- A helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant and eight others crashed on Jan. 26, killing everybody on board.
- Island Express, the company that operated the helicopter, suspended operations on Jan. 30 and 31, an employee told Business Insider.
- It may suspend operations for several days.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Island Express — the company that operated the helicopter that crashed on January 26, killing all nine on board including basketball icon Kobe Bryant — is suspending operations for at least two days.
CNN first reported on the suspension. An employee confirmed to Business Insider that Island Express is not operating helicopters on January 30 and 31. Flights are scheduled for February 1, but they may be canceled.
“We are going day by day,” the employee said.
Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were with seven others in the basketball star’s private helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76B. That model with a strong safety record and a reputation for serving as a reliable VIP and corporate transport.
Bryant’s use of the helicopter to avoid traffic between Orange County and Los Angeles was well known, with Bryant offering the helicopter to help teammates get to doctors appointments.
The helicopter was given special permission to fly in foggy weather. It had “special visual flight rules” clearance, which allows a flight to continue in worse weather conditions without relying solely on instrument-based navigation.
Under normal visual flight rules, or VFR, visibility is adequate for a pilot to stay oriented and navigate by visual cues, often used in conjunction with instruments. SVFR clearance can be requested when a pilot is not rated to fly solely by instrument — conditions known as instrument flight rules, or IFR — in an aircraft they’re piloting, particularly if conditions deteriorate during a flight that was previously under VFR. Under SVFR, a pilot typically remains in close contact with air-traffic controllers.
The New York Times reported on Monday that the investigation is likely to center on whether it was the correct decision to let the helicopter continue on its journey.
Los Angeles Police Department officials told The Times that even police helicopters generally didn’t fly in the conditions seen on Sunday morning. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.