Pilot’s Disorientation Caused Kobe Bryant’s Helicopter Crash: The National Transportation Safety Board determined the cause of the Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash that happened on January the 26th, 2020, was a result of Ara Zobayan’s decision to fly under visual flight rules in cloudy conditions, which resulted in his spatial disorientation and loss of control of the aircraft.
All nine people who were on the helicopter, including Pilot Ara Zobayan, died: Payton Chester, 13; Sarah Chester, 45; Alyssa Altobelli, 14; Keri Altobelli, 46; John Altobelli, 56; and Christina Mauser, 38.
Zobayan was the chief pilot on the Island Express Helicopters with over 10 years of experience flying over the site where the helicopter crashed. The craft didn’t require two pilots but the previous owner of the Island Express Helicopter often made sure there were two sets of trained professionals operating it.
“I think two pilots would increase the safety level. I flew with two pilots for a long time and in an airline environment, you get the redundancy that if one pilot is struggling, the other pilot would be able to sit back and say, ‘Wait a minute, you are banking 30 degrees to the left and starting a descent,” Chairman Michael Graham said.
Zobayan likely went against federal guidelines by flying into the fog, even after encountering iffy weather that morning. Graham said that the pilot should’ve dodged “adverse weather” and “divert, return to base or land the helicopter.“