The autopsy report had made it possible to confirm that he had neither consumed drugs nor alcohol. The pilot of the helicopter that crashed in January 2020 near Los Angeles, with NBA star Kobe Bryant on board, was probably disoriented while flying in thick fog, authority experts concluded on Tuesday transport security.
Ara Zobayan, a 50-year-old pilot considered experienced, may have “put pressure” on himself to continue the flight despite the poor conditions due to his “long-standing friendship” with the former Los Lakers star. Angeles, concludes this authority, the NTSB.
Kobe Bryant was traveling with his daughter Gianna, 13, and six other passengers, aboard the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter that crashed on January 26, 2020 on a hill in Calabasas, northwest of Los Angeles. There were no survivors. According to the NTSB, the weather conditions were bad that morning, but sufficient to allow the pilot to fly on sight while maintaining contact with the ground.
Shortly before the accident, Ara Zobayan had indicated in a radio exchange that he was going to climb to 4000 feet (1200 meters) to fly above the fog. But the aircraft had started a left turn and a fatal descent on the hill. “This maneuver is consistent with a pilot experiencing disorientation in space in conditions of limited visibility,” said Robert Sumwalt, president of the NTSB responsible for officially determining the cause of the accident. “He would have had the incorrect perception that the helicopter was ascending as it descended,” he added, his inner ear no longer knowing how to position it in space.
” Loss of control “
For the NTSB, “the probable cause of the accident is the pilot’s decision to continue to fly on sight in instrument meteorological conditions which resulted in his spatial disorientation and loss of control (of the aircraft)”.
Other elements contributed to the drama, such as a probable “self-induced pressure” from the pilot, who did not want to disappoint his famous passenger by changing the flight plan or by landing to wait for better conditions. The investigators have indeed found no evidence of any pressure put on the pilot by the transport company or Kobe Bryant to agree to fly in bad weather. The aircraft took the star and his passengers to a youth team basketball tournament.
Death of Kobe Bryant: his wife Vanessa confides to be “devastated”
The NTSB also referred to “insufficient review and supervision” in the safety process by the aircraft’s management company, Island Express, even though the helicopter did not experience any mechanical problems.
The pilot was qualified to fly on sight under federal and transportation company regulations. He had more than 8,500 visual flight hours to his credit, including 1,250 on the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter, and 75 hours of instrument flight. He had no medical history.
Vanessa Bryant, the player’s widow, had filed a complaint after the accident against Island Express, accusing her of having allowed the aircraft to take off despite the bad weather and of not having the necessary clearances to allow her aircraft to fly without visibility.
The death of Kobe Bryant at 41 has caused a stir around the world, far beyond the sports sphere. In 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers, he won five NBA league titles and was named best player in the league in 2007-2008. He retired in 2016.
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr