Moments prior to Los Angeles basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and the seven others died in a helicopter crash, the pilot had tried to elevate the helicopter out of a layer of clouds, however, the aircraft then pivoted sharply and stumbled toward the ground.
It took only 60 seconds to crash
60 seconds later, the Sikorsky S-76B with twin-engine crashed into a hillside and burst into flames, resulting in the death of all nine people that were on board, according to details of Sunday’s crash revealed by federal aviation safety officials on Tuesday.
The news regarding the death of Bryant, 41, one of the most idolized athletes around the world, sent shockwaves through the entertainment and sports fraternity.
Investigators working with National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) approximated that the luxury passenger helicopter owned by Bryant crashed to the ground at a speed of more than 2,000 feet (610 m) per minute.
“This is a pretty steep descent at high speed,” Jennifer Homendy, a board member of NTSB told a briefing in Calabasas, a town which is adjacent to the crash site about 40 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
“The time from descent to impact was probably about a minute.”
According to the Radar data the helicopter had escalated to 2,300 feet – “he was trying to climb out of the cloud layer at the time” and then started a left downward turn just before air traffic control lost contact with it, Homendy said.
Investigators have provided no explanation for what might have caused the aircraft to tilt suddenly to one side and then collapse to the ground. However, Homendy said the approximated rate of de-escalation “wouldn’t be a normal landing speed.”
“We know this was a higher-energy-impact crash,” she stated, adding that investigators had deduced that the helicopter remained in one piece before hitting the ground.
Safety Recommendations were disregarded
Homendy explained that fog, clouds, and limited visibility recorded in the area on Sunday became the key focus of the investigation. It is going to take at least a year to complete.
The helicopter was not having any equipment regarding “terrain awareness and warning system,” a device that might have cautioned the pilot that the aircraft was flying alarmingly close to the hillside, Homendy said. Nor did the chopper have a “black box” flight data recorder, which would have helped in to solve the puzzle of the crash, she said.
Federal Aviation Administration has not implemented the NTSB recommendations that both devices should be integrated on helicopters like the one that crashed on Sunday, she said.
Reporters were briefed by Homendy as authorities finished the on-scene phase of the investigation, clearing the tall, grassy slope of remaining wreckage and human remains.
There was an iPad that was recovered among other items. Investigators stipulate that it may have belonged to the pilot for use in tracking flight and weather information, Homendy said.
The NTSB team carted a truckload of debris wrapped in large, white tarp bags while medical examiners positively identified remains of four victims, including Bryant and the pilot.
Hello, I’m Anna Yeo. If you like my news coverage, please drop a good word in my inbox. I’m journalist by profession and have been part of many major reporting across the globe. I like to write crisp and factual news. I have completed my masters degree in journalism. Feel free to contact me at [email protected]