In the wake of the helicopter crash that killed nine people including Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, a Los Angeles congressman is calling on the Federal Aviation Administration to beef up chopper safety regulations by requiring a terrain alarm system.
Bryant’s helicopter was not required to have the system because the FAA rejected a proposal by the National Transportation Safety Board to make the alarms mandatory.
NTSB investigator Jennifer Homendy said Tuesday her agency had recommended 16 years ago that the FAA require all choppers carrying six or more passengers to be equipped with a terrain awareness and warning system, adding that the FAA has “failed to act” on the proposal.
Shortly after her Tuesday news conference, an FAA spokesman disputed that assessment, noting that the FAA requires the terrain alarm systems for helicopter air ambulance operations.
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Northridge) on Thursday introduced the Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act. In a statement, Sherman said such equipment would prevent such tragedies and cost between $25,000 to $40,000.
His bill calls for helicopters to be “equipped with a Terrain Awareness and Warning System. The legislation will also establish a commission on helicopter safety and require a report to Congress on best practices for helicopters in cases of low visibility,” according to a statement.
The helicopter — a Sikorsky S-76B chopper built in 1991 — departed John Wayne Airport in Orange County at 9:06 a.m. Sunday, according to publicly available flight records. The aircraft passed over Boyle Heights, near Dodger Stadium, and circled over Glendale during the flight. Amid foggy conditions, it crashed into a hill in Calabasas.
Accompanying the Bryants were John Altobelli, 56, longtime baseball coach at Orange Coast College; his wife, Keri, 46; their daughter Alyssa, 13; Christina Mauser, 38, an assistant basketball coach at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy; Sarah Chester, 45; Chester’s daughter Payton, 13; and the pilot, 50-year-old Ara Zobayan.