The National Transportation Safety Board announced Tuesday the final results of their investigation into the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others on January 26, 2020.
The crash was likely caused by the pilot’s “spatial disorientation,” NTSB officials said.
The NTSB had said previously that there were no signs of mechanical failure.
Island Express Helicopters has denied responsibility for the crash and said it was “an act of God.”
Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s widow has blamed the pilot, Ara Zobayan. She filed a wrongful death suit against the helicopter company a month after the crash.
Island Express, in turn, sued two air traffic controllers they claim were responsible for the crash.
Island Express alleges the pilot asked the air traffic controllers for guidance due to heavy fog, but the controllers denied the pilot use of what could have been life-saving radar, according to TMZ. Even though radar guidance had not yet been lost
Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said that Zobayan, a pilot with a decade of experience, was flying under visual flight rules, which meant that he needed to be able to see where he was going.
Zobayan piloted the aircraft to climb sharply and had nearly broken through the clouds when the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter banked abruptly and plunged into the Southern California hills below, killing all aboard.
The helicopter did not have the so-called “black box” recording devices, which were not required.
“I think the whole world is watching because it’s Kobe,” said Ed Coleman, an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University professor and aircraft safety science expert.
In addition to Kobe and his daughter, Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and their daughter Alyssa; Christina Mauser, who helped Bryant coach his daughter’s basketball team; and Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton were all killed in the helicopter crash in Calabasas.
Associated Press contributed to this story.