SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are beginning the meticulous investigation into what caused the fatal helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others Sunday morning.
The NTSB’s investigation will look into everything from weather conditions to the helicopter’s owner and operations.
Jennifer Homendy, NTSB Board Member, said, “Our team will be looking at the history of the pilot, whatever crew on board, maintenance records.”
Olivier Gruner, who pilots Chopper 5 for KPIX, says federal investigators will be thorough.
“They’re gonna make sure nobody touches anything,” Gruner said.
He knows a little something about the type of helicopter; the FAA says it was a Sikorsky Aircraft S-76-B, part of defense and aerospace giant Lockheed-Martin. According to Lockheed-Martin’s website, the S-76 series has a large cabin.
“It can carry twelve passengers with two pilots on board,” Gruner said. The series debuted in the 1970s. There are about 1,000 S-76-Bs worldwide.
“They use it for corporate or for medical,” he explained. “It’s a great helicopter.”
CONTINUING COVERAGE: Death of Kobe Bryant
FAA records say Kobe Bryant’s helicopter was built in 1991 and was registered to Island Express Holding Corporation. He often flew back and forth from his Orange County home to Lakers home games.
It is not clear who the pilot was when it crashed.
The aircraft’s maker, Sikorsky, says it will conduct its own investigation.
Sikorsky tweeted: “We extend our sincerest condolences to all those affected by today’s Sikorsky S-76B accident in Calabasas, California. We have been in contact with the NTSB and stand ready to provide assistance and support to the investigative authorities and our customer.”
News reports show a Sikorsky S-76 crashed in Canada and Turkey.
Otherwise, the company’s website says the type of aircraft has logged millions of hours without problems.