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NTSB: Pilot Of Helicopter In Kobe Bryant Crash May Have Been Disoriented, Was Laker Legend's 'Preferred Pilot'

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) ) - The pilot of the helicopter in the fatal crash that killed Kobe Bryant and seven other passengers reported he was climbing when he actually was descending, federal investigators said in documents released Wednesday.

Ara Zobayan radioed to air traffic controllers that he was climbing to 4,000 feet (1,220 meters) to get above clouds on Jan. 26 when, in fact, the helicopter was plunging toward a hillside where it crashed in Calabasas Jan 26.

The report by the National Transportation Safety Board said Zobayan may have "misperceived" the angles at which he was descending and banking, which can happen when a pilot becomes disoriented in low visibility.

Containing roughly 1,700 pages of interview transcripts, photographs and reports on operations, survival factors, human
performance, air traffic control, and aircraft performance, the docket does not offer any conclusions about the cause of
the crash.

``As such, no conclusions about how or why the crash occurred should be drawn from the information within the docket,'' according to the NTSB. ``Analysis, findings, recommendations, and probable cause determinations related to the crash will be issued by the NTSB in a final report at a later date.''

NTSB Investigators Continue To Work On Site Of Kobe Bryant's Helicopter Crash
CALABASAS, CA - JANUARY 28: Investigators work at the scene of the helicopter crash, where former NBA star Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died, on January 28, 2020 in Calabasas, California. Kobe and "Gigi" were among nine people were perished in the crash as they were flying to his Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, where he was going to coach her in a tournament game. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

The report states investigators determined that Bryant's pilot, 50-year-old Ara Zobayan, "was the preferred pilot for this customer and was requested almost exclusively."

Zobayan had logged 8,200 hours of flight experience at the time of the crash.

A preliminary NTSB report released in February stated there was no evidence that the helicopter's two engines failed before it went down in the fiery wreck that killed Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others.

Click here to read the NTSB docket.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Television. The Associated Press contributed to this report. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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