Helicopter safety bill reintroduced in Congress on eve of Kobe Bryant crash anniversary

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A man writes a message on a mural honoring Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna in Los Angeles in February 2020. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

A man writes a message on a mural honoring Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna in Los Angeles in February 2020. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

On the eve of the anniversary of the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others, California’s senior senator and a local congressman announced Monday they will try again to improve chopper safety through legislation.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Northridge) reintroduced the Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act, a bill that would require terrain awareness and warning systems on all helicopters that carry six or more passengers. Despite a 2006 National Transportation Safety Board recommendation that such equipment be mandatory on all helicopters, the Federal Aviation Administration, which sets flight rules, only requires it on helicopter air ambulances.

Despite a personal plea from Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s widow and Gianna’s mother, lawmakers did not pass the legislation last year. 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.

In the wake of the Jan. 26, 2020, crash, NTSB board member Jennifer Homendy said that a terrain awareness system, or TAWS, would have provided more information to the pilot, Ara Zobayan, but she did not say it could have prevented the deadly crash.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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