The rotors of Kobe Bryant's helicopter were still spinning the moment it crashed, further suggesting a disoriented pilot was to blame

kobe bryant

  • The engine of Kobe Bryant’s helicopter did not fail when it crashed on January 26, killing 9 people, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said.
  • An updated NTSB report Friday eliminated engine failure as a theory for why the crash happened.
  • This leaves it more likely that the crash was down to the pilot becoming confused in heavy fog.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others was found to have no engine failure, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Friday.

The aircraft, a Sikorsky S-76B, crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California, at 9:45 a.m. on January 26.

 “Viewable sections of the engines showed no evidence of an uncontained or catastrophic internal failure,” the report said.

Kobe Bryant Helicopter NTSB security camera footage

Experts told the Associated Press (AP) that the latest update “reinforces the notion the pilot became disoriented and crashed while trying to get to clear skies.”

According to the AP summary of the report, investigators concluded the rotors were still turning right before impact.

They reached that conclusion by analyzing a tree which was cut by the spinning rotors at the time of impact, all four of which showed similar damage.

The report also said that Pilot Ara Zobayan, who was given “unusual clearance to fly in foggy conditions.”

In the final seconds of the flight, the helicopter climbed rapidly, to within 100 feet of the tops of the clouds.

However, the helicopter then veered left and hit the hillside. 

Crash site

Business Insider previously reported that the helicopter was not certified by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly in poor visibility conditions. 

A witness told investigators the landscape was surrounded by mist when he saw the helicopter crash. He described hearing the helicopter get louder and louder before he saw it emerge from the clouds and crash. 

USA Today reported that at one point investigators thought engine failure could be the cause of the crash, given how fast it descended.

However, the NTSB report appears to have put that theory to rest. 

When it crashed, the helicopter was travelling at more than 180 mph. Investigators said most of the “significant components” of wreckage were found not far from the crash site.

Bryant, Gianna, and the other passengers were headed to a basketball game at the Mamba Sports Academy.

Kobe Bryant

The other passengers were Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester,Payton Chester, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, and Alyssa Altobelli also died in the crash. 

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Source: businessinsider
The rotors of Kobe Bryant's helicopter were still spinning the moment it crashed, further suggesting a disoriented pilot was to blame