Investigators seeking to determine the cause of the fatal helicopter crash which caused the death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant have reached a probable conclusion, CBS Sports reports.
According to National Transportation Safety Board chairman Robert Sumwalt, Bryant's pilot, Ara Zobayan, flew the helicopter through thick fog, causing him to become disoriented. Zobayan attempted to fly the helicopter above the fog, but as he neared success, disorientation caused the helicopter to suddenly plunge from the air.
Sumwalt also noted that the pilot was flying under "visual flight rules," meaning that he was not allowed to fly if there was not clear visibility. Zobayan therefore was legally barred from flying at the time and is held responsible for the crash.
Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Zobayan, and six other occupants perished in the crash last January. The crash shook the world of basketball a little more than a year ago as Bryant was among the top performing athletes in the sport's history.
Bryant was accompanying his daughter, Gianna "Gigi" Bryant, to a youth basketball game at the Mamba Sports Academy. They were survived by Bryant's wife and their three other daughters.
The NTSB is also recommending that the FAA adopt a number of new regulations surrounding helicopter travel to ensure that similar crashes are not repeated. Among the recommendations is the introduction of warning system technology which would alert a pilot if they are about to crash. Under current regulations, such technology is only required on air ambulances.
The "Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act" was also introduced to Congress in order to propose a number of new safety regulations for helicopters. Aside from a crash warning system, the bill proposes the mandatory introduction of cockpit voice recorders and flight data recorders to helicopters.
Fatal helicopter crashes have increased in the United States over the past decade, especially among private and utility helicopters. Between 2015 and 2018, fatal helicopter crashes have increased by nearly 40 percent.