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Letters to the Editor: Don’t speculate about what could have stopped Kobe Bryant’s helicopter from crashing

Kobe Bryant helicopter crash
A federal accident investigator examines the wreckage of a helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others near Calabasas.
(Associated Press)

To the editor: If one is backing up a car in a parking lot at a safe, controlled and normal speed, and the backup camera senses an object, there is plenty of time to press the brakes and stop. If one is in a hurry and accelerates too quickly, by the time the beeper goes off indicating that there is a car or pedestrian behind you, it will be too late to hit the brakes and stop safely. (“Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash should have us all thinking about the safety of our airspace,” editorial, Feb. 12)

This example can apply to the very unfortunate and tragic helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others.

It is far too early and unfair to make any absolute statements, but the evidence presented so far indicates that the helicopter impacted the terrain at a very high, unsafe airspeed and extreme rate of descent. Having a terrain warning device in the helicopter for this flight likely would not have helped avoid the crash.

That said, and even though most helicopter operations are quite different from airplane flights, this terrain warning device gives important information that almost always enhances the margin of safety in all flights.

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John Buch, Hermosa Beach

The writer is an aviation consultant and a retired airline pilot.

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To the editor: Your editorial advocates equipping helicopters with terrain avoidance software, but that would almost certainly not have prevented this accident. Adding another beeping warning when a pilot is already distracted can make disorientation worse.

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We won’t know for at least a year what caused this accident, and perhaps we will never know. In the meantime, engaging in speculation and urging the Federal Aviation Administration to require more expensive equipment that is mostly useless is certainly premature.

By their very nature, helicopters are more difficult to fly than fixed-wing airplanes. Let’s wait for the accident report results and recognize that the rare helicopter crash or two is far less of a problem than the multiple automobile accidents that occur every day on our overcrowded roads.

Carol Mathews, Santa Monica


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