Kobe Bryant Helicopter Did Not Have Terrain Awareness and Warning System, NTSB Says

The bodies of all nine passengers aboard the helicopter that crashed in Calabasas, Calif., on Sunday have been recovered, the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner said on Tuesday.

The crash took the lives of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, along with the pilot and six others. Bryant was on his way to his youth basketball camp in Thousand Oaks, Calif., when the helicopter went down in heavy fog.

Coroner’s investigators were able to recover three bodies on the day of the crash. The remaining six were located and recovered on Monday, the coroner’s office said in a statement. All of the crash victims have been publicly identified. On Tuesday afternoon, the coroner’s office confirmed the identities of four victims: Bryant, pilot Ara Zobayan, Sarah Chester, and John Altobelli.

At a press conference on Tuesday, National Transportation Safety Board member Jennifer Homendy said that the helicopter was descending at a rate of more than 2,000 feet per minute at the time of the crash — saying it was a “high-energy impact.”

Homendy noted that the Sikorsky S-76B did not have a “terrain awareness and warning system” — or TAWS, which can provide aural and visual alerts to the pilot if the aircraft gets too close to the ground. She said that in 2004, the NTSB had recommended that all helicopters with six or more seats be outfitted with TAWS.

The Federal Aviation Administration responded in 2006, saying it would consider the suggestion.

“The FAA needs to verify that the current equipment is well suited for helicopter applications and appropriate to the flight regime,” the agency wrote. “Equipment must have a low incidence of ‘false’ or ‘nuisance’ alarms which, if present, detract from the overall safety benefit of the equipment when installed in helicopters.”

The recommendation was not adopted, but TAWS is required for helicopters acting as air ambulances, said FAA spokesman Ian Gregor.

Homendy also said that the NTSB had repeatedly advised that helicopters be required to carry cockpit voice recorders and flight data recorders, which the FAA has also not mandated. The helicopter did not have either device, which could have assisted investigators in reconstructing the accident.

Homendy said that the investigators had recovered the wreckage of the helicopter on Tuesday, and had completed their work on site. A preliminary report is expected within 10 days, while a more detailed investigative report — with the cause and any recommendations — will be issued in 12-18 months.

Homendy said on Monday that the debris field extends about 500-600 feet. Investigators have asked the public to send photos that would show weather conditions in the area on Sunday morning. Homendy said the investigation would include weather, but would focus on other potential factors as well.

Radio transmissions indicate that the pilot was trying to get above the cloud layer just before the crash took place, Homendy said. Earlier, Zobayan had radioed the tower to request “flight following” — a system for tracking aircraft from the tower. But the controller advised that he was too low to be tracked by the system.

According to radar data, the pilot climbed before doing a left descending turn, and crashing into the hillside, Homendy said.

More Biz

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Weinstein Jury Ends First Day of Deliberation With No Verdict

    The jury in the Harvey Weinstein trial has ended the first day of deliberations without reaching a verdict. The jury got the case on Tuesday morning after a six-week trial, in which six women took the stand to accuse the disgraced producer of sexual assault. Weinstein faces five counts, including two counts of predatory sexual [...]

  • CDBaby logo

    CD Baby Is Shutting Down Its Retail Store

    As if the name “CD Baby” weren’t already an anachronism, the independent distributor announced late last week that it is shutting down its retail store, although it will continue to distribute physical product through other channels. “CD Baby’s mission is to help artists monetize and promote their music in the best ways possible,” a message [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Harvey Weinstein Jury Requests to See Evidence During Start of Deliberation

    The jury in the Harvey Weinstein trial asked to be shown the blueprints of his Soho apartment, and some Weinstein emails in which certain accusers’ names were highlighted. The 12-person panel began deliberating earlier on Tuesday morning, after Justice James Burke read them instructions. Weinstein is accused of sexually assaulting Miriam Haley at the Soho [...]

  • American alternative rock band Pearl Jam

    Pearl Jam Tell Congressmen BOSS Ticket-Reform Act Is ‘Flawed’

    UPDATED: The BOSS Act is legislation designed to crack down on improper practices in the secondary ticket market — bots, price-gougers and the like — spearheaded by New Jersey Democratic Congressmen Bill Pascrell and Frank Pallone Jr. The bill, which is officially named the “Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing Act” [...]

  • Sofar Sounds Unveils a Battery of

    Sofar Sounds Unveils a Battery of New Programs for Artists

    Sofar Sounds — which has made a name and a business for itself by staging “secret gigs and intimate concerts” featuring emerging artists for an invited, engaged audience — today unveiled a series of new programs intended to serve artists better, including a new payment model that will see artists paid more for playing bigger [...]

  • The Night Manager Network

    Endeavor Content Takes Minority Stake in 'Night Manager' Producer Ink Factory

    Endeavor Content has taken a minority stake in “The Night Manager” producer The Ink Factory. Under the deal, the “Killing Eve” and “Night Manager” distributor is to set up a bespoke development fund for Ink Factory. The pact will specifically target the U.S. market with high-end TV series developed out of Ink Factory’s U.S. outpost [...]

  • David Coulthard, Sunil Patel, Jake Humphrey

    Sony Pictures Television Takes Minority Stake in U.K. Sports Producer Whisper

    Sony Pictures Television has invested in U.K. sports-focused production outfit Whisper Group. Effective immediately, the business will replace Channel 4’s Indie Growth Fund as a minority stakeholder in Whisper, which has become a leading voice in sports entertainment. Founded by BAFTA-winning CEO Sunil Patel, broadcaster Jake Humphrey and F1 commentator David Coulthard, Whispers covers NFL, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content