National Transportation Safety Board officials have revealed that the helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna (a.k.a. Gigi), and seven other passengers was not equipped with a terrain alarm system that could have warned the pilot he was approaching a hillside, the Los Angeles Timesreports.
“So we know that this was a high-energy impact crash, and the helicopter was in a descending left bank,” NTSB investigator Jennifer Homendy said at a press conference on Tuesday (January 28). She added that the helicopter was at 2,300 feet when it lost communication with air traffic controllers. The helicopter reportedly plunged at a rate of 2,000 feet per minute before crashing into a mountain in Calabasas.
NTSB officials believe a terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS) would have alerted the pilot of the terrain around him, especially since the crash occurred about 20 to 30 feet above an outcropping of the hill.
During Tuesday’s press conference, Homendy confirmed that the NTSB requested that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) require TAWS on all helicopters that seated six or more passengers after a crash in Galveston, Texas back in 2004 killed 10 people. However, the FAA did not implement the recommendation and the proposal was closed, People reports. Homendy said the FAA has still “failed to act” on the advice.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner announced in a press release that the bodies of the nine victims were recovered.
“On Sunday afternoon, personnel from the department’s Special Operations Response Team (SORT) recovered three bodies from the helicopter wreckage located in the 4200 block of Las Virgenes Road in Calabasas,” the release said, per People. “The next day, the search continued for the other six helicopter occupants. Soon after, their bodies were located, removed from the crash site and transported to the department’s Forensic Science Center.”
Investigators are working to identify the victims through “the use of fingerprints.” So far they’ve identified Kobe, John Altobelli, Sarah Chester, and the pilot Ara Zobayan. The Coroner’s Office is working to identify the bodies of the remaining five victims: Gianna, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser, Keri Altobelli and Alyssa Altobelli.
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