Congressman Hopes to Improve Helicopter Safety
SHERMAN OAKS, Calif. (Jan. 31, 2020) — Fifteen years ago, the National Transportation Safety Board advised the Federal Aviation Administration that all helicopters should be equipped with a Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS) that would help pilots navigate in low visibility such as fog.
The FAA, however, declined to follow the 2004 recommendation by the NTSB. Now there’s a new push to strengthen federal safety standards for helicopters in the wake of Sunday’s crash that killed six adults and three teenagers including Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, 13.
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) introduced a bill on Thursday that would establish a commission on helicopter safety in an effort to improve federal safety standards for them. The commission would report best practices to Congress.
The proposed Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act would also include a requirement that all helicopters be equipped with the TAWS.
Nearly one week ago, a helicopter piloted by Ara Zobayan did not have the TAWS crashed in Calabassas killing all nine passengers including Bryant. Due to low visibility at the time, the pilot most likely did not see the hillside and crashed into it on Sunday.
Sherman believes that if the helicopter was required to have the safety system, the tragedy could have possibly been avoided. The TAWS system costs between $25,000 to $40,000 per helicopter, Sherman said.
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