WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- The case Vanessa Bryant filed against Island Express Helicopters claims that the company allowed the helicopter to take flight despite visibility condition is unsafe.
- The pilot has the necessary certification to fly using instrument flight rules, but the aircraft company doesn’t have.
- That morning of January 26, LAPD has grounded all helicopter flights because of fog density.
Vanessa, the widow of the late NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, on Monday, filed legal action against the California based firm that owned the aircraft that crashed in January, which claimed the life of her husband, teen daughter, Gianna, and seven others aboard the helicopter.
The wrongful death case was filed just before the public memorial service for the NBA icon, 13-year-old daughter, and other people who perished on the crash. The event, called by Vanessa as “Celebration of Life,” will be hosted at the Los Angeles Staples Center Arena, where thousands of fans are expected to attend.
According to the 72-page case filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Island Express Helicopters has allegedly allowed the helicopter to fly despite the unsafe conditions that day.
One of the citations in the lawsuit was that the aircraft company’s and the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter pilot, Ara George Zobayan’s duty to “use that degree of care that an ordinarily careful and prudent pilot would use under the same or similar circumstances.”
The suit also stated that the instrument-rated pilot Zobayan has failed to evaluate the weather data before deciding to take-off that day, January 26.
It was recalled that the Los Angeles Police Department had grounded all helicopter flights that morning until the afternoon of January 26 because the fog density causes almost zero visibility for some aircraft.
This caused the Sikorsky S-76B to crash into a hillside in Calabasas, California.
LAPD spokesman Joshua Rubenstein said, at a press conference that day that the department’s two requirements needed to lift the cancellation of flights are not met; 2 miles of visibility and an 800-foot cloud ceiling.
Kobe’s widow claimed that Ara did not abort the flight despite the circumstances surrounding the cloud. The suit also alleged that Zobayan went outside of standard flight protocols when he decided to fly the helicopter even if he cannot navigate due to lack of visibility, making him utilize the instrument flight rules (IFR). Moreover, the pilot wasn’t able to avoid the risks, and maintain a safe distance between the helicopter and dangers in their path.
Earlier reports by NBC showed that Zobayan is equipped with the appropriate federal certification to navigate by IFR; however, Island Express Helicopters does not have such, and technically, the restriction to be applied would have that of the company’s.
Vannesa, on her lawsuit, is seeking undetermined compensation and penal damages. Her camp was not available for comments on Monday.
Island Express Helicopters’ representative called the accident as heart-breaking and said the company is not to remark while litigation is underway.
In charge of the investigation of the crash is The National Transportation Safety Board.
Source: NBC News