Transportation Safety Board, on Friday are turning to the travelers’ personal electronics
for potential answers with no black box recorder aboard the helicopter that crashed on January in Calabasas, killing Kobe Bryant
and eight others, investigators with the National.
Investigators hoped the passengers’ cellphones and the pilot’s iPad could help them better understand the chaotic last moments
of the flight before the chopper slammed into a hillside in foggy conditions.
Experts said the helicopter was flying low enough that the activities of the electronics were likely captured by cellphone towers.
The pilot of the Sikorsky S-76B, Ara Zobayan, made his last communication with air traffic control as he climbed to 2,300 feet
heading toward Camarillo in heavy clouds on Jan. 26.
Investigators are seeking to reconstruct what led him to suddenly bank left and descend rapidly just before the crash.
The NTSB is increasingly using personal electronics to help understand aviation disasters, and collecting the devices has become
part of investigative protocol.
According to NTSB member, Jennifer Homendy, shortly after the crash, NTSB immediately swung into action looking for electronic
devices, as we always do.
“We were able to recover an iPad and a cellphone. In the days that followed, investigators recovered additional personal devices
and determined that the iPad belonged to Zobayan.
The NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway, said though, it could be a while, before ascertaining whether there was recoverable data
on the devices.
Investigators will also examine any potential communications from those devices during the flight from John Wayne Airport
in Orange County, where the helicopter took off from.
Meanwhile, the group were heading to Bryant’s Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks for a basketball game.
According to coroner’s reports, when the chopper went down about 40 minutes later, everyone on board died.
They include: Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, Mamba coach Christina Mauser, player Payton Chester and her mother,
Sarah Chester, player Alyssa Altobelli and her parents, John and Keri Altobelli, and Zobayan.
The helicopter had neither a cockpit voice recorder nor a flight data recorder, better known as a black box, for the NTSB to
analyse. However, Federal Aviation Administration regulations did not require the chopper to have such recorders.
But the pilot did have an app loaded on his iPad that allows a pilot to plan a flight and check on weather, terrain, position and
potential hazards in real time from the cockpit.
The ForeFlight app can provide in-flight alerts of changing conditions, and it monitors GPS, speed and other dynamics of the aircraft.
The NTSB, however, said it was unclear whether Zobayan was using the iPad because of the level of destruction during the crash.
A former FAA insp, Gary Lackey, who for years has inspected choppers at Island Express, the operator of the helicopter that
went down, said it was not uncommon to see iPads with ForeFlight mounted for use by pilots.
Veteran aviators, however, said the devices could provide insight into a flight but could also prove to be a distraction.
Meanwhile, information from electronic devices gathered by NTSB investigators had previously helped investigators better
understand why aircraft crashed.
According to the agency Cellphone records are crucial in determining the cause of a fatal crash of a Bell helicopter in New
Mexico in Sept. 2017. The helicopter was flying over open ranch land when it went down.
NTSB determined there was no mechanical failure or malfunction, but the pilot’s cellphone, which was recovered and
reviewed, showed he had called a car rental agency during the flight.
However, the car rental clerk said she could tell the pilot was in a helicopter and that he seemed “busy or distracted.’’
“They were talking about a future rental when the phone disconnected mid-sentence,’’ she said.
“Based on available information, the pilot was likely using his cellphone during the low-altitude flight and became
distracted, which resulted in the controlled flight into terrain,” NTSB said.
Similarly, the likely cause of the fatal crash of a single-engine Cessna airplane near Watkins, in May, 2014, was
revealed by a GoPro camera recovered from the wreckage.
While the crash itself was not captured, the video revealed the pilot and various passengers had been taking
selfies with their phones during a night flight, sometimes using a flash.
The NTSB, however, said that the pilot probably became disoriented and “it is likely that the cellphone used
during the accident flight distracted the pilot and contributed to the development of spatial disorientation and subsequent
lack of control.
In addition to personal electronics, investigators are also likely trying to extract data from the helicopter’s flight management system.
A veteran pilot of Sikorsky helicopters with two decades flying as well as training pilots, Doug Solbrekken, said he suspects the system
would not yield much more than what officials already know from local radar.
“There is still a slim chance that a passenger’s mobile phone or iPad could have been recording at the time of the crash.
“Some pilots also use GoPro-type cameras suction-cupped to the windows, either pointing outside or back into the cockpit or cabin
during flight,” he said.
The FAA in 2014 banned airline pilots from using personal electronic devices, citing them as a distraction.
But general aviation pilots are allowed to use devices such as tablets with programs like ForeFlight. With pilots
who are approved to fly passengers and cargo, the FAA can authorize operators to use electronic devices that can assist pilots.
The U.S. Department of Transportation in 2014 examined the safety of electronic flight devices and personal electronics
used in the cockpit.
However, pilots complained of trouble scrolling and zooming with sometimes incorrect data and said the devices can be
a distraction and sometimes lead to misinterpreted or erroneous aircraft performance parameters.
Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyuhttps://nnn.ng/phones-electronic-devices-hold-clues-to-crash-of-bryant-helicopter/
Oil rises after OPEC warn members to stick to quotas
Oil prices rose for a fourth day in a row on Friday, putting crude on track for a weekly gain of about 10 per cent, after Saudi Arabia pressed allies to stick to production quotas and banks, including Goldman Sachs, predicted a supply deficit.
Brent crude was up 18 cents at $43.48 a barrel by 0756 GMT while United States oil futures rose 17 cents to $41.14.
Both contracts are set for their strongest weekly gains since early June after Hurricane Sally cut United States production while OPEC and its allies laid out steps to address market weakness.
Goldman Sachs predicted the market would be in a deficit of three million barrels per day (bpd) by the fourth quarter and reiterated its target for Brent to reach $49 by the end of the year and $65 by the third quarter of 2021.
Swiss bank UBS also pointed to the possibility of undersupply in the oil market, forecasting Brent would rise to $45 a barrel in the fourth quarter and $55 by mid-2021.
Meanwhile, a tropical depression in the western part of the Gulf of Mexico could become a hurricane in the next few days, potentially threatening more United States oil facilities.
The Saudi Arabian energy minister said those who gamble on oil prices would be hurt “like hell”.
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers in OPEC+ are cutting 7.7 million bpd of output and the group stressed at a meeting on Thursday that it would take action against members not complying with the deal.
In the Gulf of Mexico, United States offshore drillers and exporters began a clear-up on Thursday after Hurricane Sally weakened to a depression and started rebooting idle rigs following their closure for five days.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde
NIGCOMSAT partners other satellite agencies to power 1st African Satellite-Based Augmentation System
This is contained in a statement by NIGCOMSAT General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Mr Adamu Idris in Abuja on Thursday.
According to him, the aim is to provide the first SBAS open service in this part of the world on NigComSat-1R satellite, a communications satellite managed and operated by NIGCOMSAT Ltd under the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy of Nigeria.
He said the open service was provided as part of the ‘SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean’ programme which pursue the autonomous provision over the continent of SBAS services to augment the performances of the satellite navigation constellations GPS and Galileo.
“We are proud to be part of this ambitious programme to provide satellite navigation services in the African and Indian Ocean region.
” The use of our geostationary communication satellite, NigComSat-1R navigation payload to broadcast the first signal will be Africa’s premier communications satellite contribution to SBAS as a regional satellite-based augmentation system for the continent,”she said.
” The SBAS services will improve flight safety and efficiency in Africa, as well as support safety and commercial applications related to land, sea and rail transportation which are beneficial to the economy.
” It will follow the policy direction of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami in digitalising the Nigerian economy,”he said.
Lawal said the services was expected to grow the GDP and value propensity not only in the communications sector but aviation, maritime, railtransport, precision agriculture, survey, oil and gas,
He said it would boost security of strategic national infrastructure and mass market applications for sustainable development beyond Nigerian shores.
Lawal said the open service essentially aimed at carrying out technical trials as well as partnering with airlines, field demonstrations for aircraft and rotorcraft, to demonstrate the benefits of the future operational safety-of-life SBAS services expected from 2024.
“It is expected to include Precise Point Positioning (PPP) and emergency warning service to populations, which performance will be proven through demonstrations.
” The signal-in-space is generated by a dedicated system tested, developed as part of the SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean preliminary design phase, which is financed by the EU and awarded to Thales Alenia space, a joint venture between Thales 67 per cent and Leonardo 33 per cent .
“The SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean is based on the European EGNOS developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) acting under delegation of the European Commission and operated by the European GNSS agency GSA, “he said.
” It is compliant to the standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the Minimum Operational Performance Standard developed by the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) organisation.
” It will be visible in the whole of Africa and the Indian Ocean up to the West Australian coast and also in Europe,” he said.
Edited By: Ali Baba-Inuwa
FIFA president meets Trump to discuss 2026 World Cup finals
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has met United States president Donald Trump to discuss preparations for the 2026 World Cup, the global football body said on Thursday.
United States are to co-host the finals with Mexico and Canada.
“President Infantino thanked President Trump for his great commitment to the success of the FIFA World Cup 2026 and his engagement in a bright future for football in the United States,” it said.
Infantino also made a courtesy visit to United States Attorney General William Barr where he used the opportunity to “personally thank the United States authorities… for their work in the fight against corruption in football.”
Several dozen football officials, mainly from Latin America and the Caribbean, were indicted in the United States in 2015 on corruption charges leading to the biggest scandal in FIFA’s history.
Several of those have since been jailed.
“Ever since I was elected, we have shown our determination to eradicate the malpractices which tarnished FIFA’s reputation in the past,” Infantino, who was elected in 2016, was quoted as saying.
“I have had similar meetings in Switzerland, and FIFA’s lawyers are also in regular contact with prosecutors and law enforcement agencies wherever and whenever needed,” he added.
“In this way, I am fully convinced that the credibility and reputation of FIFA is being restored at the highest level.”
Infantino himself is the subject of criminal proceedings in his native Switzerland.
These were launched by a special prosecutor looking into meetings the FIFA president had with former Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber.
Lauber and Infantino have denied wrongdoing.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Boeing, FAA failures to blame for 737 MAX crashes: United States House report
The crashes “were not the result of a singular failure, technical mistake, or mismanaged event,” the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Democratic majority said in its highly critical report released on Wednesday.
“They were the horrific culmination of a series of faulty technical assumptions by Boeing’s engineers, a lack of transparency on the part of Boeing’s management, and grossly insufficient oversight by the FAA.”
The 737 MAX was grounded in March 2019 after the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 near Addis Ababa which killed all 157 aboard.
In October 2018, a Lion Air 737 MAX had crashed in Indonesia killing all 189 on board.
“Boeing failed in its design and development of the MAX, and the FAA failed in its oversight of Boeing and its certification of the aircraft,” the report said, detailing a series of problems in the plane’s design and the FAA’s approval of it.
Boeing said it “learned many hard lessons as a company from the accidents … and from the mistakes we have made”.
It said it had cooperated fully with the House committee and that revised design work on the 737 MAX had received intensive internal and external review involving more than 375,000 engineering and testing hours and 1,300 test flights.
The FAA said in a statement it would work with lawmakers “to implement improvements identified in its report.”
It added it was “focused on advancing overall aviation safety by improving our organisation, processes, and culture.”
The report said Boeing made “faulty design and performance assumptions” especially regarding a key safety system, called MCAS, which was linked to both the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes.
The FAA “failed to ensure the safety of the traveling public”, the report said.
Lawmakers have proposed numerous reforms to restructure how the FAA oversees aircraft certification.
A Senate committee will take up a reform bill Wednesday.
Lawmakers suggested Boeing was motivated to cut costs and move quickly to get the 737 MAX to market.
“This is a tragedy that never should have happened,” House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio told reporters.
“We’re going to take steps in our legislation to see that it never happens again as we reform the system.”
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara)