The helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people that crashed into the mountainside in Calabasas, Calif. on Sunday did not have the necessary federal certification to fly, according The New York Times.
While the flight’s pilot, Ara Zoboyan, was certified to fly using instruments, Island Express Helicopters, which owned the Sikorsky S-76B that crashed, did not have the necessary certification, according to The Times. Because of the company’s certification limitations, Zoboyan was required to fly only in conditions of “sufficient visibility” to navigate visually.
According to CNN, Island Express Helicopters is “suspending all flight service for operation reasons,” but declined to provide any other details regarding the suspension.
“All services (regular and charter) were immediately suspended following the tragic accident on Sunday, January 26,” the company said in a statement to CNN Thursday. “The shock of the accident affected all staff, and management decided that service would be suspended until such time as it was deemed appropriate for staff and customers.”
Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the crash and whether Zoboyan should have been granted special permission to fly in foggy conditions on Sunday.
The Long Beach Press-Telegram’s Emily Rasmussen cites National Transportation Safety Board records, which showed that the Long Beach-based company that operated the helicopter has had three other accidents dating back to 1985.
The Times notes that details about the company’s certification leads to questions about why the pilot did not file an instrument flight plan that would have allowed him to climb above the fog-shrouded hills.
Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his daughter Alyssa and wife Keri were also killed, along with Sarah and Payton Chester, assistant coach Christina Mauser Zobayan, Bryant and Gianna.
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