Air Methods adds Blue Hawaiian to its fleet

A Colorado-based air medical transportation company has acquired Maui-based Blue Hawaiian Helicopters and its affiliates, the companies said in news releases Monday.

The terms were not disclosed.

The news releases did say that Blue Hawaiian will continue to provide helicopter tours in the islands.

Blue Hawaiian, which was founded in 1985 and has been offering tours of five Hawaiian islands, will join Air Methods Corp.’s tourism division, joining Sundance Helicopters, which operates in the Las Vegas and Grand Canyon region.

Blue Hawaiian has a fleet of 24 helicopters consisting of Eurocopter AS350s and EC130s. The company generated consolidated revenue of approximately $47 million for the fiscal year that ended Dec. 31, a news release said.

“Air Methods is very pleased to have completed the acquisition of Blue Hawaiian, a ‘blue chip’ tour company with best-in-class air fleet pilots, management and tours. The addition of Blue Hawaiian significantly strengthens Air Methods’ tourism division and continues our focus on vertical integration and the search for key aviation adjacencies to our core business,” said Aaron Todd, Air Methods’ chief executive officer, in the news release.

Officials at Blue Hawaiian and Air Methods could not be reached by phone and email for comment Monday.

However, David Chevalier, Blue Hawaiian’s chief executive officer, said in a news release: “Blue Hawaiian is a dominant force in the strong Hawaiian air tour market. The efficiency and synergies between Air Methods and its existing tour operator, Sundance Helicopters, will benefit the core strength of Blue Hawaiian and the entire group.”

Air Methods’ air medical services division is the largest provider of air medical transport services in the United States, the company said. Its United Rotorcraft Division specializes in the design and manufacture of aeromedical and aerospace technology.

The tourism division now will include Blue Hawaiian and Sundance, which Air Methods acquired in 2012.

Air Methods’ fleet of owned, leased or maintained aircraft includes more than 400 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

Over the years, Blue Hawaiian has garnered numerous awards from the community, the industry and the federal government.

It was the first helicopter tour company to receive certification in the Platinum Program of Safety through the Helicopter Association International, according to Blue Hawaiian. The objective of the award is to bring a positive change in the safety culture in the civil helicopter industry.

From 1998 to 2007, the Federal Aviation Administration honored the company’s maintenance department with its Certificate of Excellence “Diamond Award.”

The company also has been named a favorite of travel guides.

Blue Hawaiian has seen its share of tragedies as well.

On Nov. 10, 2011, five people died when a Eurocopter EC130 B4 helicopter struck mountainous terrain near Pukoo on Molokai. The pilot and all four passengers died, and the helicopter was substantially damaged. The helicopter was registered to Nevada Helicopters Leasing and operated by Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, according to information from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The incident is still under investigation.

On July 21, 2000, seven people died when an Aerospatiale AS355 F1 helicopter registered to and operated by Helicopter Consultants of Maui, doing business as Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, struck mountainous terrain while descending in Iao Valley, the NTSB said.

The noninstrument-rated pilot and all six passengers died, and the helicopter was destroyed.

NTSB said an investigation revealed that the pilot had encountered poor visibility in the vicinity of the accident site and likely became disoriented regarding his location relative to terrain.

The NTSB determined that the probable causes of the crash were the pilot’s “inadequate decision” to continue to fly by visual references instead of by instruments due to the poor visibility and weather conditions and for his failure to maintain terrain clearance, resulting in a crash. A contributing factor was the low cloud ceiling.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at