Bryant Helo Crash Leaves Large Debris Field, Crater

 - January 28, 2020, 12:58 PM

The NTSB provided more details Monday on the fatal Southern California helicopter accident on Sunday that took the lives of retired basketball star Kobe Bryant and eight others. Board member Jennifer Homendy said the accident aircraft was placed in a 12-minute traffic hold by Burbank tower before being granted a special VFR transition. Near Calabasas, it began its final descending left-hand turn from an altitude of 2,300 feet and the main wreckage impacted terrain at 1,085 feet, producing a crater.

The debris field was 500-600 feet long with the main rotor system coming to rest 100 yards from the main wreckage location. The vertical stabilizer and part of the tail boom were located on the opposite side of the hill from the main wreckage.

The aircraft was not equipped with a cockpit voice recorder or a digital flight data recorder.

The pilot, Ara Zobayan, reported 8,200 hours of total flight time at his last physical in July 2019. Zobayan was using an iPad in the cockpit loaded with the ForeFlight system.

The FAA is currently using drones to map the accident scene, which has been secured with a five-mile radius TFR overhead and Los Angeles County Sheriff deputies on ATVs and horseback. The crash site is described and “rugged and remote” and Homendy said initial first responders who arrived on the scene were airdropped in. As of Monday afternoon, the Los Angeles County coroner reported recovering three sets of human remains. Recovery efforts were described as “difficult.” Homendy requested that anyone who has photos of weather conditions in the area at the time of the accident, approximately 9:45 a.m. local time Sunday, send them to witness@ntsb.gov.

The NTSB is expected to remain on scene for the remainder of the week.