The National Transportation Safety Board investigation has alleged that NBA legend’s death, Kobe Bryant alongside eight others on board, was due to the pilot’s Ara Zobayan disorientation, making him lost control.
The federal investigation made this statement on Tuesday, stating that the Jan. 26, 2020 crash was solely due to Ara’ decision to fly despite visual flight rules in cloudy conditions, resulting in his spatial disorientation and loss of control of the aircraft.
Zobayan’s possible self-induced pressure to get the NBA legend to his destination and the incomplete review of the safety management procedures by helicopter operator Island Express also added to the crash.
NTSB explained that Ara’s ”poor decision” to fly at an excessive speed amidst lousy weather, with the helicopter not in a controlled flight pattern, were factors that led to the crash of the aircraft and the death of passengers onboard, including Kobe Bryant.
Bill English, the NTSB investigator, told the board that Zobayan said the air traffic control that he was ”climbing to 4,000 feet” to fly above the clouds. Still, Aza, according to English, was experiencing spatial disorientation because the helicopter swayed to the left, losing connection to the 1010 freeway while communicating with the controller that it’s now descending.
Dr. Dunjuan Sevillian said the misinterpretation of the altitude and acceleration of Zobayan was what led to what is known as Somatogravic illusion. This flying defect makes the pilot assume the aircraft is climbing when it’s not.
“Our inner ear can give us a false sense of orientation,” Sevillian said, noting that a lack of visual cues while being surrounded by clouds worsens the problem, and the pilot suffers what is known as “the leans.”