Press Conference Updates Latest on Calabasas Helicopter Crash Investigation
Los Angeles: Tuesday afternoon, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department held a Press Conference, along with the National Transportation Safety Board, to update information regarding the Calabasas helicopter crash that took the life of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, the pilot, and six other passengers.
National Transportation Safety Board Member Jennifer Homendy spoke at the conference about investigation updates of the crash. She stated that investigators are on the scene continuing to examine and document the wreckage. During such accidents, the NTSB searches for significant components of the wreckage to aid in the investigation. They were able to recover an iPad and cell phone, but it's not confirmed whether the cell phone or iPad belong to the pilot. The items will be sent back to headquarters for further investigation.
Board Member Homendy also confirmed that paper records, that would normally be found in regards to the operation of an aircraft, were also located in the wreckage. Information regarding those records will come later.
NTSB also worked with drones on Tuesday to help the Air Worthiness Group locate significant components, and to continue to document the scene. The end part of the flight path of the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter was also duplicated with the drones.
A Recovery Crew tucked the wreckage into large white tarp bags that were airlifted from the scene by helicopter, loaded onto a truck, then transported to a secure location.
Accident Investigators have started conducting their interviews today with the air traffic controller and operator. Interviews are ongoing, and other interviews will be conducted over the next several days.
It was determined the pilot logged enough flight hours to be considered an experienced pilot. He also had 1,250 hours of flight time on the S-76 helicopter. The helicopter was at 2,300 feet when it lost communications with Air Traffic Control. Decent rate was 2,000 feet per minute. The helicopter was in a descending left bank. "It was a high energy impact crash," said Homendy. The helicopter crashed just about 30 feet from the top of a hillside in an area that is 1,085 feet above sea level in Calabasas.
A preliminary report from the NTSB will be issued in 10 days and it will contain more factual information than the NTSB has currently. The final report, which is due to be released 12 to 18 months from now, will include findings, recommendations, and a probable cause. At that time, urgent safety recommendations could be issued. "The goal is to prevent a similar accident from happening again," said Homendy.
NTSB verified that Terrain Awareness Early Warning System (TAWS) was not found on the helicopter that crashed.
Homendy thanked the public for submitting photos and information that helped aid the investigation.
Sheriff Villanueva took to the podium next to announce that the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office released four identities of the nine victims that perished in the January 26, 2020 crash: John Altobelli, 56; Sarah Chester, 45; Pilot Ara Zobayan, 50, and Kobe Bryant, 41.
LASD Press Conference Photos via LASD Facebook