The helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant didn’t have a recommended warning system to alert the pilot he was too close to land but it’s not clear it would have averted the crash that killed nine because the pilot may have lost control as the aircraft plunged into a fog-shrouded mountain, federal investigators said Tuesday, The Associated Press informs.
Pilot Ara Zobayan had been climbing out of the clouds when the aircraft banked left and began a sudden and terrifying 1,200-foot (366-meter) descent that lasted nearly a minute, AP adds.
“This is a pretty steep descent at high speed,” said Jennifer Homendy of the National Transportation Safety Board. “We know that this was a high-energy impact crash.”
The aircraft was intact when it hit the ground, but the impact spread debris over more than 500 feet (150 meters). Remains of the final victims were recovered Tuesday and so far the remains of Bryant, Zobayan and two other passengers have been identified using fingerprints, AP writes.
Determining what caused the crash will take months, but investigators may again recommend that to avoid future crashes helicopters carrying six or more passenger seats be equipped with a Terrain Awareness and Warning System that would have sounded an alarm if the aircraft was in danger of crashing.
The agency made that recommendation after a similar helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76A carrying workers to an offshore drilling ship, crashed in the Gulf of Mexico near Galveston, Texas, killing all 10 people on board in 2004.