Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others lost their lives during a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. The group was heading to one of Gianna's basketball games at Thousand Oaks. First respondents checked the scened from their helicopter and found no survivors.
National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) recently revealed that Kobe Bryant's helicopter was not equipped with a terrain avoidance and warning system (TAWS). It also did not include a flight data recorder (FDR) or cockpit voice recorder (CVR). Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is recommended these features for a helicopter which carries six passengers or more. However, the FAA did not utilize the recommendation. NTSB's Jennifer Homendy said that TAWS could have helped the pilot during the crash.
The LA Country Coroner's Office stated that all the nine bodies have been recovered from the crash site. However, the victims are unidentified. Body examinations are also going on. In a video released by the agency, NTSB officials are seen on the crash site, picking up pieces of the debris. The Sikorsky S-76 is seen scattered over the hill, and only a piece of the tail is intact. The pieces will be shipped to Arizona, where they will be reassembled.
According to NTSB, the helicopter was travelling at a speed of 2,000 feet per minute. It was at 2,300 feet before losing all communication. The pilot was climbing to a higher altitude to avoid a cloud layer.
According to ESPN, the pilot contacted ATC before the crash, informing that the helicopter had begun ascension. ATC, however, told the pilot that they were too low for flight following and hence could not be picked up by the radar. Recent reports confirm that the pilot had received permission to fly below the usual level due to bad weather conditions. After the communication ended, no distress call was received. The helicopter had been cleared for flight and took off from the John Wayne airport at 9:06 AM on Sunday. They flew from Boyle heights and circled Glendale before reaching the crash destinations.
According to reports, the helicopter turned left at 9:40 AM to head southeast. However, it disappeared into the fog surrounding the area. They were flying at around 2,000 level above sea level with a speed of 184 mph. While crashing, the helicopter was reportedly travelling at a speed for 45 mph which is approximately 4,000 feet per minute. The Sikorsky S-76 crashed near Las Virgenes Road and Willow Glen street in Calabasas. Locals called 911 at 9:47 AM. Responders on the scene included 56 fire personnel (firefighters, a helicopter with paramedics and hand crews) and sheriff's deputies.
According to the LA County Fire Chief Daryl Osby, the fire had spread a quarter of an acre. Jennifer Homendy, a National Transport Safety Board member, stated that pieces of the helicopter were scattered across 600 feet. One of the hills had an impact area. The tail was down on the left, the fuselage was on the other side and the main rotor ended up hundred yards beyond the scene.
Though the exact reason for the crash is unknown, poor weather is the likely cause. Poor visibility near the area of Burbank (north of the helicopter) and Van Nuys (northwest of the helicopter) were reported. Weather control meteorologist Heather Tesch also reported low clouds and thick fog in the area.
According to reports, the NTSB will be assigning a Go Team to find the actual cause for the crash. A report including the highlight findings should be released in 10 days. A detailed investigation about the pilot's history, chopper maintenance and record of the owner and operator will be conducted. Reports claim that an official statement about the crash might be released after a year.