a final floor vote in both House and Senate, and if passed, will be sent to the Governor for signature.

Pilot Being Airlifted to Queens After Crashing in O’okala Corn Field on the Big Island

The pilot of the small plane that crash-landed in Oʻokala on Thursday (April 19), is being air-lifted to The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu in critical condition.


At 10:45 a.m., North Hilo officers responded to the Oʻokala Dairy road, near the 30-mile marker of Route 19 (Hawaii Belt Road), where they found the pilot—a 68-year-old Hilo man—seriously injured.

He had attempted an emergency landing onto a newly planted corn field after his two-seat single-engine propeller airplane reportedly lost power due to engine failure. Fire Department rescue personnel extricated him from the plane and airlifted him to North Hawaiʻi Community Hospital before he was transferred to Queen’s.

An investigator from the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to arrive at the scene today.

Public Meetings on Preliminary Alternatives for the Development of an Air Tour Management Plan for Volcanoes National Park

Public Meeting/Notice of Availability, Review, and Comment on Preliminary Alternatives for the Development of an Air Tour Management Plan for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI

Me, Howard Dicus, His wife and Hawaii News Now Camerman get ready for a helicopter tour

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of public meeting, request for comments, and availability of preliminary alternatives.

SUMMARY: This notice announces the availability of preliminary air tour alternatives and announces meetings hosted by the National Park Service, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the FAA’s Air Tour Management Program. The purpose of the meetings is to introduce proposed alternatives to the public which contain routes and altitudes used by air tour operators when providing air tours of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The meetings provide an opportunity for the public to review and comment onalternatives.

DATES: Comment Period:Comments must be received on or before June 6, 2011.

Meetings: The meetings will be held at the following locations, dates, and times:

  • Volcano, Hawaii Monday, April 18, 2011, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Klauea Visitor Center, 1 Crater Rim Drive, Pahoa, Hawaii.
  • Tuesday, April 19, 2011, 5-7 p.m. Pahoa Community Center, 15-2910 Puna Rd.
  • Wednesday, April 20, 2011, 5-7 p.m. Na’alehu Community Center, 95-5635 Mamalahoa Highway.

More information here: Public Meeting and Comment on Preliminary Alternatives for the Development of an Air Tour Management Plan for Volcanoes National Park

Hawaiian Helicopter Operators Discuss Issues and Concerns With HAI President

I got to ride on a helicopter last year with Howard Dicus courtesy of  Paradise Helicopters and that was an awesome trip.

I don’t mind the tourist helicopters as much as I mind the federally funded green harvest helicopters.

The yellow pouch is actually a life vest

It often seems like folks here on the Big Island mix the two up and tourist helicopters are taking the bad rap on things at times.

Howard Dicus and Paradise Helicopter owner Cal Dorn discuss the scheduled flight

The president of Helicopter Association International, Matt Zuccaro was on the Big Island recently to speak at the Aviation Issues forum, “a prestigious annual gathering of congressional, governmental, and aviation industry leaders hosted each year by the American Association of Airport Executives.”

…The tour operators Paradise Helicopters and Sunshine Helicopters discussed initiatives to support and enhance the air tour business with Helicopter Association International (HAI) President Matt Zuccaro during his recent visit to Hawaii.

Zuccaro met with Cal Dorn of Paradise and Sunshine’s Paul Morris to discuss a number of HAI initiatives to support air tours, including its ongoing discussions with the FAA, U.S. National Park Service, and representatives of environmental groups as part of the National Parks Overflight Advisory Group. That group was created to develop air tour management plans for national parks…

…In their meeting, the three also reviewed initiatives to enhance the safety of helicopter operations in Hawaii by fielding the greater air traffic surveillance and communications capabilities of the FAA’s Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast system (which is now operational in the Gulf of Mexico) and gaining funding and support for an integrated network of weather cameras on the islands.

Zuccaro updated Dorn and Morris on HAI’s efforts regarding legislative initiatives that would place unwarranted additional regulatory and financial burdens on the helicopter community…

Full article here: Hawaiian Operators Discuss Issues, Concerns with HAI President