Kobe Bryant death: 1 year after crash, bill introduced to mandate helicopter safety system

CALABASAS (CNS) -- One day ahead of the anniversary of the Calabasas helicopter crash that killed Laker legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, two California legislators on Monday announced a bill that would require Terrain Avoidance Warning Systems on all helicopters carrying six or more passengers.

"Mandatory terrain awareness equipment on all helicopters has been recommended by the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) for 15 years,'' said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, who announced the bill with Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks. "It's clear the simple addition of this equipment will help keep passengers safe and prevent crashes due to poor visibility.''

Despite the NTSB's recommendation that the equipment be mandatory, the Federal Aviation Administration only requires air ambulances to carry it. The bill being called the "Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act'' would require the equipment on all types of helicopters with six or more passengers.

A preliminary report from the NTSB found that the Jan. 26, 2020, crash that killed Bryant and eight others occurred as the pilot was flying in foggy weather. The helicopter was not equipped with terrain awareness technology when it slammed into a hillside.

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NTSB officials have not yet declared the cause of the crash or stated if TAWS would have played a factor in the passengers' survival. The NTSB has scheduled a Feb. 9 meeting to announce the results of its investigation.

Still, Feinstein said last January's tragedy shows "just how deadly flying in low visibility without this equipment can be.''

"The accident may very well have been avoided if terrain awareness equipment were mandatory as this bill will ensure it is,'' she said.

Sherman said he wants to see the FAA follow the NTSB's recommendation that all helicopters carrying six passengers or more be equipped with TAWS.

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"The Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act will finally direct the FAA to require these safety features for passenger helicopters in order to avoid tragedies like the one that claimed the life of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others,'' he said.

The FAA does not comment on pending legislation, a spokesman told City News Service.

Tune into Eyewitness News on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. for special coverage dedicated to honoring the victims of the Calabasas helicopter crash. You can also watch more stories streaming now on our ABC7 Los Angeles app for Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV and Android TV.
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