HONOLULU (KHON2) — A helicopter that crashed in a lava field on June 8 was separated by more than 700 feet from its tail boom, according to a preliminary report by investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board.

The flight, an air tour operated by Paradise Helicopters, left Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport with six aboard–the pilot and five passengers.

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The pilot told investigators that the first 30 minutes of the flight were normal but went into an uncontrolled spin after a violent disruption.

A passenger reported that she saw something fall off the helicopter but couldn’t identify exactly what it was.

The NTSB said data showed the helicopter’s airspeed decreased and the aircraft descended rapidly, while also continuing an uncontrolled spin.

The aircraft came to rest after hitting the rough lava field.

Investigators on-site said the fuselage, engine and main rotor system were recovered at the main wreckage site. The tail boom was recovered 762 feet northeast of that point.

Investigators noted the upper left tail boom attachment fastener was missing and the lower left attachment fitting was fractured and fatigued. The other fasteners and fittings were in place.

A review of the accident helicopter’s maintenance records revealed that the most recent tail boom attachment fasteners torque check (per Task #DMC-407-A-53-01-00-00A-72A) was completed on May 4, 2022, at a total airframe time of 22,891.4 flight hours. At the time of the accident, the helicopter had accumulated 23,005.6 flight hours (114.2 flight hours since the torque check), and no additional maintenance had been conducted to that attachment location.”

NTSB Preliminary Report

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K&S Helicopters, who operate as Paradise Helicopters, said they are working with the NTSB, FAA, the pilot and the helicopter manufacturer, Bell to complete a thorough investigation. The company said they voluntarily grounded all Bell 407 aircrafts until safety determinations are made.

Calvin Dorn, Chairman of Paradise Helicopters, told KHON in a statement, “The company is in the process of reviewing the preliminary NTSB findings, and we will continue to work with investigators as they complete a final report.”

The 50-year-old male pilot and an 18-year-old female passenger were reported to have serious injuries and three other passengers reported minor injuries.