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Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash: N.T.S.B. Findings to Be Released

The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to release on Tuesday the results of its investigation into the helicopter crash in Southern California that killed Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people on their way to a youth basketball tournament last year.

The five members of the board convened at 9:30 a.m. Eastern for the live-streamed meeting, where they will go over the investigation into the crash, issue the group’s findings and make recommendations to avoid similar, deadly accidents.

Mr. Bryant, the retired star basketball player on the Los Angeles Lakers, was killed on Jan. 26, 2020, when the helicopter slammed into a fog-shrouded hill near Calabasas, Calif., erupting in flames. Everyone on board was killed, including the pilot, Ara Zobayan, two teenagers who were on Gianna’s basketball team, some of the children’s parents and an assistant coach.

The N.T.S.B. said shortly after the crash that there were no clear signs of significant engine failure, which gave more credence to the theory that Mr. Zobayan may have become disoriented in the heavy fog. He had written in a text message the night before the crash that the forecast looked to be “not the best” but, after waking in the morning, he wrote that it was “looking OK,” according to messages released last summer by the N.T.S.B.

Mr. Zobayan had requested special permission to fly through low-visibility areas. He was a widely respected pilot who had logged more than 1,200 hours in the S-76 helicopter and was certified to fly with the use of his instruments in low visibility. But the certification that the Federal Aviation Administration issued to the helicopter’s owner, Island Express Helicopters, only allowed its pilots to fly visually, meaning they must have at least a half-mile of daytime visibility and be able to see the ground.

Seconds before he crashed, according to the preliminary N.T.S.B. report, Mr. Zobayan told a flight controller he was trying to climb to 4,000 feet in an attempt to get above the clouds, but the helicopter was actually falling, investigators have said, a sign that he may have been disoriented. The helicopter crashed at 9:45 a.m., about 39 minutes after it had taken off from John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana.

Mr. Bryant, who won five N.B.A. championships and two Olympic gold medals, had in recent years found joy in coaching Gianna, who went by Gigi and was the second-oldest of Mr. Bryant’s four daughters with his wife, Vanessa. Their helicopter was headed to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, which was rebranded with Mr. Bryant’s nickname when he partnered with the academy in 2018. Gianna’s team, which Mr. Bryant helped to coach, was scheduled to compete in a basketball tournament that day called the Mamba Cup.

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