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Final Report On Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash Focuses On Pilot Error

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(NTSB photo)
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Federal investigators released the final report into the helicopter crash which killed basketball superstar Kobe Bryant and eight other people as they were en route to Ventura County.  Pilot error is listed as the main factor.  The report formalizes the National Transportation Safety Board’s findings into causes of the crash.

It says the probable cause was pilot Ara Zobayan flying under visual flight rules into instrument flying conditions.  The report says the pilot suffered from spatial disorientation, which caused him to lose control in the low clouds, and crash.

The report highlights a finding which didn’t receive much attention in the NTSB hearing.  It says the helicopter was flying at an excessive speed for the weather conditions.  During the hearing, some board members noted that because it was a helicopter, Zobayan could have made an emergency landing instead of flying into the clouds.

The report had noted that the pilot probably was also suffering from self-induced pressure to get his passengers to Ventura County for a basketball tournament.  He had flown Bryant for years, and investigators say he probably didn’t want to disappoint him.

It includes some safety recommendations, including the installation of "black box" systems in passenger helicopters of this type to help in crash investigations.