In the wake of the devastating helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven other people, records have emerged that the pilot of the craft, Ara Zobayan, violated federal flight rules in 2015 when he flew into a busy airspace near Los Angeles International Airport. Despite orders from traffic control to stay clear, the records state that Zobayan did not.

He was denied clearance to the airspace because weather conditions had reduced visibility below the visual flight rules. The FAA said he took responsibility for the violation and underwent counseling. The report did fault him for lack of preparation.

“Had Mr. Zobayan properly planned and reviewed current weather at LAX, he would have been able to anticipate the required action to transit … resulting in proper coordination,” the report said.

Zobayan is being investigated for his actions in the fatal crash last month that took his life along with everyone on board the helicopter.

Some pilots have jumped to his defense. Shawn Coyle is a longtime helicopter pilot who said the violation is pretty minor.

“I don’t know a single pilot out there who hasn’t violated a rule,” he said. “If that’s the only violation he’s ever had then I would say he’s pretty safe.”


Island Express Helicopters told federal investigators that they conducted additional training with Zobayan in the wake of the situation. They could not be reached for comment.

Although less-than-ideal weather is not uncommon for experienced pilots, flying with limited visibility still poses extreme danger.

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