Kobe Bryant's Pilot Was Disciplined By FAA In 2015 Over Weather-related Flight Violation

Basketball News

The pilot of the helicopter that crashed in January killing Basketball player Kobe Bryant along with eight others was faulted by the FAA for violating rules.

Written By Aanchal Nigam | Mumbai | Updated On:
Kobe Bryant

The pilot of the helicopter that crashed in January killing iconic Basketball player Kobe Bryant along with eight others was reportedly faulted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the violation of flight rules in 2015. According to international media reports, FAA had said that Ara Zobayan, who was piloting an AS350 helicopter in May 2015, violated the rules governing the airspace around Los Angeles International Airport. 

According to the enforcement records released by the FAA under the Freedom of Information Act on February 21, Zobayan was expecting clearance through the airspace but air traffic control had declined to approve the request because of less visibility due to weather. Furthermore, the report also said that while the pilot's communication was taking place, the helicopter improperly violated the flight rules and entered restricted airspace without prior authorisation. The FAA reportedly also stated that if Zobayan had “properly planned and reviewed current weather at LAX, he would have been able to anticipate the required action to transit” the airspace. 

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Zobayan admitted to the error

According to international reports, Zobayan had admitted to his error and even took responsibility for his actions. FAA has also said that the pilot was cooperative and receptive to the counselling and was willing to take any step towards its compliance. However, he was also killed in the crash on January 26 along to Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna along with six others. Furthermore, The National Transportation Safety Boards had also said earlier this month that the two engines of the crashed helicopter in relatively cloudy weather on California hillside had no evidence of a “catastrophic internal failure”. 

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In cloudy conditions near hilly areas, Zobayan was trying to climb up while he was reportedly around 100 feet above the ground. Zobayan was allowed to fly below the flight following radar by the FAA regulations. As per the rules, he would stay legal as long as he could see half a mile and stayed away from the cloud. However, the pilot decided to climb a higher altitude so he could see better. He would have been at 4000 feet, comfortably above the clouds at 2400 feet. 

The main issue was the climbing of 500 vertical feet of clouds. According to experts, it is ‘deliberately’ breaking Visual Flight Rules. Reportedly, it is illegal to fly up to a cloud layer is because of the high possibility of a disaster. 

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(With agency inputs)

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