Safety Investigators Confirm the ‘Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act’ Wouldn’t Have Prevented the Fatal Crash That Killed Lakers Legend
Federal safety investigators have released a synopsis of their coming final report on the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others on the flight. They found definitively that the safety regulations proposed in the Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act would not have prevented the deadly crash.
That bill, introduced by Rep. Brad Sherman (D–Calif.) less than a week after the basketball star’s death in January 2020, would mandate that all helicopters come equipped with Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS), a technology that warns pilots if they are flying too close to the ground or other obstacles they might not be able to see.
Yet at a Tuesday meeting of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which is responsible for investigating transportation accidents and making safety recommendations, investigators said that TAWS would not have prevented the crash that killed Bryant and his fellow passengers.
“It’s great technology, we just don’t think it applies here,” said NTSB investigator Bill English in response to a question about TAWS. English said that the safety technology was most useful in situations where a pilot is in control of his or her vehicle but is unaware of the surrounding terrain.
The crash that killed Bryant in contrast, he said, was a product of the pilot becoming “spatially disorientated” while attempting to fly above cloud cover to avoid hilly terrain he was already aware of. Those cloudy conditions caused the pilot to become confused as to his direction, telling an air traffic controller he was still ascending when in fact he was plummeting to the ground.
“At that point the aircraft is not in control. The pilot doesn’t really know which way was up so this type of system [TAWS] would not aid in that situation,” said English. “It would likely just be a confusing factor more than anything else.”
The irrelevance of TAWS to the crash stands in
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