On 26 January 2020 a Sikorsky S-76D (model year 1991) carrying Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and several others crashed in the hills of Calabasas, California, about 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
The helicopter carrying Bryant and his daughter were on their way to an AAU basketball game when the helicopter crashed in the Santa Monica mountains.
There were a total of 9 people on board of the aircraft, of which no one survived.
Causes of the crash are still unclear at the time of writing. Eyewitness reports mention the helicopter sounded like it was struggling, or as if the engine was not running properly.
Some aviation experts suspect the thick fog covering the hills on the morning of the accident may have had something to do with the crash. The morning of the crash visibility was so low the Los Angeles Police Department has grounded its helicopters.
The helicopter was flying with SFVR clearance (special visual flight rules). This allows pilots to fly in weather conditions worse than when flying under regular VFR (visual flight rules).
Flying in these conditions are not usually recommended, however they are quite common. While flying with this special clearance the pilot will keep closer contact with air traffic control.
The crash shouldn’t blemish the reputation of the helicopter. Nearly 900 Sikorsky S-76 helicopters were delivered worldwide, with a total of 7.4 million hours of flight.
Sikorsky mentioned in a statement regarding the accident they will inform customers of the S-76 model if they find any actionable findings regarding the safety of the aircraft.