Skip to comments.Pilot In Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash Wasn’t Allowed To Fly By Instruments
Posted on 01/30/2020 7:15:21 AM PST by Moonman62
The helicopter that crashed Sunday killing basketball star Kobe Bryant and eight others was owned by a charter company that only operated under visual flight rules, and its pilots were not permitted to fly solely based on their cockpit gauges if they encountered weather that limited visibility, a former pilot for the company told Forbes.
The pilot of the doomed flight, Ara Zobayan, was licensed to fly by cockpit instruments, but he likely had little real-world experience in doing so given the operating limitations of Island Express Helicopters, says Kurt Deetz, a former pilot for the company who flew Bryant for two years.
On a morning when heavy fog and low clouds were reported in parts of the Los Angeles area, and law enforcement agencies and helicopter tour companies werent flying their choppers, the last radio communication from Zobayan to air traffic controllers was that he was climbing to try to get above a layer of clouds.
I dont think he had any actual [experience] inside the clouds, says Deetz, who notes that it can be unnerving for pilots limited to operating under visual flight rules, or VFR. You spend your whole career thinking, I shouldnt do this.
(Excerpt) Read more at forbes.com ...
Simply mind boggling. Pilot with inability to fly IFR on a helo with no terrain warning system. Shame on Kobe if he was aware of this and still boarded with his daughter and friends.
Lawyers are circling. I believe Kobe was renting the helicopter that he formerly owned. The company that owned it will be declaring bankruptcy very soon.
This sentence and the headline do not exactly mesh with eachother.
Probably Kobe and company had no clue what was going on. It is up to the pilot to determine if it is safe to fly.
I had always mistakenly thought it was Kobe's helicopter and he was the pilot. At least this article cleared that up for me. All other articles I read I basically glanced at
Plenty of instrument rated pilots crash because they aren’t proficient. They must fly instruments frequently in order to remain proficient.
His estate is worth half a billion or more. Anybody suing will probably go after that since that is way more than a bankrupt helicopter company has.
Hard to understand why he simply did not request permission to climb above the fog, then be given his coordinates and a course to land in a clear area. Something does not make sense. Was someone else sitting in the co pilot’s seat?
Not to mention that it violated company policy, although that’s a claim not yet proved.
I'm licensed to carry a concealed handgun, it doesn't make me a Navy Seal or Jerry Miculek.
Audio of the final half minute of flight.
Turn up the volume and the crash can be heard at 28 seconds. It’s not loud, though.
It is unusual to have a commercial rating without an instrument rating. In most cases the insurance requirements and restrictions would be too onerous to run a a successful business. I can’t imagine running a charter operation with VFR-only rated pilots. I certainly wouldn’t fly with them.
The pilot was LICENSED to fly by instruments, but he may not have been very PROFICIENT at it because his company has a policy against it. To say he wasn't ALLOWED to is ambiguous at best and implies he wasn't certified to fly by instruments.
Every commercial pilot is certified to fly by instruments. If this is correct this company wasn’t authorized to operate its helicopters under instrument required flight conditions. Meaning he wouldn’t get much instrument flying practice unless he paid for it himself or trained with a buddy who was paying for it.
Hard to understand why he simply did not request permission to climb above the fog,
That was his last request, but he got disoriented most likely. He never made it above the clouds.
Before that he was below the clouds flying over hwy 101. I think the ceiling kept getting lower and he got trapped in the clouds.
I read that Kobe would only fly with this pilot.
There is also the rumor that Kobe was actually certified to fly helicopters. Has that been confirmed?
Agree. Not allowed is by the company policy and agreements with the FAA. Nonetheless, a series of decisions led to a tragic ending.
Transitioning suddenly from VFR to IFR is fraught with dangers, even for the best pilots properly certified to fly both. Helicopters, even new ones, don’t exactly fly themselves.
Also, one thing I haven’t seen discussed, is how often helicopters DO proceed in marginal conditions. The nature of the helicopter makes this generally safer than in fixed-wing craft. They can stop, hover, or actually be set down in a safe spot if going on is to difficult. See, e.g., Alaska flight rules and the use of helicopters.
Dumb question not knowing anything about flying helicopters. Why couldn’t he just stop and hover? Could he have stopped all horizontal and vertical movement? At least until he figured out what to do?
“Hard to understand why he simply did not request permission to climb above the fog, then be given his coordinates and a course to land in a clear area”
He would not have been able to reach his original destination once he went IFR and under positive control of ATC. He would then need to land at an airport with an instrument landing system.
It appears to me this was a classic case of “gotta get there itis.” To get there he would have to remain VFR. In all probability he ran into IFR conditions while trying to fly VFR.
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