CA - Kobe Bryant, 41, daughter GiGi, 13, & 7 others die in helicopter crash, Calabasas, 26 Jan 2020

Cryptic

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Will we ever know (prob not) if there was pressure on the pilot to hurry &
get to the destination? Maybe the pilot put pressure on himself.
It seems it was a perfect storm that day.

I think alot of crashes are caused by a series of cascading events or "perfect storms".

Cascading events in this crash could have been: Pilots and lead customer having "get thereitis" and weather conditions that while not forbidding the pilot to fly per se, made it unadvisable to do so.
 

Seattle1

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I think alot of crashes are caused by a series of cascading events or "perfect storms".

Cascading events in this crash could have been: Pilots and lead customer having "get thereitis" and weather conditions that while not forbidding the pilot to fly per se, made it unadvisable to do so.
I'm not recalling all the earlier details but seems to me that if not for the early holding pattern for I think traffic, they just might have safely reached their destination. In other words, I don't recall if there were recommendations NOT to fly when they left the ground. Perhaps instead of holding for 15 minutes, they should have returned to the airport. Indeed, a sad, perfect storm.

MOO
 

Cryptic

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I don't recall if there were recommendations NOT to fly when they left the ground.

I don't think there were any explicit recommendations not to fly. But....

The area was under Special Visual Flight Rules (SVFR). This means that though non instrument rated pilots could still fly, the weather was bad enough to the extent that there was a noticeably higher risk of accidents.

Los Angeles County Sheriff and LAPD evidently do not ordinarily fly in SVFR conditions as both had grounded their helicopters and light planes for the day.

Thus, while no explicit advisory, the SVFR conditions seem to imply: Flying by non instrument rated pilots not recommended- unless you really need to, are very experienced and are very aware of the exact local conditions.
 

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My brother lives out that way. Fog settles suddenly while driving on the freeway ...settles fast...yeah out of nowhere...it’s bad. Very hilly and those hills “hold” in fog.

Fog was thick like milk ....
 

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NTSB Says Kobe Bryant Helicopter Pilot Was Likely Disoriented in Clouds, Leading to Fatal Crash

Feb 9, 2021

Just over a year after the January 26, 2020 helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others, the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) is meeting to determine the accident's probable cause.

During a public, livestreamed hearing on Tuesday, members of the NTSB said that pilot Ara Zobayan flew through clouds ahead of the crash last year, which is an apparent violation of federal standards and likely led to him being spatially disorientated, the Associated Press reported.

"He was flying under visual flight rules (VFR), which legally prohibited him from penetrating clouds," NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said. "However, he continued this VFR flight through the clouds, into instrument meterological conditions."

The Bryants, as well as passengers John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, and Christina Mauser, were traveling to a basketball tournament at Kobe's Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California, at the time of the crash into a hillside in Calabasas.

[..]

The NTSB meeting is ongoing as of 11 a.m. EST Tuesday.

I'm not surprised. We knew he said he was climbing but they claim to have record of him banging left and descending very fast, so fast he couldn't recover from it.

There was nothing left of the pilot to see if he had a medical episode so we won't get more then their opinion and what they tell us are facts.

He was very experienced. Im having issues believing it
 

Cryptic

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I'm not surprised. We knew he said he was climbing but they claim to have record of him banging left and descending very fast, so fast he couldn't recover from it.

He was very experienced. Im having issues believing it

Spatial disorientation can happen very quickly to even the most experienced pilots.

For example, in a ten year period the Airforce alone suffered 44 fatalities from spatial disorientation related crashes:

https://www.faa.gov/about/office_or...ies/aerospace_medicine/sd/media/MP-086-18.pdf

Needless to say, it is not just the US Airforce as this Japanese fighter pilot was recently killed in a crash after coming spatially disoriented:
Japan’s Air Force: Pilot Error Caused F-35A Crash
 
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Betty P

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I'm not surprised. We knew he said he was climbing but they claim to have record of him banging left and descending very fast, so fast he couldn't recover from it.

There was nothing left of the pilot to see if he had a medical episode so we won't get more then their opinion and what they tell us are facts.

He was very experienced. Im having issues believing it

IIRC, he was experienced but he wasn't instrument rated. He was flying in conditions that were beyond his skill level.
 

Seattle1

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IIRC, he was experienced but he wasn't instrument rated. He was flying in conditions that were beyond his skill level.


Actually, it was the Charter company (Island Express Helicopters) that was confirmed to only have VFR certification, and not to be confused with the pilot's rating. Zoyban was an instrument-rated pilot.

Pilot In Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash Wasn’t Allowed To Fly By Instruments

Island Express Helicopters, a Long Beach-based company that has seven helicopters registered to it and a related holding corporation, is certified under Part 135 of FAA regulations to provide on-demand charter services under VFR conditions only, according to FAA records. The regulations impose tight specifications on how air carriers operate, including what kind of weather conditions they can fly in, and pilots must file a flight plan before every trip with the FAA stating how it will be conducted. For a VFR flight, any cloud cover must be at least 1,000 feet above ground level with visibility of at least three miles.

It’s financially demanding and time-consuming for a company to ensure it and its pilots can operate under instrument flight rules, or IFR, says Deetz, and in the Los Angeles area, with its usually balmy weather, he says it isn’t worth it for most helicopter operators, apart from emergency medical services.

[..]

Zobayan, 50, was the chief pilot for Island Express, where he had worked for ten years, according to a statement on the company’s website, and had 8,200 hours of flight time as of July. An instrument flight instructor as well, he reportedly flew Bryant regularly and Deetz says he knew the area well.
 

Betty P

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Actually, it was the Charter company (Island Express Helicopters) that was confirmed to only have VFR certification, and not to be confused with the pilot's rating. Zoyban was an instrument-rated pilot.

Pilot In Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash Wasn’t Allowed To Fly By Instruments

Island Express Helicopters, a Long Beach-based company that has seven helicopters registered to it and a related holding corporation, is certified under Part 135 of FAA regulations to provide on-demand charter services under VFR conditions only, according to FAA records. The regulations impose tight specifications on how air carriers operate, including what kind of weather conditions they can fly in, and pilots must file a flight plan before every trip with the FAA stating how it will be conducted. For a VFR flight, any cloud cover must be at least 1,000 feet above ground level with visibility of at least three miles.

It’s financially demanding and time-consuming for a company to ensure it and its pilots can operate under instrument flight rules, or IFR, says Deetz, and in the Los Angeles area, with its usually balmy weather, he says it isn’t worth it for most helicopter operators, apart from emergency medical services.

[..]

Zobayan, 50, was the chief pilot for Island Express, where he had worked for ten years, according to a statement on the company’s website, and had 8,200 hours of flight time as of July. An instrument flight instructor as well, he reportedly flew Bryant regularly and Deetz says he knew the area well.

Thanks for the clarification. That makes the situation even worse. He failed to properly use his training to avoid crashing the helicopter. IIRC, in cases poor visibility and spatial disorientation, pilots are supposed to rely only on their instruments. A difficult thing to do, but, unless you can do it, you have no business flying in those conditions.
 

Seattle1

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Thanks for the clarification. That makes the situation even worse. He failed to properly use his training to avoid crashing the helicopter. IIRC, in cases poor visibility and spatial disorientation, pilots are supposed to rely only on their instruments. A difficult thing to do, but, unless you can do it, you have no business flying in those conditions.

Reportedly, the weather forecasts for airports near the route of flight appear to have been better than the conditions that the pilot encountered in the final minutes. At one point, the pilot was also directed to hold for traffic for 15 minutes.

In a situation like this where a helicopter pilot inadvertently flies into challenging weather, he'd have to declare an emergency, requiring that they fly by instruments, and the nearest air traffic controller vector the aircraft in for a landing.

Short of permission to land at a nearby airport, a VFR-restricted pilot wouldn't make a decision to switch to IFR lightly-- given the potential legal repercussions (Charter was FAA certified for VFR only and the Sikorsky S-76B is certified for single-pilot instrument flying).

Burbank ATC directed the pilot to proceed with VFR.

Van Nuys ATC advised the pilot there was a cloud ceiling in the area of 1,100 feet and visibility of 2.5 miles, and he passed through.

I think this tragedy was a perfect storm where seconds made the difference between the disaster and a safe landing.

Those qualified to speak cite pilot Zobayan as a pilot's pilot -- he also lost his life here.
 

Betty P

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Reportedly, the weather forecasts for airports near the route of flight appear to have been better than the conditions that the pilot encountered in the final minutes. At one point, the pilot was also directed to hold for traffic for 15 minutes.

In a situation like this where a helicopter pilot inadvertently flies into challenging weather, he'd have to declare an emergency, requiring that they fly by instruments, and the nearest air traffic controller vector the aircraft in for a landing.

Short of permission to land at a nearby airport, a VFR-restricted pilot wouldn't make a decision to switch to IFR lightly-- given the potential legal repercussions (Charter was FAA certified for VFR only and the Sikorsky S-76B is certified for single-pilot instrument flying).

Burbank ATC directed the pilot to proceed with VFR.

Van Nuys ATC advised the pilot there was a cloud ceiling in the area of 1,100 feet and visibility of 2.5 miles, and he passed through.

I think this tragedy was a perfect storm where seconds made the difference between the disaster and a safe landing.

Those qualified to speak cite pilot Zobayan as a pilot's pilot -- he also lost his life here.

Thanks for that clarification. Seems an interesting way to do things in an area full of mountains, routinely prone to fog and full of local air traffic. Good to know. Sounds like this accident was almost inevitable. Will remember to never fly in small aircraft in that region.
 

Cryptic

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An instrument flight instructor as well, he reportedly flew Bryant regularly and Deetz says he knew the area well.

As a side note, there seems to be some dispute regarding the pilots level of experience with instrument flying.

Evidently one source lists him as an experienced instruments instructor.

Yet, other sources relate that though instrument rated, his level of experience in actual instrument flying could well have been far more limited.
 

Seattle1

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As a side note, there seems to be some dispute regarding the pilots level of experience with instrument flying.

Evidently one source lists him as an experienced instruments instructor.

Yet, other sources relate that though instrument rated, his level of experience in actual instrument flying could well have been far more limited.
It could very well be true as there are many instrumented rated pilots that go on to fly for years, and/or hundreds of hours, for on-demand Charters using VFR only.
 
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