The government regulates air travel, and with good reason. However, there have been loosened regulations for privately chartered helicopters that did not apply to medical transport helicopters and commercial jetliners. All-American basketball star Kobe Bryant’s death has brought attention to the regulations surrounding private helicopters, and with obvious good reason. Nine people lost their lives in what the world may later find out was a completely preventable tragedy.
At the moment, it is estimated that the investigation into the crash could take months. Already people are calling for tighter restrictions on private helicopters, perhaps closer to those required for medical transport by air. Some believe that choppers should even be forced to meet the standards of commercial airlines, complete with air traffic control regulations. Perhaps these things are being bandied about because of who the victim of this crash was, but it seems that the status quo was not enough to prevent a tragedy this time, and likely countless other times as well.
By all accounts, Kobe Bryant took every precaution and then some. His pilot was Ara Zobayan, who had 8,000 miles of flight time. He and his wife Vanessa even had a pact that they would never fly in the same helicopter. Kobe often traveling by private helicopter to avoid Los Angeles traffic.
Crashes are an inevitable part of life and modern travel, but given this tragedy and others, it may be time to revisit regulations. For instance, as experienced as Ara Zobayan was, given the limitations of Zoybayan’s flight company, it has come to light that this was a pilot who was less not well-versed in cockpit instrument use, which could be vital in a crisis situation. Further, there is evidence that the weather was far too turbulent to attempt the flight— but there are no regulations in place regarding taking such risks for private choppers, as there are for jetliners and other commercial aircraft. That is another question that is sure to continue to be raised.
In short, this tragedy need not have been suffered in vain. Hopefully, serious consideration is given to life-saving change.