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Feinstein Calls for Mandatory Safety Equipment After Fatal Calabasas Helicopter Crash

            Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) yesterday called on the Federal Aviation Administration to immediately put in place a requirement that all commercial helicopters be equipped with terrain awareness and warning systems. The letter comes after a fatal crash on January 26, 2020 in Calabasas, California killed nine Californians, including Kobe Bryant and his daughter.

            “While the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation into the recent California crash is still ongoing and will provide specific recommendations once complete, initial reports indicate the helicopter was neither equipped with, nor required to have, terrain awareness technology.  This is concerning, since the NTSB previously issued Safety Recommendation A-6-19 in 2006 that recommend that the FAA require all helicopters that carry six or more passengers to have this technology. The NTSB has labeled the status of this recommendation ‘unacceptable’ due to FAA’s inaction,” wrote Senator Feinstein.

            “In order to ensure such a tragedy never happens again, I ask that the FAA commence a rulemaking process to require all commercial helicopters operating in the U.S. to have terrain awareness and warning systems.”

Full text of the letter is available here and below.

February 4, 2020

The Honorable Steve Dickson
Administrator
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20591

Dear Mr. Dickson:

            I write regarding the fatal crash on January 26, 2020, in Calabasas, California, that tragically killed nine Californians, including Kobe Bryant and his daughter.  I ask that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) immediately expand its requirement for terrain awareness and warning systems to all commercial helicopters.

            While the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation into the recent California crash is still ongoing and will provide specific recommendations once complete, initial reports indicate the helicopter was neither equipped with, nor required to have, terrain awareness technology.  This is concerning, since the NTSB previously issued Safety Recommendation A-6-19 in 2006 that recommend that the FAA require all helicopters that carry six or more passengers to have this technology.  The NTSB has labeled the status of this recommendation ‘unacceptable’ due to FAA’s inaction.

            In order to ensure such a tragedy never happens again, I ask that the FAA commence a rulemaking process to require all commercial helicopters operating in the U.S. to have terrain awareness and warning systems.  While I understand these systems can cost $35,000 per helicopter, I believe reducing the risk to passengers and those on the ground is more than worth this cost.

            Thank you for your attention to this matter, and I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

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