Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash near Los Angeles
January 26, 2020
A Sikorsky S-76B helicopter carrying eight passengers and the pilot crashed near Calabasas, California, on Sunday morning, January 26, 2020.
Basketball star Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and six of their friends were headed to a basketball tournament at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California. The flight originated from John Wayne Airport in Orange County and was headed to Camarillo Airport in Ventura County.
The Sikorsky, built in 1991, registration number N72EX, was registered to the Island Express Holding Corporation, based in Fillmore, California. Reportedly, Island Express modified the aircraft from seating twelve to seating eight following the purchase of the helicopter.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), at the time of the crash, there was no flight data recorder (FDR) or cockpit voice recorder (CVR) in the aircraft, though records show it did have a CVR installed at one time. The S-76B was not equipped with a terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS), even though the NTSB has recommended that all helicopters with more than six passengers be equipped with the safety system. A TAWS on-board system is useful in preventing unintentional impacts with the ground and may or may not have helped prevent this tragedy.
News reports following the crash stated that the Los Angeles Police Department had grounded its fleet of helicopters that morning prior to the crash due to poor weather conditions.
On February 7, 2020, the NTSB released their preliminary report on the investigation into the crash of the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter.
There's a procedure for what you do if you inadvertently encounter IFC - instrument flight rules conditions. You can turn around. Basically, get on your instruments, conduct a standard rate turn, 180 degrees, and try to fly out of the clouds.
Kreindler partners and commercial pilots Justin Green, Brian Alexander and Dan Rose have each discussed the crash with media.
In the Media
Partner Brian Alexander — who is also a helicopter pilot — spoke with NBC News about investigators’ plans to work with air traffic control to review communication logs and the helicopter’s flight path, and to examine the wreckage.
This is the most challenging situation for a helicopter pilot when you have these marginal conditions that are changing rapidly as you go along your flight path .... You have to make some quick decisions, and the workload while flying grows, which can lead to disorientation.
The Kreindler helicopter accident team includes five commercially licensed helicopter pilots and one former helicopter maintenance specialist (who is also a graduate of the NTSB accident investigation course).