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Charter Company In Bryant Crash Operated VFR-Only

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Island Express, the aircraft charter company that owned the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter that impacted a hillside in Calabasas, California, on Sunday killing all nine people onboard including retired NBA star Kobe Bryant, is a VFR-only operation, according to information from the NTSB and a former company employee. (www.avweb.com) 更多...

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linbb
linbb 13
Why don't the people get over calling it the Bryant crash as there were 7 more people killed not just him and his daughter. There were several more families that were killed one had mother, daughter and father all killed unknown due to dumb reporting if there were any more children in that family.
The were just as important to there loved ones as he was so lets call it the crash that killed 9 people.
Jackx9
Don Quixote 9
I totally agree, but let's be honest...this story would never be as big if it weren't for Bryant on board.
sporty222
Why not call it the "Island Express-Sikorsky S-76-Bryant Friends and Family crash?"
tongo
Dan Grelinger 2
You forgot to add the tail number....
tongo
Dan Grelinger -1
Calling it the Bryant crash is more specific and clear. I know what that is. If there is another crash that kills nine people, will we now have confusion?

In this specific case, they were all guests of Bryant, he was paying for the trip, so calling it the Bryant crash for that reason makes sense.

It is not disrespectful to the other victims to identify the crash is a clear manner by calling it the Bryant crash, and I have heard none of the family suggest such.
Jackx9
Don Quixote 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXTduZsw3XU&list=WL&index=4&t=0s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqFIPmHY9Qk&list=WL&index=3&t=0s

This is the helicopter Kobe and the 8 others flew on.

Question, if you look inside...how did 8(excluding the pilot) fit in there? Did someone sit upfront? Looks like a tight squeeze, seating looks for only 6.
Jackx9
Don Quixote 1
I guess the young girls were able to sit closer together, saving room for the adults
pwpereira
Pete Pereira 3
The pilot had an Instrument Rating... but was he current for IFR flying? The weather cetainly was not VFR and his SVFR clearance was not valid beyond the airport envoronment.
RetiredCaptain
Jasper Buck 2
Good question and a valid one. I wonder, considering that his employer did not have IFR authorization on the Operations Specifications, if he met the currency requirements of FAR 61.57. I'm guessing that he did not. I'm sure the NTSB will look into that as well as other human factors issues.

Best

J Buck
FAA Aviation Safety Inspector (Ret.)
airuphere
airuphere 1
Also there are no approaches published for the helipad nearest to maba academy.. so IFR would be moot as he’d have to land at VanNuys or Oxnard
mbrews
mbrews -1
The avweb article clarifies the equipment on this craft. Appears that Island Express might have interpreted IFR as " I Follow Roads " Tragically unwise on Foggy days.
watkinssusan
recently there was another "fog related" crash of a helicopter in a mountainous area of one of the hawaiian islands..it was a tour operater, and the pilot,as with this one, had many hours of flight time..weather services and computers can predict the possibility of fog in any given area,but it comes and goes in layers and often not where you expect it..a computer graphic was shown on one of the networks,showing the flight path of the "chopper" carrying bryant and the other passengers,and it appeared to show the pilot following along the coastal highway,then suddnely turninng and bankinng in circles,probably because he was disoriented by heavy fog..the ntsb will examine all of the details,the wreckage,any recording or paperwork found,and then the speculation will stop..vfr means flying only where you can see,and with the hours of flight time the pilot had,he still may have been disoriented...
JoukoJRissanen
Simple.. left airport. Encountered low scud, called in for s vfr. Circled in vfr until got squawk code.. flew Svfr..
Encountered fog.. no longer flying special vfr rules. Went into clouds. Got disoriented and crashed.
He had no business flying S-76 single pilot in these conditions. Shudder had two pilots monitoring, or taking the over water low route and landed on north Malibu golf course and ubered the rest. JMO
airuphere
airuphere 1
That would answer all the questions about his not obtaining an IFR route.. question: I’m assuming not all helipads can accommodate IFR? Perhaps the one at his training facility couldn’t?
airuphere
airuphere 1
I’ve read the section and my understanding is helicopters can fly SIAPs to get to minimus to land. The fire dept pad in Thousand Oaks 1CP8 has no published procedures and lists the closest airports that do as KOXR, KNVY etc... flying IFR would of been pointless unless he was going to one of those fields which is still a drive to his academy.. go fever..
linbb
linbb 6
The point is he was pushing things in a heli that was moving very fast and required much more vis than was safe at that speed. Why he turned will forever be unknown for sure. Looks like he was lost and in the fog. Not the first time or the last many push vis and get away with it and bet he was one that had many times due to who he was flying with. Pressure from his company to move pax and do it in questionable weather was another may never come to light but bet it was pushed.
Highflyer1950
Highflyer1950 1
KCMA, I believe was the destination....limo from there.
TorstenHoff
Torsten Hoff 1
On paper, maybe. But then they could have taken a shorter, more direct route along the coast, or even used a fixed-wing aircraft.
Highflyer1950
Highflyer1950 1
That’s what I was wondering? Also, the area airports were VFR at departure according to the metars SNA, VNY, BUR - all had 3 to 4 miles in haze so I get the decision to go, but that aircraft that went missed at BUR delaying the SVFR request kind of indicates the coastal fog bank happened very quickly. Flying in the Simi Valley, Calabasas, Thousand Oaks areas with thickening coastal fog definitely would have been challenging.
bentwing60
bentwing60 2
In the season, now, if it ain't there by sun up + 1 hour you might not get it. But then you might. As reliable as Red River thunderstorms!
n9341c
n9341c 1
Charter Company in Bryant Crash Operated VFR-Only.....and....?....and...? Man in Montana Changes Shirt? Sorry Av Web, that ain't unusual for these kinds of operations at all. Please go back to reporting about ADS B or something.
bbabis
bbabis 1
10 years with a VFR only company. The skill set for instrument flying is pretty shot at that point and the chance of controlling anything IFR much less the S-76 in a sudden IFR encounter would have been minimal at best.
tongo
Dan Grelinger 0
What? Pilot experience determines IFR competency. Was the pilot current? Wasn’t he a CFII for rotorcraft? That is pertinent! NOT that one of the company’s he worked for commercial flights were limited to VFR flights only.

It is irrational conclusions like this that give people credibility problems.
bbabis
bbabis 1
Did you read the story Dan? His last 10 years had been with a VFR only company. Skills diminish over time if unused. Wether he maintained IFR currency some other way, I don’t know. The result of this flight says probably not. His ratings say he may have had a better chance than most encountering IFR while VFR but it still wasn’t enough.
tongo
Dan Grelinger 1
Why do you assume that all the flying he ever did was commercial flights for the company he worked for? Has this been reported?
Highflyer1950
Highflyer1950 1
It was either Private and/or Commercial certificated! Commercial leases allow private owner flights while charter requires an Operating Certificate and if the company has an Ops Spec for IFR flight, the file IFR? I think commercial Helo ops are certificated the same as fixed wing ops but I could be wrong!
tongo
Dan Grelinger 0
What was either Private and/or Commercial certifications? Pilots are certificated in this way, but aircraft and operators are not. I’ve never seen a ‘Private’ certificate for either an aircraft or operator.
bentwing60
bentwing60 1
Aircraft are indeed certified this way to serve in commercial operations! They must meet an inspecton/Compliance check before they can be accepted and operateed on a 121, 135, 141 operating certificate. They must also be maintained under an FAA Approved Maintenance Program, (AAIP) so long as they are operated under the auspices of any commercial certificate. 'Private' aircraft do not have to comply with service letters or 100 hour inspections, Commercial aircraft Do!
tongo
Dan Grelinger 0
Is there a Private certificate for aircraft? I own an airplane and have never seen it.

I understand that commercial operations have requirements to meet, but I was not responding to that. I was responding to the the statement “It was either Private and/or Commercial certificated!”

What must I do to obtain the ‘private’ certification for my aircraft that you claim I should have?
Highflyer1950
Highflyer1950 1
The distinction is an owner can have a management company operate his aircraft for him, provide maintenance and flight crewing etc. The management company may have a Operating Certificate which states what it can and can’t do. It may operate as an on call charter for clients (part 135, commercial for fixed wing) or for owners’ (part 91, private). Both FAR’s require different rules. In Canada I believe it was called a POC, Private Operator Certificate.
tongo
Dan Grelinger 0
So, there is no Private certificate here in the USA (pertinent for this whole topic). Whew, I feel better now that my aircraft does not have one. Thanks for supporting my assertion that bentwing60 was making it all up.

Please don’t continue to confuse a company’s Operating Certificates with imaginary ‘Private and Commercial’ certificate for aircraft. Words matter. Details matter.
Highflyer1950
Highflyer1950 2
Actually you are still confused! You operate your aircraft under Part 91, that’s Private. As I said, some owners lease their aircraft to a company that operates under Part 135, that is commercial. The Helo that crashed carrying Bryant was in all probability operating under Private rules, I’m not sure. What is certain is the weather was marginal VFR at best. Bent Wing made nothing up.
tongo
Dan Grelinger 0
You are the one who confused. I’ve said nothing about the rules the aircraft was operating under. You keep changing the subject.

I’ve said, and still stand by it, that the aircraft are not certificated for private OR commercial operations. If they were, I’d think I have one or the other for my aircraft, and I don’t have either. Am I going to jail?

Words matter, details matter.
bentwing60
bentwing60 1
Do you know which "restroom" to use?
tongo
Dan Grelinger 0
Is that a response of someone who can’t respond intelligently to a request to substantiate an assertion that is likely not true?

Perhaps you are confusing aircraft certification and operating requirements? Those are two different things, are they not? At least he FAA treats them as entirely separate. Who knows, maybe they aren’t the authority on it and you are.

Again, if your assertions are correct and aircraft are private or commercially certificated, provide the certificate requirements. Should be easy for you to find.

My bold predictions:

1. You won’t provide them, because they don’t exist.
2. IF you respond at all, it will be with a similar comment intended to blow smoke on the fact that you don’t know what you are talking about.

If you want to prove yourself right, back up your assertions with references. Simple request (again).
tongo
Dan Grelinger 1
I checked. He WAS a CFII for helicopters. Why would you assume that he did not instruct in IFR as part of the exercise of this rating?
Highflyer1950
Highflyer1950 1
99% of IFR training is in VFR conditions!
tongo
Dan Grelinger 1
Source please? I am IFR rated (ASEL) and much more than 1% of my IFR training was in actual. I even had a great training flight shooting approaches to minimums in northeast Texas.
Highflyer1950
Highflyer1950 1
It’s actually a good thing that you had training in actual (not simulated) IFR weather. Most IFR instructors choose not to teach ab initio private pilots in actual IFR weather that are at minimums in a single engine aircraft. My educated guess on 99% was based on in cloud time, it may be closer to 90% however! BTW, a private pilot may not be a credited weather observer but an ATPL is. Check your FAR’s under ATPL flight planning.
tongo
Dan Grelinger 0
I did a search for ‘weather’ in the Airline Transport Pilot Certification requirements and found nothing about training sufficient to be considered a trained weather observer. In fact, I found nothing concerning weather observation at all. A whole lot about dealing with adverse weather, but NOTHING on how to make qualified weather observations.

I am not a fully trained weather observer, but I have received some weather observation training from the National Weather Service.

Please let me know section of the FAR’s for ATPL specifies the ‘weather observer‘ accreditation that a candidate for the license is required to have.

Thanks for backtracking on your claim that 99% of IFR training is in VFR conditions. However, your 90% guess sounds like its just as unsubstantiated. I dug out my first logbook to determine how much actual I had during my IFR training. AT my IFR checkride, I had 7.0 hours of actual and 34.6 hours of simulated (under the hood) time. My math tells me that my experience was that 17% of my training was in actual IFR conditions. A far cry from 1%.

If you haven’t figured it out, I have little respect for baloney being passed off as truth.
tongo
Dan Grelinger 0
I’ll take your silence as an admission that you irresponsibly declared your assumption, based on no facts, that the pilot’s IFR experience was inadequate.
Highflyer1950
Highflyer1950 2
He crashed in IFR weather,
tongo
Dan Grelinger 0
Your comment shows that you do not understand the conversation.

That he crashed in IFR weather is an assumption you have accepted from some accounts of the weather that day, and is certainly a possibility, but still an assumption. There were no ceiling/visibility reporting stations near the crash site, and from my review of the reports, no trained weather observers made any observations at that time either. I suggest that one must be very careful making assumptions that others are operating illegally and irresponsibly when all the available facts are unknown.

But, what does that have to do with assumptions about his flying experience, which was Bill was talking about?

This pilot was rated for IFR flight in helicopters and was an instructor for instrument flight in helicopters. It’s ridiculous to knee-jerk assume that the pilot did not have IFR experience for 10 years because (one of?) the companies he worked for provided VFR-only commercial operations. To maintain his currency, he would have had to fly in actual or simulated IFR conditions frequently, (quite possibly in the accident aircraft) and if he was exercising his privilege to provide instrument flight instruction to IFR students, he would have had even more experience. These are much, much more reasonable assumptions to make in the absence of an analysis of his logbook than the assumption that Bill made.
Highflyer1950
Highflyer1950 2
Commercial pilots are trained weather observers. All the surrounding airports at the time of departure reported marginal VFR conditions. Burbank got so bad an airliner missed it’s approach delaying the hello‘s special VFR clearance....that’s a sign right there. Coastal fog comes inland and the helo was tracking towards the coast? Flying hours in the logbook is just total time, flying time logged in actual instrument conditions accounts for less than 10%. Following a highway road system into deteriorating weather, rising mountainous terrain, too low even for radar assistance and speed was never reduced. There was a lot more lacking here than just skill, I agree with Bill.
tongo
Dan Grelinger 1
You have a habit of making things up. Commercial pilots are NOT trained weather observers. There is no weather observer training required to get a commercial pilot certificate. My airplane co-owner has his commercial rating and would be hard pressed to provide an accurate cloud ceiling.

Marginal VFR is not IFR, so again, you have no official information to back up your assumptions of IFR at the crash site. IFR, maybe, but you are saying it was definite, an irresponsible statement.

“Flying time logged in actual instrument conditions accounts for less than 10%”. Interesting, you did not address my request for sources to back up your bogus statement that 99% of IFR flight training is in VFR conditions. I’m guessing that this more unsupported spouting.
Highflyer1950
Highflyer1950 2
16,000+, hours, ATPL rated in 3 counties, USA, Canada, Great Britain....10 Jet type ratings incl. 2 heavy. I’m not perfect but pretty well qualified....you?
tongo
Dan Grelinger 1
Since you asked... 20+ years continuous flying experience 1000+ hours, ASEL with Instrument rating, complex and HP endorsements.

My suggestion is that all that experience has lulled you into being comfortable passing unsubstantiated and unreasonable information as truth. My advice (free and you are free to ignore it) is to place a higher standard on yourself of the accuracy for what you say.

First you say 99% of IFR training is simulated (I claim you made that up, and you have not responded with ANY sources to back up the claim) and I know that my own experience (documented in my logbook if you want a copy) is that 17% of my IFR training was in actual, all signed off by my instructor.

Then you say that ‘weather observer training’ is required to get a commercial pilot certificate, but I think I demonstrated that to be bunk, based on my airplane co-owner’s experience getting his commercial license. I have also reviewed the training materials for a commercial certificate and found no ‘weather observer’ training.

Then you changed your story to be that ATPL’s were required to receive a weather observer ‘certificate’, but I did research and found no such requirement.

You’re not exactly batting a thousand on your statements.
Highflyer1950
Highflyer1950 1
I never said you had to have a separate weather requirement, the ATPL, and many thousands of hours gives you that ability to understand weather. The claim you say, is from instructing IFR, conducting check rides, route checks, TRE & TRI , PART 121. So you average just over 4 hours a month, how many in IFR conditions? now I understand your statements. Go back, read the FAR’s and don’t confuse your limited experience with those who make a living at it.
tongo
Dan Grelinger 1
This is what you said: “ BTW, a private pilot may not be a credited weather observer but an ATPL is.”

You’re backtracking again. Saying that an ATPL is a ‘credited weather observer’ is completely different from saying that the experience of exercising ATPL privileges ‘gives you the ability to understand weather”. Your first statement is false. I happen to agree with the second.

You have no respect for the meaning of the words that you use. You tell me to check the FARs, I do and don’t find what you say is there, so I ask for a reference, you can’t provide one, but belittle me. Hmmmmm.

Don’t belittle my experience when your experience fails to come through in your posts.
Highflyer1950
Highflyer1950 1
Not belittling you, I just don’t agree with your analysis. You don't seem to know what every other professional commercial, ATPl pilot does. Fair enough you are neither. Happy Flying.
tongo
Dan Grelinger 1
My analysis is quite simple. A trained weather observer receives training specific to making weather observations. This training is important to being able to determine cloud ceiling height, in addition to precise estimations of visibility.

Pilots receive training on interpreting weather observations and responding to adverse weather conditions.

These are two different things. When you say that an ‘ATPL is a credited weather observer’, you are flat out wrong.

If you think you are right, use your extensive knowledge of the regulations to prove it.

As a bonus, if you provide proof ATPL’s are ‘credited weather observers’ (which, by definition, means they have accredited credentials), then I will apologize for saying that you are wrong.

Otherwise I ask you to man up and say that you were incorrect when you made that statement.
bbabis
bbabis 2
Dan, Maybe pictures will help.

This is a picture of the Wx from above at the place of the crash at the time of the crash.

https://static-ssl.businessinsider.com/image/5e3e3b21d9db1d0364787ca3-2000/screen%20shot%202020-02-07%20at%2083353%20pm.png

This is a picture in the same area from the ground at the time of the crash.

https://media.zenfs.com/en-us/accuweather_297/5f4bf7dce80af60f8fc731bb2f84571e

They were gathered in the investigation. I'm pretty sure it was IFR. Not VFR, MVFR, or SVFR. No assumptions have been made. VFR flight in IFR conditions has never been a good idea.
tongo
Dan Grelinger 1
Bill, There you are! You ARE reading these responses! Why ignore the main point of my post? That is, that your suggestion that the pilot’s IFR skills were shot was an unreasonable assumption not backed up by any data. Do you have any basis for that statement? That’s the one that was the issue. Am I correct in assuming you‘ve ignored my challenge to provide justification because you admit your claim was unsubstantiated and unreasonable?

I’ve never said that conditions were not IFR at the time of the accident, just that I have seen no official statement or evidence of that fact. Suggestions, yes, such as the links you provided. But nothing definitive.
bbabis
bbabis 1
This accident flight took place between the ground and 2300' as per factual reporting. Pictures taken at the time of the accident in the area of the accident show IFR conditions from the ground to 2400'. In 48 years of flying I have never been between layers in fog. Pilots don't fly into the ground at high speed if they see it. No assumption, no suggestion. He was IFR. Sadly, just 100' or so from breaking out on top before he lost it.

Now, to his IFR capability as a pilot. This is a statement from former Island Express pilot Kurt Deetz. Deetz said Zobayan previously had told him that he did not have actual experience flying in clouds, despite being certified. Deetz said that isn't uncommon.
tongo
Dan Grelinger 1
Zobayan was not only certified to fly in IFR conditions he was certified to teach IFR students in IFR conditions.

Please provide a link to those statements from Kurt Deetz. If my memory serves me correctly, he also flew Kobe in this helicopter, but I saw nothing like what you said he said reported.
bbabis
bbabis 1
Here is one. I'm sure there are others.

https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/28654661/kobe-bryant-helicopter-was-100-feet-clear-skies-crash-investigators-say
tongo
Dan Grelinger 1
May we take a wider look? From Forbes: “ “I don’t think he had any actual [experience] inside the clouds,” says Deetz,”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeremybogaisky/2020/01/29/pilot-in-kobe-bryant-helicopter-crash-wasnt-allowed-to-fly-by-instruments/#d68817626ea3

So, Forbes quotes him directly as saying “I don’t think...” and ESPN provides no direct quote but says “Deetz said Zobayan previously had told him that he did not have actual experience...”

I think your trust of ESPN is higher than mine...

Haven’t you seen enough irresponsible reporting on aviation not to knee-jerk accept what you find on the internet. I suggest that ESPN’s reporting is suspect.

But thanks for providing the link so I could check it out.
MarkStorm
Mark Storm -2
He flew up the canyon into cloud realized he had terrain on either side, thus the sudden climb straight up where he tried to do a 180 to get back over the valley. Unfortunately he didn't notice the attitude indicator showed him in a descending left bank or the altimeter unwinding.
RetiredCaptain
Jasper Buck 7
"Unfortunately he didn't notice the attitude indicator showed him in a descending left bank or the altimeter unwinding."

One wonders how you know that considering that the NTSB is still investigating the accident and there was no CVR or FDR on board.

Best

J Buck
FAA Aviation Safety Inspector (Ret.)
linbb
linbb 1
Oh you forgot the know because? Most have never flown an AC of any type or been in a corner when flying one. There are those pilots who have and those who might during there flying time. The speculating is always there. Only takeaway is that final turn and at the speed he was going would have been sharp. Things happen quick at that altitude and speed.
pheliks
John Graham 0
Well I’m wondering if the PIC ever told his superiors or his clients: No Sirs we are not flying in this type of weather this morning.

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