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N72EX (Kobe Bryant) Crash Reconstruction with new ATC Audio

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N72EX (Kobe Bryant) Crash Reconstruction with new ATC Audio

Old 29th May 2020, 00:05
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N72EX (Kobe Bryant) Crash Reconstruction with new ATC Audio

Hi. This is my first post to PPRuNe. I created an amateur reconstruction of the crash of N72EX and it includes new (previously unheard) ATC audio that I obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request to the FAA. I am not a pilot, and I am hoping that some experienced pilots can take a look and give me feedback. Because I am a new member I do not have privileges to embed URLs yet, so if someone could repost with a live link I would really appreciate it. "https ://youtu.be/M_Dpm144KXo" . I am aware of two audio transcription typos where I misspelled VFR.


Last edited by Senior Pilot; 29th May 2020 at 03:58. Reason: Add YouTube
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Old 29th May 2020, 05:27
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Thatís a pretty good effort on your part stringing what you could together.
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Old 29th May 2020, 06:38
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Yes, very good job, perhaps you should be working for the FAA

It certainly seems to confirm that disorientation was a key factor - if he entered cloud in a turn, that is likely to produce the leans very quickly and the uncorrected left bank (apart from one brief attempt at wings level) is a good indicator of that. I have seen a number of students enter IMC like that and perform a similar manoeuvre - a turn with the climb dropping off eventually turning into a descent with them getting more and more confused by the indications because they are not focused on the AI.

Just one small point - the graphics say VRF while the audio correctly says VFR.
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Old 29th May 2020, 10:35
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Another minor point: I've never heard any aviation professional pronounce ADS-B as "addsbee". It is always spelled out: "A D S B".
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Old 29th May 2020, 12:17
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Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Yes, very good job, perhaps you should be working for the FAA

It certainly seems to confirm that disorientation was a key factor - if he entered cloud in a turn, that is likely to produce the leans very quickly and the uncorrected left bank (apart from one brief attempt at wings level) is a good indicator of that. I have seen a number of students enter IMC like that and perform a similar manoeuvre - a turn with the climb dropping off eventually turning into a descent with them getting more and more confused by the indications because they are not focused on the AI.

Just one small point - the graphics say VRF while the audio correctly says VFR.
Thanks for you comment. BTW, I mentioned the VFR typos in the original post
Originally Posted by airplanecrazy View Post
I am aware of two audio transcription typos where I misspelled VFR.
I wish YouTube would let me fix it, but I decided to let it go once someone first pointed it out because I didn't want a "new" video with just that fix to show up in my subscriber feeds. I still wonder if I made the right decision
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Old 29th May 2020, 12:19
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Originally Posted by aa777888 View Post
Another minor point: I've never heard any aviation professional pronounce ADS-B as "addsbee". It is always spelled out: "A D S B".
I have been saying "addsbee" so long in my brain it never occurred to me that I was mispronouncing it. Thanks for pointing that out!
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Old 29th May 2020, 19:00
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Fantastic job airplanecrazy. The last two transmissions from 2EX I hadn't heard before, quite chilling.

I wonder if he had issues engaging the autopilot, any S-76 guys care to comment on how easy it is to engage PIT/ROL mode on the fly? It's almost as though he engaged the AP (or at least thought he did) and then got distracted in the cockpit by a dropped iPad, passenger interruption etc. I just can't fathom that an ATPL certificated pilot, albeit not current, sitting in an IFR certified helicopter, could not conduct a simple climb on instruments, in my opinion there had to be an external influence.
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Old 29th May 2020, 19:26
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Originally Posted by Sir HC View Post
Fantastic job airplanecrazy. The last two transmissions from 2EX I hadn't heard before, quite chilling.

I wonder if he had issues engaging the autopilot, any S-76 guys care to comment on how easy it is to engage PIT/ROL mode on the fly? It's almost as though he engaged the AP (or at least thought he did) and then got distracted in the cockpit by a dropped iPad, passenger interruption etc. I just can't fathom that an ATPL certificated pilot, albeit not current, sitting in an IFR certified helicopter, could not conduct a simple climb on instruments, in my opinion there had to be an external influence.
Thanks for the kind words. For anyone answering Sir HC's first question, I believe that the helicopter had an SPZ-7000 Flight Control System installed (at least it did when sold by the State of Illinois, and I find no record of it being removed in the Airworthiness documentation.).
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Old 29th May 2020, 19:32
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Originally Posted by Sir HC View Post
I just can't fathom that an ATPL certificated pilot, albeit not current, sitting in an IFR certified helicopter, could not conduct a simple climb on instruments, in my opinion there had to be an external influence.
I think you underestimate the potential for over-saturation when things suddenly go all white outside if you haven't been in those conditions and practiced IMC flying very recently. It's certainly a perishable skill. Here's a good example of an EC135 IFR-rated pilot who wanted to practice an ILS approach to keep proficiency (responsible decision in my opinion), however, unfortunately he was sans instructor and very quickly became over-saturated and lost it while on the way in.
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Old 29th May 2020, 19:53
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Originally Posted by ApolloHeli View Post
I think you underestimate the potential for over-saturation when things suddenly go all white outside if you haven't been in those conditions and practiced IMC flying very recently. It's certainly a perishable skill. Here's a good example of an EC135 IFR-rated pilot who wanted to practice an ILS approach to keep proficiency (responsible decision in my opinion), however, unfortunately he was sans instructor and very quickly became over-saturated and lost it while on the way in.
Yes, that report is classic saturation trying to deal with real IMC as a single pilot.

What can make it worse is engaging an autopilot that has its own limitations and tends to meander about whatever datum was set - this is especially true of 3 axis APs that have to use cyclic pitch to do things like hold ALT or VSI - they are slow, lagged to reduce control inputs and don't deal with turbulence well.

Unless you have experienced it to the point you were scared, it is difficult to explain how powerful the spatial disorientation illusions can be, convincing you that you are in a turn to the right (for example) when you are actually close to wings level and causing you to push left bank because it 'feels right'.

Constant practice in actual IMC conditions is the only way to prepare you for IIMC - or perhaps try teaching students to fly IMC, that sorts you out when they screw it up
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Old 30th May 2020, 01:03
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Please forgive my naÔve question (as a non-pilot). Should the pilot have declared an emergency to ATC when he decided to "climb above the layers" at 17:44:34? I can't imagine that it would have significantly changed the outcome, but I am curious. Thanks.
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Old 30th May 2020, 01:12
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I sure appreciate task saturation, having done my fair share of both two crew and SPIFR. The NTSB report you referenced looks like he forgot to activate the approach and follow the glide slope and then failed to properly sequence to GA mode when he realized that he was full scale deflection.

In my opinion, the two accidents are vastly different, with the Delaware one, the pilot having to fulfill a clearance, a busy cockpit with a FD not giving useful information, reading back clearances etc etc.

Kobe's accident, all the guy had to do was pull pitch and climb, no airspace to contend with, no clearance to get/maintain, no icing to deal with, he didn't even need to talk to SoCal. I think the decision to continue IMC in a VFR only helicopter would be weighing on him, but he sounded pretty calm on that radio call. As I first said, I just find it unfathomable that an ATPL with even the bare instrument rating couldn't maintain a heading and airspeed, I believe there had to be something else that added to his workload.
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Old 30th May 2020, 03:42
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Originally Posted by airplanecrazy View Post
..Should the pilot have declared an emergency to ATC when he decided to "climb above the layers" at 17:44:34?..
At the very least he should have told ATC he was no longer VMC and was climbing to regain visual reference.
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Old 30th May 2020, 03:48
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Originally Posted by Sir HC View Post
... just find it unfathomable that an ATPL with even the bare instrument rating couldn't maintain a heading and airspeed, I believe there had to be something else that added to his workload.
Nope. Despite holding an ATPL and being a CFII, ending up in cloud for the first time, of itself, could easily have been enough for the whole show to turn to worms.
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Old 30th May 2020, 03:57
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Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
...What can make it worse is engaging an autopilot that has its own limitations and tends to meander about whatever datum was set - this is especially true of 3 axis APs that have to use cyclic pitch to do things like hold ALT or VSI - they are slow, lagged to reduce control inputs and don't deal with turbulence well...
I'm not familiar with the SPZ-7000 installation in the S76, but in any event the pilot didn't need to engage any pitch mode to save the day. All it needed was to center the heading bug, push the HDG button on George, increase power and confirm climbing. Single cue mode, that's all. It takes five seconds to do that. George takes care of keeping the wings level, your left hand controls the rate of climb, your eyes confirm climbing wings level, and you tell ATC what happened.
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Old 30th May 2020, 04:53
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Originally Posted by gulliBell View Post
I'm not familiar with the SPZ-7000 installation in the S76, but in any event the pilot didn't need to engage any pitch mode to save the day. All it needed was to center the heading bug, push the HDG button on George, increase power and confirm climbing. Single cue mode, that's all. It takes five seconds to do that. George takes care of keeping the wings level, your left hand controls the rate of climb, your eyes confirm climbing wings level, and you tell ATC what happened.
The safest thing to do if committing to the climb in that type is to press the GA button and then figure out the next few steps (in this case recognizing that he needed ATCs help). If selecting one mode in a S76B, I’d made it IAS then add power. Pressing HDG and adding power will give an initial climb, but the PBA will quietly convert that to airspeed while you are not looking. Best fly 3 cue IMC and at night if you want to avoid nasty surprises.
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Old 30th May 2020, 05:17
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Originally Posted by Torquetalk View Post
The safest thing to do if committing to the climb in that type is to press the GA button and then figure out the next few steps (in this case recognizing that he needed ATCs help). If selecting one mode in a S76B, Iíd made it IAS then add power. Pressing HDG and adding power will give an initial climb, but the PBA will quietly convert that to airspeed while you are not looking. Best fly 3 cue IMC and at night if you want to avoid nasty surprises.
I have the pilot's manual for the SPZ-7000 and I see this "The go-around mode may be engaged by pressing the button on the mode selector or by depressing the go-around switch on the collective. When engaged, this mode will cancel all other modes that are engaged. Upon engagement the collective will be commanded to obtain 75 knots or more while the roll axis will return the aircraft to a level roll attitude and will maintain the current aircraft magnetic heading. The pitch axis will be commanded to a positive rate-of-climb of 750 fpm " Does pressing the GA button activate the autopilot if the autopilot is currently off, or would the autopilot also have to be turned on to actually command the aircraft?
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Old 30th May 2020, 06:05
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The problem comes if you are not used to using the AP upper modes and if you spend all your time VFR without needing them. What might take an experienced user 2 button presses to achieve a predictable outcome (ie wings level climb) can take far longer and if you press the wrong button or have the HDG bug in the wrong place you can easily end up disorientated.
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Old 30th May 2020, 06:12
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Originally Posted by Torquetalk View Post
The safest thing to do ....
I don't entirely agree. In an aircraft that hasn't been maintained to the IFR standards, probably for years, there is too much stuff that needs to be working properly for 3-cue to work as advertised. And if it doesn't work as advertised you end up with utter confusion. Trust me on that. The safest thing to do, and this is what we teach in the simulator, is to boil it down to the minimum which is HDG hold (single cue), increase power manually, check wings level and climbing, and then adjust pitch trim to get 70 knots-ish. If a pilot who is already confused about his situation is then loaded up with deciphering what 3-cue is or isn't doing it 'aint gonna be pretty. But in the off-chance everything does work, then yeah, pushing the GA button should save the day. But I wouldn't trust it in a critical situation in an aircraft only maintained to VFR.

And having refreshed my memory, this is what GA mode does in the SPZ-7000 ...



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Old 30th May 2020, 10:45
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Gullibell - I presume there is a minimum speed for engagement?
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