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Trauma Hawk equipped with warning system missing on helicopter flying Kobe Bryant, 8 others

Pilot: Terrain warning system makes flying safer
Posted at 4:24 PM, Jan 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-29 19:41:17-05

The helicopter that crashed, killing NBA legend Kobe Bryant, and eight others in California was not equipped with safety technology called a Helicopter Terrain Awareness Warning System, known as H-TAWS

That according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The Health Care District of Palm Beach County’s does equip its two Trauma Hawk Helicopters with the device. By law, medical transport helicopters have to be.

The H-TAWS system warns pilots about the dangers they may not always see.

“Especially in days when you have reduced visibility,” says Jostein Lavoll, who is both Trauma Hawk pilot and instructor. “It can help you or aid you, in identifying obstacles,”

The helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant and eight others that crashed Sunday was not required to have that equipment.

It is unclear if an H-TAWS device would have made a difference in that hilly section of California.

But even in Florida, where the terrain is flat. Lavoll says the terrain warning system has value to him and other pilots.

It can alert him to hazards from beachfront high rises, to communications towers.

“I wouldn’t say we had a close call,” said Lavoll. “But it has given me a heads up that an obstacle is there.”

Palm Beach County’s Trauma Hawk helicopters were equipped with H-TAWS in 2016, a year before they were mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration.