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Federal Agency Issues Findings On Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash; Pilot Made Fatal Errors

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(NTSB photo)
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A NTSB drone photo of the Calabasas site where a helicopter crash claimed the lives of nine people, including Kobe Bryant.

Federal investigators say pilot errors led to the helicopter crash which killed basketball superstar Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven other people in Calabasas.  The National Transportation Safety Board has issued its findings and report on the January 2020 crash.

The board says the crash was entirely preventable.  Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt says pilot Ara Zobayan made some bad judgements calls, flew into low clouds, and became disoriented.

The board felt that because the pilot had become a friend of Bryant, he might have felt pressure to fly into the bad weather instead of turning back, or making an emergency landing. 

The report says say air traffic controllers were not a factor in the crash.  Sumwalt notes that if the helicopter company and the pilot had been certified for instrument only flying, the trip could have been a routine flight.

The NTSB report calls for more bad weather training for charter pilots, and a study into the spatial disorientation problem which set the stage for the crash.

The helicopter's passengers were headed to a basketball tournament at Bryant's sports academy in Newbury Park.