For almost a year, authorities were investigating Kobe Bryant's crash on January 26, 2020. The helicopter tragedy claimed the lives of nine people, including Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna. Now, reports have concluded that the pilot Ara Zobayan was responsible for the incident, as he apparently grew disoriented because of the fog. While these observations were made earlier, this reports comes from federal safety officials.
The pilot in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter and 6 others violated flight rules and may have been disoriented, say investigators.— AJ+ (@ajplus) February 9, 2021
They say he was "legally prohibited" from flying into clouds, but did so anyway. There is no sign of mechanical failure. pic.twitter.com/ztTD1jAskk
As per the reports by federal safety investigators, the pilot violated federal flight standards, which ultimately led to the crash. Robert Sumwalt, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, reported that Zobayan most likely flew through the thick fog and became disoriented. Sumwalt added that he was flying under 'visual flight rules', which meant he needed to see where he was going during the flight.
The group of nine were travelling from Orange County to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, Ventura County for a basketball game. They came across a fog on their way, something which was expected. While Zobayan tried to fly above the clouds, the helicopter apparently plunged downwards and slammed into the Calabasas hills, which claimed everyone's lives instantly.
Following Bryant's highly documented death, attention has been drawn towards installing warning systems in aircrafts – mainly those which carry six or more passengers. The investigation board is also reportedly going to make certain recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which includes installing a warning system in the aircraft. The system will warn the pilot of danger, possibly preventing the crash.
These systems are required in air ambulances, which is why Bryant's helicopter did not have one. Vanessa Bryant (along with others) has been pushing for a sponsored Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act – which will pertain new safety standards for all helicopters.
Zobayan, 50, had a commercial helicopter licence as per the FAA records (via New York Times). He was also a flight instructor. As per KTLA reporter Christina Pascucci, Zobayan taught aspiring helicopter pilots to fly and was loved in their aviation community. He got his commercial license in 2007, and had 8,200 flight hours (as of July 2019). He was reportedly up to date on all FAA's annual medical exams.