Kobe Crash Investigation: Why was Pilot Cleared to Fly in Poor Weather?

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Investigators are examining why the pilot was cleared to fly in poor weather conditions in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and others; plus, more of today’s weather news and forecast.

Kobe Bryant’s helicopter allowed to fly in poor weather, while LAPD grounded their choppers

An 18-member team from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the wreckage site of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, the pilot, and 8 others on Sunday. The NTSB is being assisted by FBI forensic specialists.

Bryant’s helicopter was a Sikorsky S-76, roughly the civilian version of a Black Hawk, considered to be and reliable and generally safe aircraft.

Investigators from the NTSB are questioning why the pilot for Kobe Bryant’s helicopter was cleared to fly despite poor conditions due to fog, even though the air support division of the Los Angeles Police Department had grounded its choppers due to the weather.

The helicopter fleets belonging to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was also completely grounded. LAPD helicopters did not fly till later in the afternoon.

Forecasters had reported low clouds and limited visibility at the time of the crash, and there was a thick fog over the foothills where the helicopter went down, according to eyewitnesses.

Bryant’s helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California around 10 AM local time, roughly 40 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

Kobe’s pilot requested permission to fly in poor visibility

According to reports, Bryant’s helicopter pilot, Ara Zobayan, requested special permission to fly through the fog and what is called a request of special “visual flight rules” (VFR), in which the pilot relies on their own site. VFR is one of two sets of rules for pilots.

The other is called “instrument flight rules” (IFR) in which the pilot uses their instruments and relies on air traffic control to watch their flight pattern on radar to help guide them on the flight.

With IFR, a pilot is under the direct control of air traffic control at all times, meaning, the pilot must do what air traffic control instructs them to do.

There is speculation now, based on dialogue between the pilot and Eric traffic control, that the pilot may have gone lower, beneath the fog and ceiling. So low, in fact, that he flew into the mountain.

However, possible mechanical failure cannot be ruled out and is still being investigated.

Frequency of strong storms and flooding could double in 13 years, new study suggests

In only a decade and a third, the number of strong storms and intense flooding around the world could double in frequency, according to a new study that examined climate breakdown and socioeconomic factors.

The study is the first of its kind to incorporate both historical local and global climate data with information pertaining to population density, income, and poverty in order to predict future weather disasters.

The criteria was any storm large enough to affect 1000 people or kill 100 people. The authors concluded that the world can expect the number of hard-hitting weather disasters around the world to double within 13 years.

The countries with the highest risk of significant weather disasters are Bangladesh, China, and Australia. The researchers found that, broadly, governments around the world are critically unprepared.

Today’s US forecast highs

Northwest: Seattle 51, Portland 51, Boise 41.

West: San Francisco 57, Los Angeles 75, Reno 50, Las Vegas 65.

Northern Rockies: Billings 46, Bismarck 31, Rapid City 45.

Central plains: Kansas City 34, Oklahoma City 42.

Southwest: Salt Lake City 41, Denver 50, Phoenix 70, Albuquerque 49.

South: El Paso 60, Lubbock 47, San Antonio 73, Houston 65, New Orleans 65.

Upper Midwest: Minneapolis 23, Detroit 34.

Ohio Valley: Chicago 35, St. Louis 36, Cincinnati 38, Memphis 53.

Southeast: Norfolk 49, Charlotte 54, Atlanta 56, Jacksonville 66, Tampa 71, Miami 78.

Northeast: Washington 47, Buffalo 33, New York 44, Boston 41, Bangor 22.