Grand Canyon Air-tour Recommendations Issued

 - November 13, 2007, 11:05 AM

Last week the NTSB issued several safety recommendations stemming from the Sept. 20, 2003 crash of a Sundance Helicopters Eurocopter AS 350BA into a canyon wall in the Grand Canyon, killing the pilot and all six passengers. According to the Safety Board, the pilot disregarded safe flying procedures and misjudged the helicopter’s proximity to terrain. As a result, the NTSB wants the FAA to require periodic en route surveillance of all repetitively flown commercial air-tour routes in the Grand Canyon area; to compel commercial air-tour operators to maintain records of all safety-related complaints regarding pilot performance; to require commercial air-tour operators to maintain passenger names and contact information for at least 30 days; and to encourage commercial air-tour operators to establish a structured flight operations monitoring program. Additionally, the Board is recommending that the Tour Operators Program of Safety expand the safety audit program to include a review of safety-related complaints, en route surveillance of air-tour routes in the Grand Canyon area and revised guidance materials with a clear definition of “air tour flight.”