Helicopter company suspends operations following Kobe Bryant crash
Island Express, the company noted as the owner in the helicopter crash that eliminated Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and 7 others said it is canceling all flights until additional notice.
The California company had regularly provided personal helicopter flights for Bryant, and others, in addition to sightseeing flights for travelers.
” All services (regular and charter) were immediately suspended following the tragic accident on Sunday, January 26,” the company stated in a statement on Thursday. “The shock of the mishap impacted all personnel, and management chose that service would be suspended until such time as it was deemed appropriate for personnel and customers.”.
Bryant had chartered the flight on Sunday early morning to fly to Mamba Sports Academy for a women basketball tournament including his daughter’s group. Two other kids, Payton Chester and Alyssa Altobelli, as well as a coach, Christina Mauser, were on the flight. Chester’s mom, Sarah, and Altobelli’s mother and dad, Keri and John, were also killed in the accident.
Pilot Ara Zobayan, who had actually worked for the company for over 10 years, was the ninth victim.
Island Express said in a declaration on Monday that it owned the Sikorsky S76 helicopter and assured to cooperate with the National Transportation Security Board in examining the accident.
” One of our helicopters, N72 EX, Sikorsky S76, was associated with an accident on Sunday, January 26 th in the Calabasas location of LA County,” the business stated in a declaration. “We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Our top priority is providing assistance to the households of the guests and the pilot. We hope that you will appreciate their privacy at this very tough time.”.
” We are working closely with the National Transportation Security Board (NTSB) to investigate the reason for the mishap and we are grateful to the very first responders and regional authorities for their response to this inconceivable accident,” it included.
The helicopter removed from John Wayne Airport and was headed toward Thousand Oaks.
NTSB member Jennifer Homendy said Tuesday the helicopter was not geared up with a Terrain Awareness Caution System, or TAWS, which might have signaled the pilot that he was flying too near to the mountain. The NTSB suggested to the Federal Aviation Administration following a 2004 crash that all helicopters must be equipped with the system, however it was not carried out.
It’s unclear whether the system would’ve avoided the mishap, which happened in heavy adequate fog that the L.A. Constable’s Department said it kept its choppers grounded.
The NTSB investigation continues, with an initial report expected next week.
ABC News’ Matthew Vann and Sabina Ghebremedhin contributed to this report.