Company behind Oahu plane crash did not have proper permits

  • The Oahu Parachute Center near Dillingham Airfield in Waialua, Oahu. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones, File)

HONOLULU — The Hawaii skydiving company that was operating a plane that crashed and killed 11 people last month did not have the proper permits, according to documents released by the state Wednesday.

The documents show Oahu Parachute Center was “not in good standing” with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs as of April. It was also not a registered tenant for the state land it occupied at the airport.

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The owner, George Rivera, was granted a permit in 2010 for a company under a different name — Hawaii Parachute Center — that allowed parachute repairs and rigging, but not skydiving operations.

State business records show Oahu Parachute Center was established in 2017, but the state never granted the company a permit to give skydiving tours.

Two years later, on April 16, the Department of Transportation Airports Division sent Rivera a cease and desist letter giving him until May 15 to produce tax and other business documents.

Then, on June 5 — two weeks before the crash — officials sent a permit application for skydiving operations to Rivera.

The application gave him 30 days to produce documents including tax clearance certificates for both the county and the state, a certificate of good standing from the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, a certificate of registration and proof of ownership for the plane, the aircraft’s log books and inspection records, a certification of airworthiness and proof of insurance.

It also required payment of nearly $30,000 for a security deposit and rent for the space the company was using on state airport land.

Rivera did not submit the permitting documents before the plane rolled upside down and crashed shortly after takeoff on June 21. All 11 people on board were killed in what became the deadliest civil aviation crash in the U.S. since 2011.

Five days after the crash the state revoked the 2010 permit and evicted the company from its space at the airport, citing violations.

The June 26 notice said the owner failed to obtain state approval to operate as a skydiving company and that it did not register the plane that crashed.

The 2010 permit was issued “for the purpose of Parachute Loft with the understanding that (Hawaii Parachute Center) was conducting activities at the airport as a parachute rigger,” the letter said.

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It is not clear why the company was allowed to take customers skydiving without the required permits. A request for further information from the Department of Transportation was denied. Attempts to contact George Rivera were unsuccessful.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the plane was operated by Oahu Parachute Center but was owned by N80896 LLC, a California company.

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