ROME – At the base of the crash of the Kobe Bryant helicopter, in which in addition to the basketball champion, eight other people died, there is almost certainly fog . An environmental situation in which flying required a special authorization obtained from the pilot. This is what is learned from the conversations between the pilot and an air traffic control officer at the Burbank airport that were published on the LiveATC specialized website. A green light that at this point will be at the center of the investigation which will have to shed light on the causes of the accident.
The investigations by the American Aviation Authority, Air Transport Security and the FBI are still ongoing but the first indications are clear. According to reports from Tmz and Slate, citing police sources and based on Flightradar data, visibility was in fact extremely reduced due to the fog.
Los Angeles international airport had delayed several flights. And for the same reason, the police had left the air support on the ground. A police spokesman, quoted by CNN, said that "the weather conditions did not meet the minimum standards for flying". Tracker data show that Kobe's helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76B , had encountered weather problems for the first time in the area above the Los Angeles zoo. He flew over the area at least 6 times at a very low altitude – around 268 meters – perhaps waiting for the fog to clear.
The pilot – writes TMZ – contacted the control tower of Burbank airport around 9.30 am (local time, 6.30 pm in Italy) and the tower was aware of the fact that the pilot had been turning in circles for about 15 minutes . The pilot eventually headed north on Highway 118 before turning west and following Highway 101 around Woodland Hills, California. At around 9:40 am – with the fog getting even thicker – the helicopter turned south. The choice proved to be fatal because they headed towards a mountainous area. The pilot rose suddenly from around 365 meters to 609 meters. However, a few moments later – around 9.45 am – they crashed into a hill at 518 meters high. The tracker data show that they were flying at around 298 km / h.
The helicopter, just before the crash, operated according to the Visual flight rules (Vfr) , that is, the rules of flight at sight: the reasoning at the base is to move in the air making sure on the one hand to see what is around, but even to be seen. Among the pilot's expected behaviors there is also that of separating from obstacles on the surface. The helicopters, according to the Vfr rules, can operate with visibility in flight of less than 1,500 meters, but not less than 800 meters.
Mountain bikers who witnessed the accident were the first to call the firefighters. The flames, released after the crash, made the rescue intervention even more complicated. Bryant used the same helicopter when he was still playing with the Lakers. His last trip was to bring his daughter Gianna, 13, to a game. The basketball legend preferred the helicopter "to avoid Los Angeles traffic" and because "he was not comfortable in the car".
Only in the past week, he had used it several times. Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin subsidiary, also produces vehicles for the military. The company markets the Sikorsky S-76 to executives of private transportation companies, although it is also used for search and rescue missions.
It typically costs about $ 13 million, can carry up to 12 passengers, is equipped with two turboshaft engines and has an autonomy of 760 kilometers. More than 178 corporate and VIP clients currently use Sikorsky S-76 helicopters, as well as several heads of state. A Sikorsky S-76 crashed in Canada in 2013, as well as another in Turkey in 2017. The company's website, however, points out that the helicopter has "more than 7.4 million hours of safe flight and successfull". (source AGI)
Source: Blitz Quotidiano