Otago Daily Times

Pilot blamed for Bryant crash



WASHINGTON: The National Transporta­tion Safety Board (NTSB) yesterday cited the pilot’s ‘‘poor decision making’’ as the probable cause of the January 2020 helicopter crash that killed retired NBA star Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others, saying the pilot became disoriente­d and did not follow rules for flying in cloudy weather.

The NTSB cited pilot Ara Zobayan’s ‘‘poor decision to fly in excess of airspeed’’. It said the weather conditions were inconsiste­nt with adverse weather training and resulted in the pilot’s ‘‘spatial disorienta­tion and loss of control’’.

The board also cited Zobayan’s ‘‘likely selfinduce­d pressure’’ to complete the flight.

Zobayan told air traffic controller­s that his helicopter was climbing out of heavy clouds when in fact it was descending, immediatel­y before slamming into a hillside near the town of Calabasas in California, the agency said. Zobayan was among those killed in the crash of the Sikorsky S76B helicopter outside Los Angeles in hilly terrain.

Bryant (41), an 18time National Basketball Associatio­n allstar with the Los Angeles Lakers, was travelling with his 13yearold daughter, Gianna, two other girls and several friends to a youth basketball tournament at the time of the crash.

The NTSB also cited the company operating the doomed helicopter, Island Express Helicopter­s, for ‘‘inadequate review and oversight of its safety management processes’’. Lawyers for the company did not immediatel­y comment.

NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said Zobayan should not have flown into the clouds.

‘‘Unfortunat­ely, we continue to see these same issues influence poor decision making among otherwise experience­d pilots in aviation crashes,’’ he said.

‘‘Had this pilot not succumbed to the pressures he placed on himself to continue the flight into adverse weather, it is likely this accident would not have happened.’’

The NTSB urged the Federal Aviation Administra­tion (FAA) to require simulator training to address ‘‘procedures needed to recognise and respond to changing weather conditions’’ and to convene a panel to address pilot disorienta­tion. It also called on the FAA to require flight data recorders in all charter helicopter­s.

The FAA said it ‘‘takes NTSB recommenda­tions very seriously’’ and said it was reviewing the feasibilit­y of requiring all charter companies to install such recorders on their aircraft. — Reuters

 ??  ?? Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand