The widow of a popular helicopter pilot who died in a crash that shocked WA has criticised the preliminary report into the disaster, claiming it appeared to blame her late husband — an “innocent party who is no longer here to defend himself”. Sophie Thomas — who watched in horror as the Robinson R44 helicopter being flown by her husband Troy and carrying their daughter Mia crashed in Broome on July 4 — says the Australian Transport Safety Bureau report released today had missed “some major facts”. Mia, who was badly injured, lost her best friend Amber, 12, in the crash. And MaddisonDown, a teacher’s aide at the girls’ Falcon primary school, was seriously injured. Speaking on behalf of the family, Mrs Thomas said: “In our opinion we feel some major facts in regards to the maintenance and supposed test flight have been missed in the report which subsequently appears to infer blame on an innocent party who is no longer here to defend himself.” The preliminary findings from the investigation revealed Mr Thomas had reported feeling unusual vibrations through the tail rotor pedals several days earlier on a flight from Broome Airport to Bilingurr — a sensation he likened to having his feet tapped by spoons — and requested maintenance engineers to inspect the helicopter. His father, Rhys Thomas, told The West Australian his eldest son had told him “that he had grounded the helicopter and organised the maintenance engineer to inspect the aircraft to determine the fault”. “I agreed with him that was the right decision,” Rhys, who is an experienced helicopter pilot, said. The latest revelations from the crash, found in the report, also said that the maintenance engineer who inspected the R44 had “found no defects”. “A maintenance pilot started the helicopter, and while ground running the R44 could not feel any vibration through the pedals. In addition, the maintenance engineer leant into the cabin and placed their hands on the pedals, and also could not feel any vibration,” the report stated. The report also said that because of the size of the yard and concerns over securing the site, the maintenance pilot elected not to test fly the helicopter — meaning the tail rotor system was never assessed under load. It said Mr Thomas was told about the findings and was instructed to conduct a check flight. “The maintenance pilot also stated that the owner was told that no changes were made to the balance weights, that the helicopter had not been flown, and that an instruction from the engineer to conduct a check flight was relayed,” the report said. Rhys Thomas said: “In my opinion, the aircraft should have remained grounded ... until the fault that caused the vibration was found”.