Vanessa Bryant Lobbies Congress to Pass a Helicopter Safety Bill

Courtesy of Inside Edition

By Garrett Farrell

In the aftermath of the tragic death of her husband and daughter, Kobe and Gianna Bryant, Vanessa Bryant is asking Congress to pass a bill mandating stricter security standards for helicopters. This bill, called the “Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act,” was introduced by Democratic lawmakers on Thursday, June 18.

The bill mandates that all helicopters certified to carry six or more passengers have extra safety features including a Terrain Awareness and Warning System, a cockpit voice recorder, and a flight data recorder. Bryant believes that these features would have prevented the crash that killed her husband and daughter in late January. 

The bill was originally introduced to Congress in January, immediately following the helicopter crash that killed the Bryants and seven other passengers; however, the bill was amended after Bryant contacted Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA). In addition to the bill, Bryant sued the owners of Island Express Helicopters, who owned the helicopter that crashed, and has proposed that the helicopter industry rename the black-box to the “Mamba 8 box,” in honor of the eight passengers who died in the crash.

“As passengers traveling on aircrafts we assume that proper safety measures are in order to prevent accidents from happening before we fly,” said Bryant in a statement asking Congress to pass the bill. “It’s unfortunate that this is not the case and aircraft companies must do their part to protect lives.”

“Kobe and Gigi’s death was an absolute tragedy, and safety and precautionary measures could have been taken to prevent it. As for the legislation itself, ensuring public safety is better accounted for in the future should be a slam dunk for Congress, especially with so many following this story and supporting Mrs. Bryant,” said rising junior politics major Tyler Farrar. “Especially right now, when our politics are so divisive, this is something we could really come together on, as we did following Kobe’s death. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t pass.”

Bryant’s lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters alleges that there were safety issues with the helicopter that could have been prevented if the company had followed safety considerations set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). According to CNN, the company is only certified by the FAA for Visual Flight Rules, and the conditions on the day of the crash called for Instrument Flight Rules. 

In addition to Island Express, Bryant is also suing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department for releasing photographs and videos of the crash site in Calabasas. In early May, the state Legislature of California began to consider a bill making such actions illegal. The bill, called “Invasion of Privacy: First Responders,” sets a fine of $5,000 and a year in prison as punishment for first responders who share such pictures.

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