Preliminary report on helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant is released; it does not say the cause
A preliminary report was released Friday on the Calabasas crash that ended the life of Kobe Bryant and eight others last month by the The National Transportation Safety Board, though it did not give any additional insight into what caused the crash.
The update came as authorities continue to investigate what caused the Sikorsky S-76B to crash 40 minutes after it departed from John Wayne Airport in Orange County at 9:06 a.m. on Jan. 26. The pilot circled the Glendale area, then flew west for Camarillo Airport. Amid the thick fog, the chopper hit the foothills of the Santa Monica mountains and caught fire, killing everyone on board.
The report does say that visibility at the airport, 14 miles from the crash site, was 2.5 miles.
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NTSB authorities have said a full review of the crash could take up to 18 months. Preliminary reports often don’t include a lot of new information about an incident.
On Feb. 7, NTSB officials released an 11-page update detailing the conditions that they found on scene and some of the initial findings, including the conclusion that the engine did not appear to have failed.
That report says that the helicopter’s descent increased to over 4,000 feet per minute and hit the ground at just over 184 miles per hour.
In addition to Bryant and his daughter Gianna, also killed were Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and their basketball-playing daughter Alyssa. Also, mother and daughter Sarah and Payton Chester, Mamba Academy basketball coach Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan died.
They were headed for a tournament at Bryant’s youth facility in Thousand Oaks.
During the flight, Zobayan requested special visual flight rules, which lets a pilot fly in weather worse than allowed under standard visual flight rules. In the days following the crash, there were questions about whether a terrain warning system, which the helicopter was not required to have, could have averted the crash. That system gives detailed visuals of surrounding terrain and triggers alerts.