The entire world, particularly the area of LA, was in mourning recently as a basketball legend, icon, and superstar Kobe Bryant tragically died in a helicopter accident. Along with Kobe Bryant was his daughter Gianna along with seven other people. Everyone onboard the helicopter died. As investigations continue, there is limited information available. The helicopter was headed to Kobe’s daughter’s basketball game when it went down in foggy conditions in the area of Calabasas, CA. Footage of the wreck in the immediate aftermath showed a burning hulk with debris strewn everywhere. The footage was jarring to be sure. This has begged the question of whether or not a lawsuit might be coming, such as negligence or a wrongful death issue.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is still investigating the accident. Unlike on passenger planes that have a black box, there is no such requirement for helicopters. For those who might not know, a black box recorder is a device that records all audio coming in and out of the cockpit. In previous plane crashes, these boxes have been incredibly helpful in deciphering what happened prior to the accident. Then, changes can be made to prevent such accidents in the future. It is unclear why there is no black-box requirement for helicopters. Regardless, it is going to make deciphering the cause of the accident a bit more difficult.
One of the questions has to do with the pilot, who also went down with the helicopter. The weather was already poor and he requested additional clearance to take off in limited visibility. He also went on a visual flight plan, which is going to be called into question by the NTSB. In such conditions, one would expect the pilot to get his instructions from air traffic control. This is going to be the first area of scrutiny. If pilot error was the cause, that might limit the options given that he tragically perished with the helicopter.
In addition to the pilot, the investigators are going to be looking closely at the maintenance of the plane. They will look at the records first to make sure that everything was functioning properly. Then, they will investigate the remains of the crash. Given that much of the helicopter has broken apart, this is going to limit the scope and depth of the investigation; however, they will work with what they have.
Given the tremendous amount of public interest, expect the investigation to be as thorough as possible. It would not be surprising if someone is held liable for this tragic accident. The death of Kobe Bryant, along with several others, has left a massive void in the LA community that cannot be filled by anyone else.