KOBE Bryant did not pressure the pilot to take risks in the bad weather and the crash "was avoidable," investigators said today.
The chopper carrying NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others went down on January 26, 2020, in the California city of Calabasas.
The National Transportation Safety Board is set to determine the probable cause of death during a hearing at 9.30am ET on Tuesday.
During the hearing, the board confirmed that there was no pressure on the pilot to drive Bryant and Gianna during the bad weather.
"There was no evidence that Island Express, the air charter broker or the client [Kobe Bryant] placed pressure on the pilot to accept the charter flight request or complete the flight and adverse weather," they said.
Vice Chairman of the NTSB Bruce Landsberg also said that the incident was not an accident, but instead was a "crash."
He reasoned his choice of word by saying that an accident is unpreventable.
The vice chairman added that pilots "know how to prevent these type of crashes."
Honorable Michael Graham, a member of the board, also said that the pilot "did not follow his training," which he said made him "concerned as a fellow aviator."
It was later discussed that the pilot, Ara Zobayan, flew into the clouds when he was "legally prohibited" to do so.
Investigator Bill English added that "this would not have been a difficult flight."
In June 2020, approximately five months after the fatal crash, federal investigators said pilot Zobayan was likely disoriented by fog.
Pilot Zobayan told air traffic controllers that the helicopter was climbing its way out of a cloud cover – even though, in reality, the helicopter was rapidly hurtling to the ground, federal investigators said.
The chopper ultimately crashed into a hillside.
According to last year's findings, which total approximately 1,700 pages, the NTSB wrote that pilots who cannot see their surrounding sky or landscape can suffer from "spatial disorientation."
"Without outside references or attention to the helicopters attitude display, the actual pitch and bank angles have the potential to be misperceived," the NTSB stated.
Also in 2020, the NTSB ruled out "catastrophic mechanical failure" as a cause of the crash.
At the time of the ruling, evidence showed the helicopter had increased its speed, made a sharp left turn, and then began falling, even though Zobayan had just radioed that he was climbing to 4,000 feet in order to get above the dense cloud layer.
“Calculated apparent angles at this time show that the pilot could have misperceived both pitch and roll angles,” one report stated, according to The Associated Press.
All nine people aboard the helicopter were killed: Bryant and his daughter Gianna; Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and their daughter Alyssa; Christina Mauser, who was affiliated with Gianna's team; Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton; and Zobayan himself.
Gianna, Alyssa, and Payton were teammates on their way to a tournament.
Bryant's wife, Vanessa, recently said she sometimes "doesn't feel like being alive" as the anniversary approaches of her husband's death.
The pair met in 1999 on the set of a music video while Vanessa was working as a model.
They became engaged after six months and got married in 2001.
Alongside Gianna, the couple shared daughters Natalia, now 17, Bianka, now four, and Capri, now one.
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