Pilot wanted to gain altitude shortly before the crash
- xperts from the US transport authority NTSB have reported initial findings after the helicopter crashed with Kobe Bryant on board.
- Accordingly, the pilot sparked shortly before the crash, that he wanted to gain height, possibly to avoid clouds.
- The helicopter had no flight recorder on board, and it could take months before a result of the investigation is known.
The pilot of basketball superstar Kobe Bryant’s helicopter apparently tried to escape from the clouds by climbing up before the crash. In his last radio message, he told air traffic controllers that he was rising because of the clouds, said an accident investigator from the US transportation agency NTSB.
The 41-year-old NBA legend Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna had died in the helicopter crash near Los Angeles with seven other people on Sunday morning . Bryant was considered one of the best basketball players of his generation. He spent his 20-year career at the traditional Los Angeles Lakers club, with which he won five championships.
This is a cartoon that was aired 2017 predicting Kobe’s helicopter crash 🙁
Radar data showed the helicopter reached a height of 701 meters before it crashed, as Jennifer Homendy of the U.S. Transportation Service said on Monday afternoon at a press conference. Investigators looked for evidence at the scene of the accident. “It looks terrible,” said Homendy. “The debris field is quite extensive”. A piece of the helicopter’s tail had been found on a hill, the fuselage had landed on the other side of the hill and the rotor more than 90 meters behind. Accident investigations focus on everything from the pilot’s career to the engine.
No black box on board
Investigators should not hope for the knowledge of a flight recorder, as usually carried by airplanes. According to Homendy, the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter did not have such a black box, and these are not mandatory for such helicopters. Nevertheless, she was confident of finding out the cause of the accident. “We look at the pilot, the machine and the environmental conditions – and the weather is only a small part of that,” said Homendy. It may take months before the results of the investigations are available.
According to media reports, the pilot was traveling with a special permit that allowed him to fly in worsening weather conditions. However, one condition of this special permit is that pilots stay away from clouds. If you still want to fly through clouds, you have to ask an air traffic controller for approval.
The pilot later asked air traffic controllers for radar support for flight surveillance, but was refused. The plane was flying too low for this, the staff said, Homendy said.
About four minutes later, the pilot had announced by radio that he was climbing higher to fly around dense cloud fields. When the pilots asked what the pilot was up to, there was no answer, added Homendy. Radar data indicate that the helicopter reached a height of 701 meters, but then sagged to the left. The last radar contact was made around 9.45 a.m. (local time). Two minutes later, someone on the ground called 911 to report the crash.
According to an aviation safety expert, the pilot may have lost orientation in the clouds when he piloted the helicopter up and left its intended route. The sharp curve and the subsequent steep crash of the helicopter is comparable to other cases in which this happened, said the expert from the Bloomberg agency.
The foggy weather in the mountains was mentioned as a possible cause. The helicopter went up in flames immediately after the impact and triggered a bush fire, which made the work of the rescue workers more difficult.