CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Andrew Kluger, chairman and CEO of Hawaii Air Ambulance, stood with one of the company's planes at the Lagoon Drive hangar yesterday.
Air Ambulance CEO orders full inspection
It may be another day or two before Hawaii Air Ambulance airplanes take to the skies again.
Company CEO Andrew Kluger said he instructed the independent evaluators he hired to inspect his planes to take their time and do a thorough job, as if it was an annual safety inspection.
The extra care will be taken "so we are sure that every aircraft we have will satisfy the concerns of the community at large like those expressed by the Kapiolani nurses this weekend," Kluger said.
Two nurses from Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children fly with Hawaii Air Ambulance to accompany neonatal patients from the neighbor islands to Oahu. They said they will not return to the skies aboard company aircraft -- at least for now.
For all other patients, members of Hawaii Air Ambulance's own medical staff are on board.
The Kapiolani nurses flew aboard a company aircraft the night after last week's crash on Maui but seemed nervous when they returned, Kluger said. That's when he decided to voluntarily ground all his aircraft to undergo safety inspections.
Hawaii Air Ambulance is still transporting patients, however, aboard U.S. Coast Guard and other aircraft.
Coast Guard C-130 aircraft have flown nine flights since Thursday, transporting 23 patients to Oahu from the Big Island, Maui and Kauai, said Cmdr. Frank Genco, chief of the Coast Guard's Search and Rescue operation in the Pacific.
But with one C-130 searching for a missing canoe paddler off Kwajalein, about 2,000 miles southwest of Hawaii, and another helping with the search for a missing swimmer off Portlock, Genco said his staff is being stretched to its limits.
"Right now we've called in additional flight crews to handle the load. And up to this point we have not had to turn down any missions," he said.
Genco said he had to call for assistance from the Navy in the Portlock search yesterday to pick up a patient from the Big Island.
Kluger said he turned over all company records on the aircraft that crashed Wednesday and on pilot Peter Miller to National Transportation Safety Board investigators. He said the investigators have not indicated a possible cause and he will not speculate.