Pilot crosses bad weather flight rules in Kobe Bryant helicopter crash, says NTSB

The remarks were made at a meeting of the National Road Safety Board to address the official cause of the January 26, 2020 accident, in which Bryant, his daughter, the pilot and six other people died.

The meeting, which is still ongoing on Tuesday morning, will make possible long-term safety recommendations in the wake of the accident, including stronger calls for increased safety training for helicopter pilots on how to avoid accidental flight into the clouds.

“We’re using an accident instead of an accident,” said Bruce Landsberg, vice president of the NTSB. “Accident (van) just something unpredictable, unpredictable if you will. Unfortunately, that was not the case. “

During the meeting, investigators said Ara Zobayan, a pilot of Island Express, could feel pressure on a key customer and continued deteriorating weather conditions.

He was said to have climbed into a “cloud wall” according to witnesses, possibly disoriented, and unconsciously turned into a cloud-covered hillside that he knew was there.

“It’s not that … the pilot flew all the way, he didn’t know where the hills were, and he crashed into the side of a hill,” said Robert Sumwalt, president of the NTSB.

Investigators said the helicopter could fly to the clouds and the pilot operated solely by reference to the instruments – the so-called instrument flight rules or IFR – but the Island Express charter company’s agreement with the FAA only allowed flights where the pilot was able to to maintain contact with the ground, known as Visual Flight Rules or VFR.

“It appears that these flights should have been operated under IFR,” Sumwalt said.

All 9 people on board were killed

The helicopter crashed into hilly terrain in foggy conditions in Calabasas. Passengers from Orange County went to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thamand Oaks for a youth basketball game in which Kobe Bryant was the coach, and Gianna and two others on board had to play.
Young athletes, baseball coach and mothers.  What we know about the others in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant

The accident, along with 41-year-old Bryant and 13-year-old Gianna, claimed the lives of his teammates, 13-year-old Payton Chester and 14-year-old Alyssa Altobelli; Payton’s mother, Sarah Chester, 45; Alyssa’s parents are Keri Altobelli (46) and John Altobelli (56); assistant coach Christina Mauser (38); and the 50-year-old Zobayan pilot.

According to the coroner’s office, he died of trauma caused by dull force on all nine decks, and the manner of death was accidental.

Bryant, a 41-year-old, 18-time All Star who has won five NBA tournaments with the Los Angeles Lakers, has toured Thousand Oaks several times as the academy’s coach.

The pilot seemed to be disoriented in the fog, earlier documents show

The weather and visibility were worrying before the flight, and Zobayan had previously discussed a plan for moving forward in a group text. the trip, NTSB documents issued last year show. That morning, visibility was so low that the Los Angeles Police Department decided to land his helicopter.
During the trip, the pilot appeared to be disoriented in the fog, according to documents released by the NTSB last year.
During the flight, Zobayan told a controller in a final communication that he would climb 4,000 meters to get past the clouds, the NTSB said last year.
The radar showed that around 9:45 a.m., the craft had risen to about 2,300 feet above sea level and was turning left before descending quickly. he fell off the radar at about 1,200 feet near the accident, the NTSB said.

The flight’s first 911 call arrived at 9:47 a.m., said Alex Villanueva, Los Angeles County Sheriff.

That’s what happened in the minutes before Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crashed

The helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas and found parts scattered over an area of ​​up to 600 meters, the NTSB said days after the incident.

In the February 2020 update of the NTSB on the accident investigation, the panel stated that there was no evidence of engine failure. He released a preliminary report later this month underlining the overcast weather for that day.
Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, sued the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Sheriff Villanueva after the crash for eight MPs who photographed at the scene and the victims who died. Due to a leak in the department, TMZ reported news and fans flocked to the scene.

California Govin Newsom signed a privacy violation bill in September that would make it illegal for first responders to share “photos of a deceased person” at a crime scene “for purposes other than official law enforcement.”

Under the new Kobe Bryant Act, which came into force this year, a first respondent found guilty of a misdemeanor could be fined up to $ 1,000 per violation.

CNN’s Jason Hanna contributed to the report.