Death of Kobe Bryant: Pilot was flying higher to avoid a cloud layer

WION Web Team California, United States of America Jan 28, 2020, 12.02 PM(IST)

Kobe Bryant retires in 2016 Photograph:( AFP )

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In his last transmission to the air traffic control, he said that he was climbing to avoid a cloud layer.

Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among the nine passengers who died in a fatal helicopter crash. They were en route to a basketball match in Thousands Oak, in which Bryan's daughter was expected to play. Former Lakers legend was expected to coach the team.

Also see- Basketball champion Kobe Bryant: His life in pictures

National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) has started an investigation regarding the crash.

As the investigation unravels new aspects of crash keep pouring in. Pilot Ara Zobayan was flying the helicopter. He held a commercial helicopter license and was a certified flight instructor, according to Federal Aviation Administration records cited by the New York Times.

In his last transmission to the air traffic control, he said that he was climbing to avoid a cloud layer.

And after that communication, the pilot didn't respond to the air traffic control, according to the National Transport Safety Board.

The crash took place into a hillside in Calabasas, Califonia. The impact of the crash broke the chopper into pieces, debris created due to the crash stretched from about 500 to 600 feet.

The NTSB board member, Jennifer Homendy told the reporters that the last radar contact was around 9:45 AM. She said that the accident scene was 'pretty devastating'.

"There is (an) impact area on one of the hills and a piece of the tail is down the hill, on the left side of the hill," Homendy said. "The fuselage is over on the other side of that hill, and then the main rotor is about 100 yards beyond that," she added.

According to Jennifer Homendy, the pilot took off from JohnWayne Airport, in Orage County and was flying under regular visual flight rules (VFR), but around Burbank, the pilot requested for special visual flight rules (SVFR) due to low visibility. The helicopter circled for 12 minutes until the air traffic control approved the request. The SVFR allows the pilot to fly amid bad weather conditions.

Homendy continued that the pilot requested flight following, which is radar assistance for a flight that helps the pilot avoid traffic, But air traffic control said the helicopter was too low to provide flight following assistance.

The investigation is still on, and Sikorsky, the helicopter manufacturer, tweeted its condolences.