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Helicopter pilot in Bryant crash had FAA violation in 2015

The pilot was reprimanded five years ago for flying into airspace that had reduced visibility without permission.
Firefighters work the scene of a helicopter crash where former NBA star Kobe Bryant died, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Calabasas, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The pilot of a helicopter that crashed into a Southern California hillside, killing Kobe Bryant and eight others, was reprimanded five years ago for flying into airspace that had reduced visibility without permission.

A Federal Aviation Administration enforcement record says Ara Zaboyan was counseled in 2015 after he strayed into Los Angeles International Airport space after being denied permission to cross because of reduced visibility. The FAA record says Zobayan admitted and took responsibility for the error.

The crash near Los Angeles in Calabasas also killed John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and the pilot Ara Zobayan.

July 26, 2018 Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna watch during the U.S. national championships swimming meet in Irvine, Calif. (AP)

The Los Angeles Lakers will hold a memorial service for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, almost a month since they died in a helicopter crash along with seven other people in Southern California.

The memorial service, scheduled for Feb. 24 at 10 a.m., will be held at the Staples Center and is open to the public.

Federal investigators said wreckage from the helicopter did not show any evidence of outward engine failure, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The NTSB is investigating the accident, including any role heavy fog played, and a final report isn’t expected for at least a year.

"Our investigators have already developed a substantial amount of evidence about the circumstances of this tragic crash," said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. "And we are confident that we will be able to determine its cause as well as any factors that contributed to it so we can make safety recommendations to prevent accidents like this from occurring again.”