An investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board in Alaska will lead the inquiry into a fatal helicopter crash in Hawaii.

The bodies of six people have been recovered following the crash of a sightseeing helicopter Thursday on Kauai island. Seven people, including the pilot, were on board when the aircraft went down. The search continues for the seventh person.

"We have recovered six sets of remains. There are no indications of survivors," said Kauai Fire Department Battalion Chief Gary Hudson.

The helicopter crashed in one of Hawaii's most mountainous and remote coastlines.

"Anyone who is familiar with the Na Pali Coast knows it can be clear in the morning, and with the trade winds we do have, weather can roll in, including fog, just like it did today with our operations as well," Hudson said Friday.

The NTSB will be part of the investigation when conditions improve, Hudson said, adding that an Alaskan will head the team. 

NTSB Alaska Chief Clint Johnson said Brice Banning is expected to arrive in Hawaii Saturday. He will serve as lead investigator with the job to try and find out why the helicopter crashed 45 minutes before its scheduled return.

Banning has been with NTSB Alaska for nearly 10 years. He investigated the June 2019 crash of a skydiving plane on the island of Oahu that killed all 11 people on the flight.

Hawaii's U.S Rep. Ed Case on Friday called for greater regulation of the industry. 


In a statement, Case wrote in part:

"Tour helicopter and small aircraft operations are not safe, and innocent lives are paying the price.

We know this not only because of repeated fatal accidents and other incidents over the years, but because the National Transportation Safety Board, responsible for analyzing all such accidents, has placed safety improvements for such operations on its highest priority list. We further know that the Federal Aviation Administration, responsible for regulating our nation’s airspace, has not taken the NTSB’s concerns seriously."

Jes Stugelmayer contributed to this report.

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