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No engine failure in Kobe Bryant helicopter crash

Wreckage at the scene of the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash showed no sign of engine failure, federal investigators said.

Kobe Bryant Instagram/@kobebryant

New details have emerged following the tragic helicopter crash that took the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant, and seven others.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an initial investigation of the crash shows that there was no engine failure. They say that it appears that the engine was working properly at the time of the crash because there was a cut tree branch at the scene.

The NTSB investigative update says, “The engines were found lying inverted near the empennage in the burned area. The accessory gearboxes and parts of the inlet cases of both engines were thermally destroyed. Viewable sections of the engines showed no evidence of an uncontained or catastrophic internal failure. The No. 2 engine first-stage compressor blades exhibited tip curl in the direction opposite of rotation, consistent with powered rotation at the time of impact. The engines were recovered for detailed disassembly examination.”

Friday’s (Feb. 7) update included multiple topics such as the flight history of the pilot and the helicopter, their interaction with air traffic controllers, and weather on that morning of the flight.

“These (updates) are usually a little bit of a road map of where the investigation is going to go,” said Peter Goelz, a former managing director of the NTSB. “If there were concerns about the equipment or anything else, it would be mentioned.

”In this case, they focused in on the weather, they focused in on the pilot’s interaction with air traffic control, and in the end I’m afraid the spotlight is going to be on the pilot and his decision-making.”

The report noted that the pilot Ara Zobayan scored adequate grades for operations needed in low-visibility conditions. He took skills training in meteorological conditions and abnormal altitude recovery in May of last year.

“It really just reinforces the tragic nature of this crash,” Goelz said. “It was a perfectly good helicopter. It was well-equipped. And, unfortunately, it was flying in marginal weather.”

He continued, ”And apparently the pilot got up into the clouds, realized that he was in a more difficult situation than he had planned on and tried to escape. Or simply lost situational awareness.”

NTSB will release the cause of the crash in its final report in the upcoming months.

To read the full report, click here.

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