The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in a conference on Tuesday that the pilot of Kobe Bryant's helicopter was likely "disoriented" before the crash.
In a live streamed board meeting, investigators discussed the January 2020 helicopter disaster that took the lives of all nine onboard, including Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.
According to Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the NTSB, pilot Ara Zobayan was flying "under visual flight rules," which means that he needed to be able to see where he was going.
Zobayan flew through clouds that morning, which was a violation of federal standards, and likely became disoriented just before the helicopter crashed.
The aircraft climbed sharply and had nearly broken through the clouds when it plunged into a hillside near Calabasas, California.
The NTSB determined, "The probable cause of this accident was the pilot's decision to continue flight under visual flight rules into instrument meteorological conditions which resulted in spatial disorientation and loss of control."*
The board continued, "Contributing to the accident was the pilot's likely self-induced pressure and the pilot's plan continuation bias, which adversely affected his decision-making, and Island Express Helicopter Inc.’s inadequate review and oversight of its safety management processes."*
*This article has been updated.