Asked by NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman if Freudenberg could have been mistaken, investigators responded, "We do not believe so."
Freudenberg, a former Army helicopter pilot who served in Iraq, had worked for the company just under a year, and probably wanted to avoid revealing that he had taken off with inadequate fuel, which is a violation of FAA regulations, investigators said.
The NTSB said other factors leading to the crash included the pilot's inability to perform a crucial flight maneuver known as autorotation after he ran out of fuel.
In the helicopter he was flying, the pilot must transition to autorotation in two seconds to avoid a crash. The investigation found that the autorotation training the pilot received was not representative of an actual engine failure at cruise speed, which likely contributed to his failure to successfully execute the maneuver.
And the pilot likely was fatigued, having failed to take advantage of his adequate off-duty hours to get sleep, the NTSB said.
One NTSB member voted against the proposed safety alert, saying it diminished other alerts.
"This will be looked at by the (aviation) community as an overreach," said member Earl Weener. "It doesn't make sense."