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Question about the Kobe Bryant Crash

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Question about the Kobe Bryant Crash

Old 30th Apr 2022, 19:39
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Question about the Kobe Bryant Crash

Ok, I know the basic facts - the pilot inadvertently flew into IMC conditions, experienced spatial disorientation, and flew into the ground.
Here's what I don't get:
The pilot was a highly experienced professional helicopter pilot with over 8,000 hours, but he wasn't instrument rated. Now, in the fixed wing world it would be very unusual a relatively high time professional pilot to lack an instrument rating.
Is this fundamentally different in the rotorcraft world? Why wouldn't the pilot be instrument rated? Are instrument rated helicopter pilots relatively rare?
TIA
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Old 30th Apr 2022, 20:02
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Originally Posted by tdracer View Post
Ok, The pilot was a highly experienced professional helicopter pilot with over 8,000 hours, but he wasn't instrument rated.
FYI: He was instrument rated but with less than a 100hrs of instrument time and most of that simulated. The key though was the Part 135 ops certificate was VFR only. While I can't speak for all corners of the industry, I've known many pilots complete their entire career without an instrument ticket mainly due to the type of ops or due to the aircraft flown as most single helicopters are VFR only.
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Old 30th Apr 2022, 23:30
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TD,

Use the search function here and you can find multiple Threads for the Bryant Crash....the longest running of them dealt with that aspect of the tragedy.

It was very much a Pilot error that caused it but the Pilot had a lot of help in doing it.

He was set up for failure as are Pilots in so many of these kinds of things.

Done right it could make for a great made for TV movie.
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Old 1st May 2022, 00:01
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1) Some people say that an Instrument Rating by itself is relatively useless without the practice to keep the holder current and proficient.

2) Most helicopters do not fly on IFR flight plans.

3) Most helicopter operators (even commercial operators) are not certified to perform IFR flights (e.g., Island Express).

4 Employers are loathe to allow pilots to regularly go out and "burn flight time" (or said another way, "waste flight time") while getting instrument current/proficient.

The blame for "the Kobe Bryant accident" can be laid squarely on Ara's shoulders. He evidently forgot that he was in a helicopter. When he got into worse and worse weather, he did not slow down. Just because he was in a big, sophisticated, twin-engine, IFR-capable helicopter, it was, in the end, no different from a 206. He *should* have slowed down, turned around, or made a precautionary landing. Those of us who've been in this business for a while have done all three of those things and lived to tell the tale. Ara did none of those things and made the rest of us look bad...oh, and killed Kobe Bryant in the process.
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Old 1st May 2022, 00:26
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California normally has outstandingly good weather, unless it doesn’t due to rain or fog

Ever heard the Mamas and the Papas song, “It never Rains in California”?

Especially Southern California, when you can probably count on nine or ten months or more in a row without a single drop of rain.

Fog, on the other hand, can creep in when the inland valleys cool off at night and pull in the moist ocean air over land that has cooled off in the evening due to the clear skies, then you can get a very dense fog that takes a while to burn off in the morning.

Not quite the same as the notorious Tule fog farther north in California, which I can tell you is utterly miserable to drive through, but something similar.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tule_fog
Tule fog is a radiation fog, which condenses when there is a high relative humidity (typically after a heavy rain), calm winds, and rapid cooling during the night. The nights are longer in the winter months, which allows an extended period of ground cooling, and thereby a pronounced temperature inversion at a low altitude.
Anyway, as mentioned on the aforementioned thread, the pilot expected a straight shot on his usual route, but was diverted due to the fog, then tried to fly under it along a roadway, then into it rather than land, and did not succeed in reaching his destination.
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Old 1st May 2022, 01:24
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Of what value is a fully instrumented, autopilot equipped twin engined helicopter if you do not use all of the attributes of the aircraft and do so on every flight.

That S-76 was fully capable of flying itself with commands from the Pilot.

Proper Airmanship by the Pilot would have prevented what happened.....but proper oversight by company management, the company's insurance company, the third party training company, and the FAA also should have prevented the accident from happening.

That the Pilot was the Chief Pilot of the Operation, yet violated Company SOP's, clearly shows the breakdown in the procedures and structures that showed on paper proper safety and training standards were in place.

As I have said earlier....the Pilot had lots of help in arriving in that smoking hole in the ground.
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Old 1st May 2022, 02:57
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Originally Posted by SASless View Post
Of what value is a fully instrumented, autopilot equipped twin engined helicopter if you do not use all of the attributes of the aircraft and do so on every flight.

That S-76 was fully capable of flying itself with commands from the Pilot.

Proper Airmanship by the Pilot would have prevented what happened.....but proper oversight by company management, the company's insurance company, the third party training company, and the FAA also should have prevented the accident from happening.

That the Pilot was the Chief Pilot of the Operation, yet violated Company SOP's, clearly shows the breakdown in the procedures and structures that showed on paper proper safety and training standards were in place.

As I have said earlier....the Pilot had lots of help in arriving in that smoking hole in the ground.
Interesting analysis. I do a lot of solo mountaineering stuff and always have a turn back time that I never violate, even if the summit is 250 feet above. It just isn't worth it. If there is lightning activity I just bail....... I would think pilots might have the same sort of personal constraints. Live to climb another day.
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Old 1st May 2022, 03:31
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Thanks all. I'm just a little surprised to find out that most helicopter pilots are not instrument rated/proficient - especially professional pilots.
So the rotorcraft world is fundamentally different.
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Old 1st May 2022, 04:34
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In UK and northern Europe another couple of factors are the icing level being too low to allow IMC for half the year for most -27 certified helis and the extreme cost of getting the IR. However almost all of our offshore operations are IFR (helis with icing clearance)
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Old 1st May 2022, 04:47
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Always remember the HAI safety advice;

Land and Live!
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Old 1st May 2022, 08:35
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Originally Posted by visibility3miles View Post

Ever heard the Mamas and the Papas song, “It never Rains in California”?
Nope. Albert Hammond, yes.
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Old 1st May 2022, 08:51
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Originally Posted by gipsymagpie View Post
In UK and northern Europe another couple of factors are the icing level being too low to allow IMC for half the year for most -27 certified helis and the extreme cost of getting the IR. However almost all of our offshore operations are IFR (helis with icing clearance)
There are a number of U.K. helicopter pilots who do hold IRs and regularly use them during onshore ops. It’s quite legal to fly VFR - IFR - VFR (or continue to an airfield under IFR) in U.K. without having to file a written flight plan. Some operators now even have approved “point in space” letdowns of their own.

But obviously, you need to plan for the worst case weather scenario because that’s the nature of the U.K. weather. The Bryant accident would never have happened if this had been done.
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Old 1st May 2022, 12:18
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Please do not try to apply UK Rules and Practices to US Rules and Practices......they are quite different from one another.

As an analogy....swap London Area for Los Angeles area and throw in some mountains and high ground to boot......then apply what you just said for flights in that kind of congested area.....using UK Rules.

I seem to recall an Agusta 109 cutting down a Crane Boom in downtown London in bad weather conditions somewhat similar to the Bryant Crash.

I started a Thread about two weeks ago raising the issue of Low Altitude IFR Routes for Helicopters.....and it drew scant comment or discussion.

That is symbolic of the interest shown by the FAA and the American Helicopter Industry.

The Island Express operation that was involved in the Bryant Crash could be the Poster Child for the standard on-shore Helicopter operation.

Helicopter EMS Operators are the leading edge in IFR Onshore Operations these days as they are scattered all through the Country while the Corporate Operators were usually in the Big City Northeast or Chicago area.

The Gulf of Mexico Offshore Operators also do a fair bit of IFR flying these days.

Had there been a Low Level IFR Route system in place in the LAX area....and Island Express had embraced IFR Operations....perhaps that tragedy might have been avoided.

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Old 1st May 2022, 13:14
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Originally Posted by SASless View Post
I seem to recall an Agusta 109 cutting down a Crane Boom in downtown London in bad weather conditions somewhat similar to the Bryant Crash.
Maybe more accurate to say that the crane boom cut down the 109 – which shouldn't have been there, of course – with tragic results.
Unsurprisingly, the crane was damaged by the collision and the outer part of the 'jib' (boom) fell into the street.
Aircraft Accident Report 3/2014 - Agusta A109E, G-CRST, 16 January 2013
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Old 1st May 2022, 13:52
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Old,

Quoting from the opening page of the linked Accident Report.....
The investigation identified the following contributory factor:
  1. The pilot continued with his intention to land at the London Heliport despite being unable to remain clear of cloud.
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    Old 1st May 2022, 15:51
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    Originally Posted by tdracer View Post
    Is this fundamentally different in the rotorcraft world? Why wouldn't the pilot be instrument rated? Are instrument rated helicopter pilots relatively rare? TIA
    In the US, yes, it is fundamentally different.
    "§ 61.133 Commercial pilot privileges and limitations.
    (b) Limitations.
    (1) A person who applies for a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane category or powered-lift category rating and does not hold an instrument rating in the same category and class will be issued a commercial pilot certificate that contains the limitation, “The carriage of passengers for hire in (airplanes) (powered-lifts) on cross-country flights in excess of 50 nautical miles or at night is prohibited.”
    In Theory, you don't have to have an helicopter instrument rating to be a US commercial pilot.
    IMO, the other detail would be the lack of single engine IFR approved helicopters. The AS350B3, EC130T2, Bell 407 are all Day Night VFR approved. I know, the newest 407 GXi can be IFR if the Bell STC is installed at Bell Piney Flats.
    Most single engine airplanes are Day Night VFR IFR from the factory, even without an Autopilot
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    Old 1st May 2022, 16:05
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    Originally Posted by SASless View Post
    Proper Airmanship by the Pilot would have prevented what happened.....but proper oversight by company management, the company's insurance company, the third party training company, and the FAA also should have prevented the accident from happening.
    Perhaps one of the dumbest things I've ever read on this forum. SASless obviously does not know how commercial Part 135 helicopter aviation works.

    1) Ara was the Chief Pilot - he WAS "the management" of which you speak.
    2) The company's insurance carrier does not provide "oversight" of flight operations.
    3) The company's third-party training company does not provide "oversight" of flight operations
    4) The FAA does not provide day-to-day "oversight" of flight operations. (No do we want them to.)

    Even if the D.O. had questions about the flight, we can be sure that Ara would have given him some B.S. about how, "...The weather is generally good, and if it gets bad I'll just turn around and land at Van Nuys." At that, the D.O. would have said, "Okay Ara, it's your call. You're the Chief Pilot, I trust you." Aaaaand off we go.

    Perhaps we might suggest that Island Express's insurance company require the company have IFR certification for all of their operations and pilots? That would be highly unusual. Wouldn't it be interesting if insurance companies required that of *every* Part 135 operator!

    Maybe Island Express's third-party training company should have had more comprehensive training for inadvertent-IFR encounters? Who says they didn't? They probably trained Ara to the current industry standard. Such things were part of every Part-135 Recurrent checkride I've ever taken. Put the hood on, then put you head down and close your eyes. The IP will do some maneuvering and then put the ship into an unusual attitude. He'll then say, "Okay, open your eyes and recover." (Some were more, um, "enthusiastic" about this than others.) Fun times!

    What SASless is suggesting is that our whole helicopter industry here in the U.S. is defective because we give so much responsibility and authority to just one guy...you know, the PILOT IN COMMAND? And when that Pilot In Command makes a dumb, fatal decision based on his stupidity, then it's not just *his* fault - oh no! It's his AND the entire industry's fault for existing as it does in the first place.

    Uhhhh, uh-huh. If SAS wasn't as old as he is (and apparently pushing senility), I'd swear his post was written by some young, "not-my-fault!" millennial.
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    Old 1st May 2022, 16:06
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    Originally Posted by SASless View Post
    Please do not try to apply UK Rules and Practices to US Rules and Practices......they are quite different from one another.
    I didn’t!

    Read my post again; I was responding to the post that I quoted.
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    Old 1st May 2022, 17:55
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    When in doubt of the safe, successful completion of the flight there is no doubt- chicken out.

    Or- It's better to be on the ground wishing you were flying than it is to be flying wishing you were on the ground.

    Never, ever continue a flight you don't have a safe, attainable landing from at any point. That's a more or less logical extension from my 1969 warrant officer training in which the instructor would chop the throttle and declare 'engine failure'! A pink slip, the result of a failed instructional flight.;


    Edit: "Tactical ticket" out of Army flight school. Good enough for the next two decades. At that point I wanted a 'beach' job with PHI, so I got my ATP, which included an instrument test.
    At that time most IFR was to get out of, and into on-shore bases, legally.
    Many IFR ships just didn't bother, 300 feet and 2 miles is pretty VFR crappy but was permitted twins and IFR ships, crews. Did that for about 10 years before I 'up-graded'

    Last edited by Devil 49; 2nd May 2022 at 20:23.
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    Old 1st May 2022, 18:54
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    Originally Posted by FH1100 Pilot View Post
    Perhaps one of the dumbest things I've ever read on this forum. SASless obviously does not know how commercial Part 135 helicopter aviation works.

    1) Ara was the Chief Pilot - he WAS "the management" of which you speak.
    2) The company's insurance carrier does not provide "oversight" of flight operations.
    3) The company's third-party training company does not provide "oversight" of flight operations
    4) The FAA does not provide day-to-day "oversight" of flight operations. (No do we want them to.)

    Even if the D.O. had questions about the flight, we can be sure that Ara would have given him some B.S. about how, "...The weather is generally good, and if it gets bad I'll just turn around and land at Van Nuys." At that, the D.O. would have said, "Okay Ara, it's your call. You're the Chief Pilot, I trust you." Aaaaand off we go.

    Perhaps we might suggest that Island Express's insurance company require the company have IFR certification for all of their operations and pilots? That would be highly unusual. Wouldn't it be interesting if insurance companies required that of *every* Part 135 operator!

    Maybe Island Express's third-party training company should have had more comprehensive training for inadvertent-IFR encounters? Who says they didn't? They probably trained Ara to the current industry standard. Such things were part of every Part-135 Recurrent checkride I've ever taken. Put the hood on, then put you head down and close your eyes. The IP will do some maneuvering and then put the ship into an unusual attitude. He'll then say, "Okay, open your eyes and recover." (Some were more, um, "enthusiastic" about this than others.) Fun times!

    What SASless is suggesting is that our whole helicopter industry here in the U.S. is defective because we give so much responsibility and authority to just one guy...you know, the PILOT IN COMMAND? And when that Pilot In Command makes a dumb, fatal decision based on his stupidity, then it's not just *his* fault - oh no! It's his AND the entire industry's fault for existing as it does in the first place.

    Uhhhh, uh-huh. If SAS wasn't as old as he is (and apparently pushing senility), I'd swear his post was written by some young, "not-my-fault!" millennial.
    Now aside from the personal attack which borders upon slander which we know can be a mortal Sin hereabouts....there are some other aspects of you post that are factually wrong.

    The Pilot involved was the Chief Pilot....a member of Management but only one link in that chain of command.

    The Island Express SOP required the DO to be consulted during the Risk Analysis Protocol....but. he was not.

    Insurance Providers can and often do write minimum standards into their policies and oft times cancel policies if those standards are not met.

    The Third Party Training company does not monitor flight operations....but they do pass upon the fitness of the Trainee upon completion of their training of the Pilot to include Check Rides and the performance level of the Pilot.

    By doing so they are "certifying" the Pilot has or has not met their Training Standards and Syllabus as documented in writing during the performance of that training.

    The FAA uses FAA Inspectors to monitor the Operators compliance with the FAR's to include Part 61,91, and 135 as well as the 135 OpSpecs among other criterion.

    I would suggest you stick to speaking for yourself and leave off trying to put words in my mouth....as you do a very poor job of both.

    The Pilot-In-Command is the last link in a chain that is supposed to act to prevent such tragedies....and as we know....any chain is only as strong as the weakest link.

    Which link do you wish to identify as the Link that had the most effect in failing to prevent this accident?

    Was it the Pilot all by his lonesome or did some of that safety program, management enforcement of its written policies, the trainers who did not ferret out a weakness in the Pilot's use of the installed avionics and systems?

    As the Pilot paid for his Sins we should be fair to him and question how it was he felt able to do what he did only to discover far too late that he was not adequately trained, experienced, or capable of coping with the situation he found himself in that day.

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