Maintenance documents indicate the helicopter that crashed in Calabasas, California last week, killing nine people including basketball star Kobe Bryant and his daughter, was once equipped with a cockpit voice recorder, which might have shed light on the flight’s final moments, but Island Express, the company that bought the helicopter from the State of Illinois, appears to have removed that device shortly after they took ownership.
Airworthiness documents obtained by NBC 5 indicate a cockpit voice recorder was removed from the helicopter in March of 2016, shortly after the aircraft was purchased from the State of Illinois. There is no record in the documents that it was ever replaced.
Photos: Cockpit Voice Recorder Was Removed From Kobe Bryant’s Helicopter, Documents Show
Shortly after the crash, investigators indicated the helicopter was equipped with neither a “black box” data recorder, nor a cockpit voice recorder, which is a requirement on airliners and records all cockpit conversations.
“There wasn’t a black box,” NTSB member Jennifer Homendy told reporters during a media briefing on Jan. 27. “And there isn’t a requirement to have a black box on this, so there was no CVR (cockpit voice recorder), no FDR (flight data recorder).”
The NTSB has called for aircraft such as these to be CVR and FDR equipped, but those recommendations have not been implemented by the FAA.
“One of those recommendations on the helicopter having a CVR and an FDR, that would have helped us significantly in this investigation,” she said. “And it’s something we’ve recommended several times over a number of years.”
Homendy noted investigators did recover an iPad which the pilot apparently used for flight planning and weather briefings.
“The pilot uses that in flight,” she said. “We will be looking at other avionics on the aircraft to see what information we can gather, and then we’re going to be looking for other electronics.”
A cell phone was also recovered, and both devices were sent to the NTSB laboratory in Washington for analysis.
Fans Mourn NBA Great Kobe Bryant’s Death
Homendy expressed confidence her investigators would determine why the tragedy occurred.
“We do this all the time,” Homendy said. “I’m very confident we will determine the cause of the accident.”
A call to Island Express Helicopters went to voicemail. The Island Express website carries a statement asking that all inquiries be referred to the NTSB.