Congressman Seeks To Mandate HTAWS

 - February 11, 2020, 7:16 AM

Less than a week after the January 26 crash that killed basketball star Kobe Bryant and eight others, long-time aviation industry critic, California Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Thousand Oaks), introduced legislation to mandate terrain awareness and warning systems (TAWS) on all helicopters. In a press release accompanying the announcement of the “Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act,” Sherman declares, “Had this [TAWS] system been on the [accident] helicopter, it is likely the tragic crash could have been avoided.” The press release does not cite evidence for this claim.

Sherman’s bill would also “establish a commission on helicopter safety and require a report to Congress on best practices for helicopters in cases of low visibility.”

This is not the first time Sherman has introduced helicopter legislation. In 2011 he co-sponsored the “Los Angeles Residential Helicopter Noise Relief Act” which would have mandated flight paths and minimum altitudes for helicopters within the Los Angeles basin, proposals roundly criticized as ineffective, unworkable, unsafe, and ultimately rejected following thorough evaluation by the FAA in 2013. 


Seems to me there are already VFR/IFR and Marginal VFR rules in the FAR's. But leave it to an ignorant congressman to want more laws to cover the same thing.

TAWS might be a very good idea, but might not have prevented the crash. It's starting to look like the pilot was "spatially disoriented" and the copter was out of control when it crashed. He knew the mountains were there, even if he couldn't see them, and he was climbing up to avoid them and get flight following. He got disoriented as he climbed up through the clouds.

Ignorant congressman. 90% or better of all helicopters are never operated IFR. There are only two ways this accident could have been avoided. Land while still being able to see the ground or to have never taken off in those conditions.

I would wait for the NTSB report to be published before claiming that TAWS was the reason that could have prevented this tragic outcome. Many of the comments are valid and some of the human errors are almost obvious, but since there are so many more components involve in the attempt to come up with answers, I find the proposed legislation to be beyond premature. There are so many speculations to be made from the ADM, weather, currency, proficiency, safety, management, maintenance, that I would leave it to the ones in charge to do their professional work, and wait patiently for the completion of their investigation.