US basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in the crash in the city of Calabasas, California.
The Sikorsky S-76 chopper reportedly caught fire and collided into a hillside. The crash ignited a brush fire at the scene, which made it difficult for emergency personnel to respond.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the crash, which is currently unknown.
As the world tries to come to terms with Bryant’s untimely demise and tributes are still pouring in, Business Insider SSA decided to go on a fact finding mission to know more about the Sikorsky S-76 chopper that Kobe Bryant owned and used to fly from his home in Orange County to Lakers home games and elsewhere.
The Sikorsky S-76 chopper was first introduced in the market in 1977. It was originally built for the rigorous demands of the offshore oil & gas transportation. Its capabilities fit naturally into other market segments, such as Executive transport, SAR, Airline and Helicopter Emergency Medical/Air Ambulance Services.
The company currently markets the Sikorsky S-76 to corporate executives for personal transportation, though it’s also used for search and rescue missions.
According to Lockheed Martin, the company that manufactures Sikorsky S-76 choppers, more than 178 corporate and VIP customers currently operate Sikorsky S-76 helicopters, as do various heads of state.
Kobe’s particular helicopter had been manufactured in 1991, and the NTSB database does not indicate any other accidents associated with the same tail number.
It typically costs around $13 million, can carry up to 12 passengers, features twin turboshaft engines, and has a range of 472 miles.
While investigations in the crash are ongoing it is helpful to note that helicopters tend to crash more frequently than other types of aircraft because they typically fly lower to the ground, which increases the risk that they might run into obstacles like buildings or power lines, especially when the weather makes it hard for a pilot to see.
Compared to planes, they also have more moving parts that can malfunction and tend to take off and land more often, which are statistically the most dangerous periods of any flight.