A chartered airplane operated by Maui Air / Volcano Air Tours carrying five government officials crashed shortly after taking off from Lana’i Airport Wednesday, killing three people and injuring three others.
Honolulu’s KITV reported those killed in the crash were the pilot of the plane and two Maui County Department of Planning employees. Two other employees of the same agency were in critical condition and a deputy attorney for Corporation Counsel was in serious condition. The survivors were airlifted to Queen’s Medical Center for treatment of burns and other injuries.
The crash occurred one mile southeast of the airport in an old pineapple field on the island of Lana’i, igniting a brush fire. Firefighters managed to get the blaze under control later Wednesday night.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokesman Ian Gregor told the press that the airplane was a twin-engine Piper PA31. The aircraft burned upon impact.
The group had been on the island for a Lanai Planning Commission Meeting, which was scheduled to end at 8:30 p.m. Maui County chartered a return flight for the officials on Maui Air, which reportedly left at 9:05 p.m. The Maui Fire Department received a 911 call at 9:23 p.m. from the deputy attorney aboard the aircraft, who said he had been in a plane crash.
According to the Honolulu Star Advertiser, FAA records show the airplane was built in 1975 and had its air worthiness certificate issued in 2002.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the crash with assistance from the FAA.
The Lana’i crash comes three months after the crash of a Honolulu-bound commuter plane off the north shore of Molokai. That crash killed Hawai’i State Health Department Director Loretta Fuddy, who authorized the release of President Obama’s long-form birth certificate.