NTSB: Kobe Bryant's Helicopter Lacked Warning System; Wasn't Required by FAA

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2020

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 29:  Fans and players pay tribute to the late Kobe Bryant during the round 18 NBL match between Melbourne United and the Perth Wildcats at Melbourne Arena on January 29, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Federal officials said Tuesday the helicopter involved in the crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday morning that killed Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and eight others didn't feature the terrain warning system recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board.

ESPN reported it's unclear whether the system, which the Federal Aviation Administration only voted to require on air ambulances and not other helicopters, would have prevented the crash.

"This is a pretty steep descent at high speed," Jennifer Homendy of the NTSB said. "We know that this was a high-energy impact crash."

FAA officials stated the system "could trigger too many false alarms that might detract from safety" in their decision not to force the inclusion of the warning system on all helicopters, a ruling the NTSB called "unacceptable," but it did not push for further changes, per ESPN.

Alex Johnson and Diana Dasrath of NBC News reported Ara Zobayan, the chief pilot at Island Express Helicopters, had logged over 8,000 flight hours in more than 10 years with the company. He was given special clearance to fly Sunday amid foggy conditions in the Los Angeles area.

Homendy said a preliminary NTSB report on the crash is expected within the next 10 days, though their full evaluation won't be available for up to a year-and-a-half, per NBC.

At this point, "it's still not certain what caused the helicopter to crash" on its way to a girls' basketball game in Thousand Oaks, California, according to Christina Maxouris, Holly Yan and Darran Simon of CNN on Wednesday.

Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna, two of her teammates, their parents and an assistant coach were among the others on the helicopter Sunday.

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