A federal safety agency’s preliminary report on the helicopter crash that killed basketball icon Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven other people is due for release this week as the nation and the world on Sunday marked one week since the tragedy.
“The typical timeframe is about 10 business days for the preliminary to be posted to the NTSB website,” the National Transportation Safety Board said in a statement.
NTSB investigator Jennifer Homendy stressed that the report will include “facts only” and won’t make a determination into the cause of the crash. That may not be released until the final report, which could be up to 18 months away, she said.
Still, the agency could issue safety recommendations prior to the final report. Among them could be requiring terrain warning systems – TAWS – and audio and data recording “blackboxes.” The FAA rejected similar recommendations years ago but could take another look now.
Funeral details expected soon
Bryant’s family and city officials in Los Angeles are still working out details for the funeral and memorial services. “We don’t have that date finalized, but we’ve been talking every day to the Lakers, and most importantly, to (Bryant’s widow, Vanessa) as well,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said last week. A public memorial could be held at the Staples Center, the Lakers basketball home, or at a football stadium to accommodate what could be a massive crowd of mourners.
High school, Lakers say goodbye
Lower Merion High School outside Philadelphia, where Bryant was a standout ballplayer, said goodbye with a pre-game ceremony Saturday night in the gym that bears his name. About two dozen former Lower Merion players formed a circle around nine empty chairs. They stood with a sellout crowd through a 33-second moment of silence and a roaring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
The Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant’s sole team throughout his 20-year NBA career, held emotional ceremonies remembering their star before a game Friday night.
Copter company not licensed for instrument flight
Island Express Helicopters was not licensed to fly by instruments in poor visibility, although the pilot was. Island Express suspended service last week. “The shock of the accident affected all staff, and management decided that service would be suspended until such time as it was deemed appropriate for staff and customers,” the company said in a statement.
Crash could result in safer helicopters
The NTSB said the helicopter was not equipped with a terrain awareness and warning system, or TAWS, the agency had recommended for large passenger-carrying choppers following a deadly crash in Texas 15 years ago. The Federal Aviation Administration had declined to make TAWS mandatory. Last week, U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., said TAWS will be a key feature of his Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act that he will introduce.
Contributing: Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY; Brandon Holveck, Delaware News Journal