Kobe Bryant crash: Drone footage shows wreckage as officials say helicopter lacked crucial warning system

National Transportation Safety Board says the late NBA star's aircraft did not feature a black box or TAWS

Chris Riotta
New York
Wednesday 29 January 2020 17:42 GMT
NTSB investigate Kobe Bryant helicopter crash site

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Kobe Bryant’s helicopter was not equipped with a terrain awareness and warning system, or Taws, which officials said “certainly” could have helped before it crashed into a hillside, killing all nine people onboard the aircraft.

“Certainly, Taws could have helped,” Jennifer Homendy, member of the National Transportation Safety Board, told reporters on Tuesday, describing the fatal incident as a “high-energy impact crash”.

Air Traffic Control lost all contact with the helicopter at 2,300ft in the air, Ms Homendy said, when it began to plunge at a rate of more than 2,000ft a minute towards the hills of Calabasas.

A new drone video released by the National Transportation Safety Board meanwhile shows the site of the wreckage, with debris from the private aircraft strewn across the hillside after a massive fire broke out following the deadly crash.

The Los Angeles Police Department reported poor visibility and grounded its Air Support Division on the Sunday morning of the crash.

The late NBA star was accompanied in the helicopter with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, a beloved baseball coach and multiple families.

The Federal Aviation Administration does not require aircraft like the Sikorsky S-76B, often considered one of the most elite helicopters for private and commercial use, to have Taws during flights.

The National Transportation Board has previously recommended the agency implement a requirement for helicopters to feature Taws, which provides a warning to pilots if the aircraft is heading towards terrain.

Bryant’s helicopter was also not required to have a black box, and did not feature one on board.

The lack of the electronic recording device, meant to aid investigators probing aviation accidents, could hamper efforts to determine the cause of the crash.

Ara Zobayan, the highly-experienced pilot involved in the crash, was rated to fly in fog and other low visibility conditions, and had reportedly received special clearances to conduct the flight on the day of the crash.

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