At about 1600 Eastern time, the helicopter impacted the ground while conducting a post-maintenance test flight. The commercial pilot and pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.
The test flight was to perform a track and balance procedure on the newly installed main rotor blades. Multiple witnesses reported hearing an explosion as the helicopter flew overhead and seeing its empennage depart the aircraft before the initial impact. Another witness stated that the post-crash fire started about five minutes after the initial impact. Several witnesses also reported birds in the area.
The empennage—including the vertical and horizontal stabilizers, a portion of the tail boom and the tail rotor—were found about 300 feet from the main wreckage.