The helicopter that made an emergency landing Wednesday just outside Aloha Stadium is operated by the same tour company that’s faced scrutiny in recent years for multiple accidents and emergency incidents, including the 2019 Kailua crash that killed three people.

The chopper, which landed in the stadium’s lower Halawa parking lot around 2 p.m., belongs to Rainbow Helicopters, company officials confirmed. Police, fire and emergency medical crews all responded, but no injuries were reported, according to both Rainbow and Stadium spokeswoman Samantha Spain.

Rainbow representatives called the incident a “precautionary” landing.

Rainbow Helicopters Novictor Air Tour
Crews inspect a tour helicopter that made a precautionary landing Wednesday in a parking lot outside Aloha Stadium. The helicopter later took off and headed toward the airport. David Croxford/CivilBeat/2022

“The pilot conducted the landing being conservative and made a normal touchdown in the parking lot,” John Cox, Rainbow’s vice president for safety, said in an email.

There was no damage to the helicopter, and the company is cooperating with an investigation into the matter and authorities, Cox said. He did not say how many people were aboard or give details on what prompted the landing.

“Safety is our number one priority and our pilot followed standard safety policies and protocols,” Cox added in his email.

Rainbow previously did business on Oahu as Novictor. The company largely flies Robinson R44 model helicopters — four-passenger helicopters that are generally smaller and less expensive than the turbine-engine models other Oahu operators use. The aircraft that landed at Aloha Stadium appears to be a different model, however.

Prior to Wednesday’s landing, the company had been involved in three crashes and one precautionary landing from 2018 to 2019, records show.

Those incidents included an emergency landing in Wahiawa, in which the helicopter encountered engine problems and had “substantial” damage, a crash landing at the Kaneohe sandbar in which the pilot blacked out twice and passengers had to take control of the aircraft, and the fatal crash in Kailua, where the helicopter broke apart amid heavy wind gusts and landed on a crowded residential street.

All three people aboard including the pilot were killed in that crash. No one on the ground was hurt.

Novictor was also named in early 2020 in a whistleblower report from a Federal Aviation Administration inspector that addressed multiple concerns with Hawaii’s air tour industry. That inspector, Joseph Monfort, alleged that FAA managers had “inappropriately” close ties with Novictor and had given the company special treatment.

At some point after the Kailua crash Novictor rebranded as Rainbow.

On Wednesday, the helicopter took off several hours after landing at Aloha Stadium and headed toward the Honolulu airport.

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