The helicopter crash that killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people on a foggy morning a year ago on a hillside in Calabasas placed a new and urgent focus on what many had long considered significant flaws in federal aviation regulation.
Such large turbine helicopters are not required to have a terrain awareness warning system, known as TAWS, to alert a pilot if they are about to fly into rising topography. Nor must they have flight data or cockpit voice recorders.
There were immediate calls to close the loopholes and require those systems. Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, advocated for the changes. In its immediate comment after the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board said a terrain warning system on the helicopter could have helped the pilot.
But as the public focus shifted away, the reform effort stalled. Opposition from the aviation industry, combined with a Congress overwhelmed with the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues, pushed helicopter safety to the back burner.
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