Officials from the National Security Transportation Administration (NTSB) said at an accident investigation briefing Tuesday that the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter that crashed into a deserted mountain outside Calabasas was not equipped with a TAWS (Terrain Alert and Warning) system and that Bryant was on the plane to a basketball training camp in Thousand Oaks, California. The NTSB recommended as early as 2004 that all six-seat helicopters install the system to provide pilots with terrain warnings, high alerts, and downrate warnings.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a letter in 2006 saying it would consider the NTSB’s recommendation that the system be mounted on a helicopter without annoying false positives that would interfere with pilots’ attention. In response, the FAA requires all first aid helicopters to be equipped with TAWS, but other uses of helicopters are not mandatory.
In addition, the NTSB has repeatedly suggested that helicopters should also be equipped with cabin sounds and flight data recorders (black boxes). The FAA ignored this recommendation.
Now the NTSB has had to dig up the truth in the tower recording and radar data, and has called on residents at the site to provide photographs that reflect the weather conditions of the day (Sunday morning) to determine the cause of the accident.
The tower’s pilot had asked the tower for guidance, and the tower responded that the plane was too high to capture data from radar.
The pilot then tried to climb up to the clouds, then turned left and fell sharply, falling more than 2,000 feet per second, hitting the ground at a devastating speed, killing all nine people on board.
It took two days for forensics to find the remains, including Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna; college basketball coach John Altobelli and his wife and daughter,” Christina Mauser, a basketball junior class coach; and Sarah. Chester with his 13-year-old daughter Payton; helicopter pilot Ara Zobayan.