NTSB to determine probable cause in Kobe Bryant helicopter crash on Feb 9

WASHINGTON DC (Jan 13, 2021) — The National Transportation Safety Board announced Wednesday its intent to hold a public board meeting Feb. 9, 2021, 9:30 a.m. (EST), to determine the probable cause of the fatal, Jan. 26, 2020, helicopter crash near Calabasas, California.

Bryant, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, her teammate Alyssa Altobelli and her parents John and Keri, her teammate Payton Chester and her mother Sarah, assistant coach Christina Mauser, and pilot Arya Zobayan perished in a helicopter crash on what was a foggy morning in Southern California on January 26, 2020.

The Sikorsky S-76B helicopter collided with hilly terrain and was destroyed by impact forces and fire. The pilot and eight passengers were fatally injured. The helicopter operated by Island Express Helicopters Inc., was on an on-demand passenger, visual flight rules flight, from John Wayne-Orange County Airport, Santa Ana, California, to Camarillo Airport, Camarillo, California.

In keeping with established federal and local social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, while also ensuring the NTSB’s compliance with the Government in the Sunshine Act, the board meeting for this investigation will be webcast to the public, with the board members and investigative staff meeting virtually. There will be no physical gathering to facilitate the board meeting.

WHO: NTSB investigative staff and board members.

WHAT: A webcast of a virtual board meeting.

WHEN: Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, 9:30 a.m. (EST).

HOW: The board meeting will be webcast only, there will not be a public gathering of NTSB investigative staff or board members. A link to the webcast will be available shortly before the start of the meeting at http://ntsb.windrosemedia.com/.

NTSB Issues Investigative Update on Sikorsky Helicopter Crash of February 7, 2020

The National Transportation Safety Board issued an investigative update Friday for its ongoing investigation of the fatal, Jan. 26, 2020, helicopter crash near Calabasas, California. 

The Sikorsky S-76B helicopter collided with hilly terrain and was destroyed by impact forces and fire. The pilot and eight passengers were fatally injured. The helicopter operated by Island Express Helicopters Inc., was on an on-demand passenger visual flight rules flight from John Wayne-Orange County Airport, in Santa Ana, California, to Camarillo Airport, in Camarillo, California.

“Our investigators have already developed a substantial amount of evidence about the circumstances of this tragic crash,” said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. “And we are confident that we will be able to determine its cause as well as any factors that contributed to it so we can make safety recommendations to prevent accidents like this from occurring again.”

According to the investigative update, all significant components of the helicopter were located within the wreckage area. Examination of the main and tail rotor assemblies found damage consistent with powered rotation at the time of impact. The initial point of impact consisted of highly fragmented cabin and cockpit debris. 

The main wreckage was about 127 feet from the impact and consisted of the empennage/tailboom, both engines, avionics boxes, and portions of the cockpit instrument panel. The entire fuselage/cabin and both engines were subjected to a postcrash fire. The cockpit experienced extreme fragmentation. The instrument panel was destroyed, and most instruments were displaced from their panel mounts. Flight controls were fragmented and fire damaged.

The helicopter was not equipped with a flight data recorder or cockpit voice recorder nor was it required to be for the accident flight. The NTSB has been issuing recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration to require recorders on helicopters since 1999. Currently, safety recommendations A-13-12 and A-13-13 are the only open recommendations that address recorders in helicopters.

The helicopter operator, Island Express Helicopters, held an FAA Part 135 operating certificate ISHA094F, for on-demand VFR-only operations, since 1998 and conducted offshore oil industry support flights and charter flights. The company’s operations specifications document listed six helicopters including the accident aircraft: 1 SK-76A, 2 SK-76B, 2 AS-350-B2 and 1 AS-350-BA.

The investigative update includes a summary of the ATC and radar data, weather information as well as a summary of video and photos provided by witnesses depicting the weather at the time of the accident.

The information in the update is preliminary and subject to change as the NTSB’s investigation progresses. Analysis of the accident facts, along with conclusions and a determination of probable cause, will come at a later date when the final report on the investigation is completed. As such, no conclusions about how the incident happened should be drawn from the information contained within the investigative update.

The full investigative update is available at https://go.usa.gov/xd84a

Additional information about this investigation is available on the accident webpage: https://go.usa.gov/xd8ah.

Mario Lotmore

Mario Lotmore is originally from The Bahamas and for the last seven years has called Mukilteo, WA his home. Having lived in every region of the United States has exposed him to various cultures, people, and approaches to life. Lotmore created the Lynnwood Times to represent the character of a diverse and growing Lynnwood. The launching of the city’s community newspaper will only help bring neighborhoods together. Lotmore was an industrial engineer by trade and proven success implementing and managing lean accountable processes and policies within his eighteen years of operations excellence, strategic development, and project management in the aerospace, manufacturing, and banking industries. Over his career he has saved and created hundreds of union and non-union jobs. Lotmore is the President of a Homeowner Association, an active Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics volunteer in his community, and former Boeing 747 Diversity Council leader. Mario’s talent is finding “that recipe” of shared destiny to effectively improve the quality of life for others.

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