A confidential settlement has been reached in at least one of the lawsuits spawned by the helicopter crash that killed retired basketball legend Kobe Bryant and eight others last year. Settlement papers filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles indicate that the plaintiffs—all surviving family members of the crash victims—have struck a deal with aircraft operator Island Express Helicopters and the estate of pilot Ara Zobayan.
All aboard the Sikorsky S-76B were killed when it crashed on Jan. 26, 2020, near Calabasas, California, in thick fog on a VFR Part 135 flight from Santa Ana to Bryant’s Mamba Academy youth basketball camp in Thousand Oaks, California. Zobayan was the sole pilot aboard.
In February, the NTSB found that the probable cause of the accident was “the pilot's decision to continue flight under visual flight rules into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), which resulted in the pilot’s spatial disorientation and loss of control. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s likely self-induced pressure and the pilot’s plan continuation bias which adversely affected the pilot’s decision-making, and Island Express Helicopter Inc.’s inadequate review and oversight of the safety management processes.”
Other litigation related to the crash remains pending, including a counterclaim filed by Island Express against two of the air traffic controllers who handled the flight.