Kobe Bryant’s tragic, final helicopter flight has spurred conversations about the rules and technology governing this sort of air travel.
The helicopter carrying Bryant, his daughter, and seven other people did not have a Terrain Awareness System (TAWS) which the National Transportation Safety Board had recommended for aircraft like this, but which the Federal Aviation Administration had declined to make mandatory.
While the NTSB will not have a dispositive ruling on the cause of the crash until their final report comes in 12 to 18 months time, pilot and aviation instructor Ryan Antoon was in the air the morning of the crash and joined us on Spectrum News 1 to shed some light on the terms and tech at play.
While it is unclear whether the TAWS technology would have helped prevent this crash, Antoon offers perspective on why the FAA may have declined to make it mandatory here, and the cost-benefit analysis of implementing them.
After explaining Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), Antoon told us that Bryant's pilot requesting and receiving “special VFR clearance” -- to fly when there is low cloud ceiling -- was not particularly unusual.
He also explained that “the charter companies that fly helicopters a lot of the time don’t have permission to fly IFR, they are strictly VFR.”
The NTSB expects to deliver a preliminary report in early February.