The Kobe Bryant helicopter was only 100 feet and 12 seconds away from a cloudless sky before crashing into thick fog, killing the basketball star, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, according to federal investigators.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) published a preliminary report on the probe in the January 26 crash in Calabasas, California, suggesting that the pilot was very close to navigating adverse weather conditions and the helicopter to the other side sent to safety.
It stated that the plane was only 100 feet away from leaving the heavy cloud and became more visible.
“If you leave the bottom of the clouds at that high speed at 4,000 feet per minute, you will certainly have lost control of the aircraft,” said Air Safety Advisor Kipp Lau.
The National Transportation Safety Board has released this image with part of the wreck of the fatal crash. The researchers said the helicopter was only 100 feet and 12 seconds away from a cloudless sky before it crashed in thick fog, killing everyone on board
Wreck of the crash: the preliminary report released on Friday suggested that the pilot came very close to navigating the adverse weather conditions and headed the other way for safety
Lau said that pilot Ara Zobayan, 50, could have sent the helicopter out of the crowd 12 seconds later, based on rising at 500 feet per minute.
“As soon as you get out of the clouds, it’s clear. Everything matches the body, “Lau said.
“Now you have a real horizon.”
However, instead of stopping for a short time and continuing to raise altitude, Zobayan seems to have attempted a maneuver to move the plane up and forward to quickly remove the clouds, aviation expert Mike Sagely reported.
“He went into the clouds when he had an emergency,” said Sagely.
The pilot then probably made a fatal turn to the left and steered the aircraft at 180 km / h onto the steep terrain.
Sagely said that turning during the pop-up maneuver is catastrophic. . . 80 to 90 percent of the time. “
The report also describes the contacts of the helicopter pilot with air traffic control in the run-up to the crash, which support these findings.
The pilot flew lower to the ground under special circumstances while navigating bad weather, but seemed to climb just before the crash.
The report states: “The SCT controller then asked the pilot about his intentions, to which he replied that he was climbing to 4,000 feet. There were no further broadcasts. ”
It notes that the helicopter climbed up to 1500 feet above the highway before starting a left turn toward its destination.
The report adds: “Eight seconds later, the plane began to descend and the left turn continued. The descent speed increased to more than 4000 feet per minute (fpm), the ground speed reached 160 knots. ”
Researchers stated that the helicopter showed no signs of engine failure.
Image of a security camera shows the Kobe helicopter flying in the clouds at the moments prior to the crash
Researchers believe that since a tree branch was cut at the crash site, it seems as if the engines were working and rotors were running at the time of impact.
Long-time Orange Coast College baseball coach, John Altobelli, 56, his wife Keri, 46; their daughter Alyssa, 13; Christina Mauser, 38, an assistant basketball coach at the Mamba Sports Academy; 45-year-old Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton (13) all died in the crash alongside Bryant, Gianna and Zobayan.
According to the coroner in Los Angeles County, the death of the victims by a bone trauma is governed as an accident.
The helicopter instrument panel was destroyed during the crash and most of the devices were relocated, the NTSB investigation update revealed. The flight controllers were broken and suffered fire damage.
Friday’s report also provided details about the crash site.
“The wreck was in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains, in a mountain bike park,” de report states.
Friday’s report showed details of the collision location after the helicopter crashed into the hill
The pilot had flown lower under special circumstances while navigating bad weather, but seemed to climb before the crash, as seen in this NTSB image
Flight control was broken and sustained fire damage
‘The impact site was on a slope of around 34⁰. The impact crater had a diameter of 24 feet by 15 feet and 2 feet deep. “
The report also describes the story of a witness who saw the crash of the mountain.
It says: ‘[He] saw a blue and white helicopter emerge from the clouds that went from left to right directly to the left. He judged that things were going fast, on a forward and descending route.
“It started to roll to the left so that he caught a glimpse of his stomach. He observed it for 1 to 2 seconds before it hit the terrain about 50 feet below its position.
Security camera images show the helicopter flying against the clouds at the moments prior to the crash.
The NTSB notes that the helicopter was not equipped with a flight data recorder or cockpit voice recorder, but that was not mandatory.
Authorities said the area is still closed to the public after the January 26 crash due to hazardous materials such as debris, magnesium and other toxins in the soil. It will take some time to completely remove the substances from the area.
The official update comes when the helicopter manufacturer, Sikorsky, urged customers to install a critical warning system that was missing in Bryant’s helicopter.
Researchers announced on Wednesday that the Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS), designed to send an alert when a collision is imminent, was not installed on Bryant’s helicopter.
According to the coroner in Los Angeles County, the death of the victims by a bone trauma is governed as an accident
The route that the helicopter took before it crashed
Although Sikorsky regularly provides updates on technology updates, sources told TMZ that they call customers and make it a top priority after Bryant’s death.
NTSB officials say it’s too early to tell if a TAWS on Bryant’s Sikorsky helicopter could have prevented the crash.
But they think it should have been installed on the plane and they criticized federal regulators for not implementing the NTSB recommendation more than ten years ago to make such equipment mandatory on helicopters with six or more passenger seats.
The warning system is required in medical helicopters, but not in commercial ones such as Bryant’s.
The death of the basketball star has emphasized the debate about the merits of the warning systems.
Although the crash has meant that warning systems have to be installed in more helicopters, regulators and pilots have since expressed the fear that the instrument may trigger too many alarms and may prove to be distracting.
“Another warning system yelling at you doesn’t help,” said Brian Alexander, a helicopter pilot and aviation lawyer.
“You don’t want to flood the pilot.”
National Transportation Safety Board officials say it’s too early to say whether a TAWS on Bryant’s Sikorsky helicopter could have prevented the crash
The warning system is required in medical helicopters, but not in commercial ones such as Bryant’s
Although some pilots believe that TAWS is unnecessary and call its warnings as “annoying alarms,” Peter Goelz, a former NTSB director, said there is “no reasonable excuse” for not installing the system on all choppers.
“From a safety point of view, you want all available safety improvements,” he said. “The tradeoff is worth it.”
The NTSB recommended that the FFA demand the system after a Sikorsky S-76A transported workers to an offshore drilling vessel crashed in the Gulf of Mexico near Galveston, Texas, killing all 10 people on board in 2004.
Ten years later, the FAA only required such systems on air ambulances.
FAA officials had questioned the value of such technology on helicopters, which tend to fly close to buildings and the ground and could trigger too many alarms.
Bill English, researcher from the Major Investigations Division of the NTSB, said it was not yet clear whether “TAWS and this scenario are interrelated.”
The pilot knew the air well over Los Angeles and was used to flying Bryant and other celebrities.
The full investigation into the crash, including every role that played heavy fog, is not expected for at least a year.
The latest revelations from researchers come when Kobe’s wife Vanessa went to Instagram on Friday to share an invitation for a public commemoration for her deceased husband and daughter.
The image included 24 butterflies in purple and yellow, those are the colors of the Lakers, with which the basketball team played Kobe for 20 years.
The event takes place on February 24 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Fans gather at a Kobe Bryant memorial for Staples Center