Kobe Bryant crash pilot disoriented in clouds, NTSB

The helicopter crash in which Kobe Bryant and eight other people died in California last year was likely caused by the pilot’s decision to fly into the clouds. blinding him and causing him to lose control of the helicopter.

Bryant died when the helicopter crashed into a fog-covered hill near Calabasas, California., bursting into flames. Everyone on board died, including the pilot, Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna, two teenagers who were on his basketball team, some of the children’s parents and an assistant coach.

NTSB summed up the incident as a” bad decision ” to fly at excessive speed in bad weather, and the helicopter was not in a controlled flight pattern when it crashed into the hillside near virgins Road and Willow Glen Street at 9:45 a.m.

The NTSB board made 13 findings in fact, including that the pilot lost visual references in the clouds, made a bad decision to fly at excessive speed, and experienced spatial disorientation.

Investigators said the actions of air traffic controllers did not lead to the crash and rejected Island Express’s suggestions in that regard. Island Express sued the FAA, claiming that its air traffic controllers were to blame for the accident.

From 2010 to 2019, the NTSB found 184 fatal air accidents related to space disorientation, including 20 involving helicopters.

The NTSB began investigating the accident shortly after it occurred, more than a year ago. Researchers conducted nearly two dozen interviews and collected more than 1,800 pages of evidence, including weather analysis, maintenance records, training records, witness reports and emails.

In this instance, the board recommended that charter helicopters be required to use flight data monitoring programs and safety management systems, and pilots be required to complete additional scenario-based training and decision-making training. 

 The NTSB also generally recommends that helicopters have terrain awareness and warning systems, though investigators said TAWS wouldn’t have altered the outcome in this particular crash.