The helicopter was on a short flight from Orange County to Ventura County when it crashed in the Los Angeles suburb of Calabasas, and it’s being reported there was no black box on board that would’ve left an audio recording. Reportedly, unlike commercial airplanes, federal law does not require helicopters to carry a black box on board.
On Monday, Jennifer Homendy of the National Transportation Safety Board, said the pilot ascended 765 feet in 36 seconds to avoid a layer of fog that enshrouded the area. He made the move shortly after receiving special clearance to fly in cloudy weather.
Homendy also confirmed the helicopter dropped 325 feet in 14 seconds before it lost contact with air traffic control and crashed into a hillside. Debris was then found across 600 feet of the crash site.
Additionally, before the helicopter went down, the tower radioed the pilot and told him he was flying too low to be picked up on radar.
As of now, investigators aren’t sure why the helicopter crashed into the hillside, and it’ll take months before final determinations of the cause are reached. The aircraft was owned by Island Express Holding, a company based in nearby Van Nuys.
“It was a pretty devastating accident scene,” said Homendy. “There is an impact area on one of the hills, and a piece of the tail is down the hill on the left side of the hill. The fuselage is on the other side of that hill. Then the main rotor is about hundred yards beyond that. The debris field is about 500 to 600 feet.”
During the investigation, it’ll also be figured out if the pilot made a wrong call by flying in cloudy weather, but Homendy said there isn’t a criminal investigation being conducted.