Sightseeing Helicopter Crash-lands in Southern Japan Near Mr. Aso, Seriously Injuring Pilot, 2 Foreign Tourists

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The helicopter that crash-landed in Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, on Monday afternoon

KUMAMOTO ― A sightseeing helicopter crash-landed on Monday afternoon in the mountains of Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, causing serious injuries to three people aboard.

Two foreign passengers, both in their 30s, and the pilot in his 50s were all conscious but suffering a broken hip and other injuries.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry designated the incident as an aviation accident. The Japan Transport Safety Board dispatched three aviation accident inspectors for investigation.

According to the Aso Police Station, the transport ministry and other sources, the helicopter is owned by Okayama-based Takumi Enterprise and uses Aso City’s theme park Aso Cuddly Dominion as a landing platform.

The two passengers signed up for a 10-minute sightseeing flight around the crater of Mt. Aso and the helicopter departed the facility at around 11:50 a.m. The pilot noticed a drop in engine revolutions and made an emergency landing.

Takumi Enterprise President Takumi Morioka said, “An inspection that morning found no issues. We will investigate the cause as soon as possible.”