More information is surfacing about the helicopter that went down in Calabasas, killing Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others.
According to documents filed with the FAA and obtained by NBC Los Angeles, the helicopter was upgraded to seat nine passengers. In 2016, two captain chairs were taken out of the passenger compartment and replaced with a bench-like seat, so the craft could accommodate up to seven passengers with two cockpit seats.
The replacement seating was approved by the FAA.
The papers also revealed that the helicopter’s electronic equipment was also replaced and upgraded. Nearly a year ago, weather radar systems were taken out of the aircraft.
Last week, NTSB spokeswoman Jennifer Homendy noted that the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter did not have a “terrain awareness and warning system,” or TAWS, which alerts pilots when they are too close to the ground. As of right now, the FAA only requires the system in air ambulances.
She said there were no cockpit voice recorder or flight data recorders on board, which may have assisted in the investigation. An iPad and phone were recovered at the scene, but it is unknown at this time to whom they belonged.
The NTSB is looking at weather and other factors, and has obtained maintenance and airworthiness records. Interviews with air traffic controllers and the helicopter’s operators are underway.
A detailed follow-up report from the NTSB will be issued in 12 to 18 months.