Wreckage, flight crew recovered from Hawai‘i Life Flight in deep waters between Maui, Big Island
Federal authorities have recovered the wreckage of the Hawai‘i Life Flight air ambulance N13GZ that crashed Dec. 15, 2022, into the Maui Channel off the coast of Kaupo, Maui, while flying to Waimea on the Big Island to pick up a patient.
The National Transportation Safety Board said the wreckage was located at about 5:30 a.m. Jan. 9 at a depth of about 6,420 feet, which was about 1,200 feet south of the last data point received from the airplane. The pilot, a flight paramedic and a flight nurse, who were aboard the air ambulance when it crashed and fatally injured, and the majority of the wreckage were recovered Jan. 10.
The wreckage will be transported to a secure location in Hawai‘i for further examination. The airplane’s cockpit voice recorder, the cockpit image recorder and other electronic components will be transported to the National Transportation Safety Board laboratory in Washington.
The Raytheon Aircraft Co., formerly Beech, C90A twin-engine, turbine-powered airplane operated by Hawai’i Life Flight crashed late on the night of Dec. 15. The preliminary report for the accident was published earlier this month and is available online.
Guardian Flight, parent company of Hawai‘i Life Flight, made arrangements for the deepwater search operation to locate and recover the air ambulance flight crew and wreckage.
The search began Jan. 8. A search vessel, the MV Island Pride, operated by Ocean Infinity arrived Jan. 7 off the coast of O‘ahu. The National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge, the chief of the agency’s Office of Transportation Disaster Assistance, the director of safety for Guardian Flight and a project manager with prior experience in over-water loss recoveries were aboard when the search began.
The search effort involved the use of side-scan and multibeam sonar, autonomous underwater vehicles and a remotely operated vehicle to search an area about 54 square miles at depths ranging from 4,500 to 7,500 feet. The wreckage and crew were located after the search vessel’s high precision acoustic positioning system detected a series of pings from the acoustic beacon installed on the air ambulance’s cockpit voice recorder.
The investigation into the crash is expected to be completed in 12 to 24 months.