Sightseeing Tour Aircraft Accidents

Photo of a seaplane with a lake below it and mountains in the background.

Sightseeing Tour Airplane & Helicopter Accidents

Kreindler & Kreindler holds an insufficiently regulated industry accountable.

When you board a helicopter or airplane for a sightseeing tour, you have a right to feel safe. However, such flights can be subject to underlying hazards.

Kreindler has extensive experience in sightseeing aircraft accidents. We prepare all aspects of the liability and damages case to determine the cause of the accident, identify responsible entities, and obtain an outstanding compensatory award for our clients.

Sightseeing aircraft include:

  • Floatplanes 
  • Seaplanes*
  • Helicopters
  • 2-Seater Aircraft
  • Lighter-than-Air Craft

*While the terms “floatplanes” and “seaplanes” are used interchangeably by some, technically they have different meanings. A floatplane is an amphibious aircraft that can take off and land both on conventional runways, water, and even on skis for snow and ice. A true seaplane can only take off and land on water.

Who knows more about aviation law than attorneys who are also licensed, commercial pilots?

Kreindler Partners and Former Military Pilots (L-R):
Justin Green (USMC)
Brian Alexander (U.S. Army)
Dan Rose (U.S. Navy)

We Know, We Fly

Our staff of aviation attorneys includes pilots, engineers, and a former aviation maintenance specialist. In each case, we assemble a team of litigators, investigators, outside experts, and staff to meticulously examine and prepare all aspects of our claim’s liability and damages to determine the cause of the accident, identify responsible entities, present the strongest case and obtain the highest possible compensatory award for the plaintiffs we represent.

We do not accept anything at face value and will do whatever it takes to obtain the best results for our clients. That includes traveling the globe, questioning authority, and investing the time, money and expertise necessary to uncover the truth and win.
~ Brian Alexander | Kreindler Partner and Attorney

Blue Hawaiian Sightseeing Helicopter Crash

While taking a helicopter tour of the Hawaiian Islands can be awe-inspiring, the risks oftentimes prove to be tragic. Many issues including weather, pilot error, and terrain can cause an otherwise magical sightseeing tour to turn disastrous. In Sheppard v. Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, we represented a New Jersey family killed in an AS350 helicopter crash attributed to the pilot’s loss of situational awareness.

Kreindler in the Media

Kreindler partner Brian Alexander weighs in on New York City tour helicopter crash
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Aviation attorney and Kreindler partner Justin Green on deadly Liberty crash in East River

Bell Heli-Ski Crash in Nevada

Many sightseeing and tour helicopter accidents occur because of dangers associated with the very terrain being visited. We brought a very successful, confidential settlement on behalf of the family of Frank Wells, the president of Disney, who was killed in a Bell 206B3 Heli-Ski crash in Nevada. As part of Wells v. Bell, et al, Kreindler brought successful claims against the operator of the aircraft for the pilot’s negligent operation and against the manufacturer for improper warnings and defects which caused a loss of engine power due to the ingestion of supercooled water pellets

Included in our Sightseeing Tour Aircraft exemplar accident case list are:

Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopter Crash

Flying tour helicopters in the Grand Canyon can prove to be extremely dangerous. Factors from strong winds and crowded airspace to rocky terrain and remote location add to the perilous aspects of flying in the canyon. Additionally, the human error elements of helicopter accidents include improper maintenance, miscalculations, and defective products. In the Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopter crash, we successfully represented three families when a Eurocopter AS350B2 crashed as a result of pilot error and a hydraulic system failure.

  • UNSURPASSED RECORD OF SUCCESS of any law firm for aviation accident law
  • LEADING COUNSEL in nearly every major airline disaster case worldwide
  • OBTAINED THE LARGEST RECOVERY for a single disaster in the history of aviation

East River Mid-Air Collision

The “Hudson River Visual Flight Rules (VFR) Corridor” is a small slice of airspace above the Hudson River in New York City where flight is permitted under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) below 1,100 feet. In Clarke v. USA, we successfully represented the family of one of the victims from a mid-air collision which occurred when a Liberty Helicopter Tours Eurocopter AS350 helicopter was struck from behind by a Piper PA32 airplane over the VFR Corridor. Visibility, pilot awareness, and communication were central issues in the case.

Sightseeing Plane Crash in Alaska

Partner Anthony Tarricone has successfully prosecuted many sightseeing accident cases, including the case of Vetrano v. Teledyne Industries, Inc., et al., U.S. District Court, No. A98-0352, which settled before trial. The Vetrano case involved a sightseeing airplane that crashed in Alaska. As with many accidents in the sightseeing tour industry, this case focused on liability and insurance issues.

Seaplane Crash in Costa Rica

Kreindler partners Brian Alexander and Noah Kushlefsky successfully represented two families in a lawsuit arising from a seaplane crash in Costa Rica.

Partner Brian Alexander on sightseeing tour accidents

While Costa Rican investigators cited pilot error as the sole cause of the crash, our attorneys were suspicious of the probable cause, in particular because of the engine manufacturer taking a significant role in the investigation. A team of Kreindler attorneys and experts flew to Costa Rica to conduct an inspection of the wreckage once it was retrieved from the ocean floor. With the help of U.S. engine experts and an expert metallurgist, our attorneys discovered that a pre-impact power turbine blade failure contributed to the crash. This finding drastically changed the theory of liability and dramatically enhanced the financial recovery for our clients. 

A photo headshot of partner Justin Green.
All these airplanes are flying 1,000 feet or lower, and a lot of the pilots are up there to see the sights, so they may not be seeing and avoiding things as they should be.
~ Justin Green | Kreindler Partner and Attorney

Hudson River Mid-Air Collision

The location of a crash can also be a major factor in why a sightseeing airplane accident can occur, as in the Hudson River Mid-air Collision case. The “Hudson River VFR Corridor” is a narrow piece of airspace above the Hudson River in New York City where flight is permitted under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) below 1,100 feet. The corridor provides amazing views and is popular for sightseeing tours. Pilots may enter this area with no clearance from air traffic control and are to self-announce entry into the corridor as well as to report checkpoints along the river on a designated radio frequency. The corridor quickly becomes very crowded. A fundamental rule of flying is a pilot’s duty to “see and avoid” while ATC has a duty to separate aircraft under their control. Kreindler partners Justin Green and Steven Pounian handled the successful litigation of the deadly mid-air collision. The case focused on the responsibilities and activities of the Teterboro air traffic controller.


A number of the aviation accident cases we’ve litigated have resulted in the highest recoveries on record for our clients and their families.

Sightseeing airplane and helicopter accident rates are historically higher than most other general aviation accidents. This can be due to a combination of factors including poor mission planning, pilot error and air traffic control (ATC) mistakes to weather and terrain issues to mechanical problems, including improper maintenance and defective aviation products. Additionally, the sightseeing aircraft industry isn’t regulated in the same ways as commercial aircraft, and many companies do not carry sufficient insurance.

For instance, for sightseeing airplane accidents that are part of a cruise ship excursion, the cruise company may be held accountable as well if the cruise line sold tickets, promoted the tour, signed passengers up, or shared in the profits for the flight.

Kreindler investigators have been able to find the cause or contributing factors of crashes, even when official government inquiries could not.

Whether it is a mass disaster with hundreds of victims or an individual aviation accident with one victim, Kreindler brings the same fight for justice, meticulous preparation, and commitment to every case that we accept.

Our extensive experience investigating and uncovering contributing factors to successfully litigate sightseeing aircraft accidents includes:

  • liability and insurance issues
  • human-controlled factors
  • third-party involvement
  • product failure
  • crash location

Achieving Justice and Financial Compensation for Sightseeing and Tour Aircraft Crash Victims and Their Families 

Kreindler attorneys are knowledgeable in the nuances of successful tour and sightseeing airplane and helicopter crash litigation. In addition to our in-house assets, we also have access to the country’s foremost experts in helicopter aerodynamics, design, maintenance, and operations. While there are many issues to be addressed in dealing with sightseeing and tour tragedies, we are certain that we can provide the legal advice and resources needed to successfully prosecute all claims on behalf of aircraft accident victims and their families. In many of our cases, it is noteworthy to mention that our investigations were able to find the cause or contributing factors of crashes, even when the official government investigations could not - or worse, were wrong. While most of the settlements are confidential, several of the cases we’ve litigated resulted in the highest recoveries on record for our clients and their families.

Aviation Accident Law Books

We wrote the book

Kreindler has literally written the book on aviation accident law. Our partners have authored numerous highly acclaimed books, articles and treatises, including the leading treatise in the aviation litigation field, Aviation Accident Law.

Look inside the book here

Attorney Referrals Welcome

Kreindler & Kreindler delivers an unparalleled level of expertise to each of the cases we take on. You can feel confident that you are being represented by an exceptional national aviation litigation firm with the resources to bring about successful results.

We are proud of the close professional relationships we have established with attorneys at many law firms throughout the world. Our practice is built on referrals from other lawyers who rely on us for our experience in aviation disasters as well as helicopter accident cases.

Call on Our Experience

Kreindler is one of the largest and most distinguished aviation accident law firms in the world. Since 1950, our attorneys have served as leading counsel in nearly every major commercial aviation disaster litigation. Our staff of attorneys includes pilots, engineers, and a former aviation maintenance specialist. The firm has successfully handled countless private, charter, military, general aviation, and accident cases. Our partners have authored numerous highly acclaimed books, articles, and treatises on aviation litigation.