Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Brad Sherman (both D-Calif.) today introduced the Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act, a bill to require terrain awareness and warning systems on all helicopters that carry six or more passengers. Despite a 2006 National Transportation Safety Board recommendation that this equipment be mandatory on all helicopters, FAA currently only requires air ambulances to carry it.
The bill was introduced ahead of the one year anniversary of a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. that killed nine passengers including Kobe and Gianna Bryant.
“Mandatory terrain awareness equipment on all helicopters has been recommended by the NTSB for 15 years, but the FAA has failed to require it on any helicopter save air ambulances,” Senator Feinstein said. “It’s clear the simple addition of this equipment will help keep passengers safe and prevent crashes due to poor visibility. Last January we saw just how deadly flying in low visibility without this equipment can be when a helicopter carrying nine individuals, including basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter, crashed. The accident may very well have been avoided if terrain awareness equipment were mandatory as this bill will ensure it is.”
“In 2004, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended to the FAA that all helicopters be equipped with a Terrain Awareness and Warning System. Unfortunately, the FAA refused to follow this recommendation to require the safety system” said Congressman Sherman. “The Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act will finally direct the FAA to require these safety features for passenger helicopters in order to avoid tragedies like the one that claimed the life of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others.”
- On January 26, 2020 a helicopter carrying nine passengers crashed in Calabasas, California killing everyone aboard. A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that the helicopter was flying in foggy weather and was not equipped with terrain awareness technology.
- Since 2006, the NTSB has recommended that all helicopters be equipped with terrain awareness technology, but so far the FAA has only applied this requirement to air ambulances. The bill would direct the FAA to require terrain awareness technology on all helicopters carrying six or more passengers.
- Last year, Feinstein asked the FAA to expand current regulations on terrain awareness equipment to include all helicopters with six or more passengers. FAA is still evaluating the NTSB recommendation, 15 years after it was initially made.