Thursday, July 10, 2014

Aerial Banners North: Aerial advertising company has history of hard landings, crash

Disturbing details are emerging over the safety record of the company that wants to bring aerial advertising to Hawaii.

Records indicate that Aerial Banners Inc., which has the same owner as Aerial Banners North, had its waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration revoked because of accidents in the air in Florida — including hard landings, a plane crash, as well as running out of fuel.

The company doesn’t deny that it happened, but a spokesperson says Aerial Banners North has been flying for 20 years and its overall record is still very good.

Aerial Banners North brought its own plane here and its own pilot in an effort to bring the business of aerial advertising to Hawaii. The company has a waiver from the FAA but the waiver also says the company must obey state and county laws.

Records show that in 2007, the company’s waiver to fly banners in Florida was revoked because the company’s plane crashed.

“I guess you can call it suspended rather than revoked, but it was definitely reinstated. A thorough investigation was done and they found Aerial Banners had done nothing wrong,” said Michael McAllister, the company’s attorney.

National Transportation Safety Board records show there were other incidents.

A plane ran out of fuel in 2003, another plane was forced to make a hard landing in 2005, one crashed shortly after take-off in 2006 and the pilot was seriously hurt, and in 2007, a plane was forced to drop its banner.

“Certainly there’s that potential for disaster?” KHON2 asked McAllister.

“Accidents happen. It happens when you’re driving a car. The aviation industry is very safe, aerial advertising is very safe. Are there runway incursions that happen to airlines all the time? Of course there are accidents that happen there,” McAllister said.

McAllister says the important thing is that no one on the ground has ever been hurt and that there was also no damage to any properties in any of the incidents.

The Outdoor Circle says, this is more reason not to let them fly here.

“I think they just lend further insight into the potential harm that this company poses to our way of life in Hawaii. They think they can come here push us around and try and smooth things over no way,” says Marti Townsend, executive director of The Outdoor Circle.

Townsend says there’s no room to allow aerial advertising here and there’s no reason to add potential dangers to the skies.

“I think these incidents, they’re close calls. It’s just luck that no one has been hurt and property has been damaged. From what I understand with what happened, there was potential for that,” she said.

A spokesperson for the mayor’s office sent KHON2 a statement saying the city is aware of the incidents, but officials remain focused on the violations being committed by Aerial Banners North that directly affect our island.

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