Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas Sunday morning.
He was 41-years-old.
Kobe was traveling with at least 8 other people in his private helicopter when it went down. A fire broke out. Emergency personnel responded, but nobody on board survived.
With his daughter Vanessa Bryant was among those on board, The cause of the crash after the crash was said to be:
When the helicopter carrying the basketball legend Kobe Bryant crashed into a fogbound mountainside on Sunday, killing all nine people onboard, the pilot who was struggling to avoid the clouds did not have the legal authority to navigate with his instruments because the aircraft owner did not have the necessary federal certification, according to three sources familiar with the charter helicopter company’s operations.
Island Express Helicopters, which owned the Sikorsky S-76B, had a Federal Aviation Administration operating certification that limited its pilots to flying under what are known as visual flight rules, or V.F.R., with at least three miles of visibility and a cloud ceiling no lower than 1,000 feet above the ground.
The company did not have certification for its pilots to fly with instruments, said Kurt Deetz, a pilot and former safety manager at the company.
Credit…Group 3 Aviation, via Associated Press
The helicopter had sophisticated instruments onboard that the F.A.A. has approved for instrument flight, and the pilot, Ara Zobayan, was certified to fly by them. But because of limitations on how the company is approved by the F.A.A. to operate when carrying passengers for hire, he was required to fly only in conditions of sufficient visibility to navigate visually.
The pilot who flew Mr. Bryant and seven others through deteriorating weather was certified to fly under instrument conditions. But the company he worked for was not.
Under good conditions, he said, flying with one pilot is straightforward. But if a flight becomes complex because of shifting cloud layers and patchy communication with air traffic control, he said, as may have been the case on the flight carrying Mr. Bryant and the others, small mistakes can compound into catastrophe.
“With another pilot there, you have help. That’s what this helicopter was designed for,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve flown as the second pilot and had to help correct something.”
The manufacturer said in a statement that the S-76 models can be flown by either one or two pilots, and operators choose “based on regulatory and other requirements specific to their operation.”
Another factor is cost, some pilots said. “The customers don’t want to pay more, so they just go with one,” said David Zara, a commercial jet pilot who has flown regularly as a passenger in Sikorsky S-76s. “Legally, it can be flown with one pilot. Technically, it’s a very bad idea.”
Kobe has famously used a helicopter to travel for years — dating back to when he played for the Lakers. He was known for commuting from Newport Beach, CA to the STAPLES Center in DTLA in his Sikorsky S-76 chopper.
KB is survived by his wife Vanessa, and their four daughters — Gianna, Natalia and Bianca and their newborn Capri.