Basketball: Kobe Bryant's helicopter pilot 'violated' federal standard, became disorientated

Investigators say the pilot in the helicopter crash that killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant violated federal standards and likely became disoriented while flying in cloudy conditions.

National Transportation Safety Board chairman Robert Sumwalt has made that announcement in his opening remarks to discuss the January 27, 2020 accident in Calabasas, California.

The crash claimed the lives of Bryant, 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, including pilot Ara Zobayan.

"He was flying under visual flight rules (VFR), which legally prohibited him from penetrating clouds," Sumwalt says.

"However, he continued this VFR flight through the clouds, into instrument meteorological conditions."

The NTSB scheduled Wednesday's (NZ time) long-awaited virtual board meeting to adopt a final report on the crash.

"We will look at whether the pilot faced any pressure to complete the flight and if so, where those pressures originated," Sumwalt says.

"What were the expectations of the pilot under company policy? Did he put pressure on himself?

"What actions could he have taken to have avoided flying into the clouds?

"We will discuss the phenomenon of spatial disorientation, the powerful, misleading sensations that can confuse a pilot conducting a visual flight who loses visual references and what types of training can be effective in countering this effect."

Bryant was a five-time NBA champion and three-time NBA Finals MVP during his 20-year career with Los Angeles Lakers. He was elected posthumously to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.