CALABASAS, Calif. (WTNH) — The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is in Calabasas, California, investigating the cause of a helicopter crash that killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, and seven others.
According to investigators, the Sikorsky S-76 that crashed into a rugged Calabasas hillside Sunday was flying during foggy conditions, which were considered dangerous enough that local law enforcement grounded their choppers.
The cause of the crash has yet to be determined. NTSB will be on scene for the next five days to survey and collect “perishable evidence.”
In a news conference Tuesday, the NTSB gave their initial findings after collecting “perishable evidence” in recovery operations on the crash site. They used drones to help map the crash site and locate debris.
- The NTSB has located an iPad and a cellphone in the crash site. They are not sure to which passenger it belongs.
- They have located all maintenance records and other legal/certificate-related documents expected to be onboard a helicopter.
- They conducted interviews with air traffic control on Tuesday, and that interviews are ongoing.
- The pilot, Ara Zobayan, has been with the helicopter company for 10 years and had ‘quite a bit of experience.’
- Descent Rate: The aircraft lost contact with air traffic control at 2,300 feet, and the descent rate was about 2,000 feet per minute, so the descent-to-impact would have lasted less than one minute.
- The chopper missed clearing the mountain by only 20-30 feet.
- The NTSB has recommended the use of Terrain Awareness Warming Systems in helicopters like the one that crashed Sunday for years; if Sikorsky S-76 had the system, the outcome of the flight may have been different.
NTSB will present its final findings in 12-18 months.
WEB EXTRA: Tuesday, NTSB gives update on investigation of helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and 8 others.
Weather is one factor NTSB is looking into. They even asked the public to send photos they may have taken in the area that morning to email@example.com.
Investigators are also looking into the pilot’s history, the chopper’s maintenance records, and the records of its owner and operator.
The debris field is described as bigger than a football field, spanning an area of 500 to 600 feet. During a news conference Monday, investigators said the wreckage was found on both sides of the hill.
During the news conference Monday, NTSB’s Jennifer Homendy said the Sikorsky S-76 did not carry a “black box” — a device that records flight data — and was not required to have one. However, the pilot did have an iPad that had some data, including a flight plan and weather briefings.
WEB EXTRA: Monday, NTSB full update on investigation of helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, daughter, and 7 others
A preliminary report should be released from NTSB within 10 days.
Among the deceased are the Zobayan, and John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and their daughter Alyssa. Altobelli was a college baseball coach who also coached in the Cape Cod league – managing, among others, Yankees star Aaron Judge.
Christina Mauser, another victim of the crash, was a basketball coach at Harbor Day School – the school attended by Gianna Bryant. Sarah Chester and her daughter, Payton – another member of Gianna’s basketball team were also victims.