Pilot in Kobe Bryant crash violated weather-related flight rules in 2015, FAA records indicate

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(CNN) — Ara Zobayan, the pilot of the helicopter that crashed in California, killing NBA legend Kobe Bryant, violated weather-related flight rules in 2015, according to Federal Aviation Administration enforcement records obtained by CNN.

Bryant, Zobayan and seven other people died while the pilot was flying his passengers to a youth basketball game on a foggy morning last month.

The Los Angeles Times was first to report the alleged violation after filing a Freedom of Information Act request.

While operating an Island Express helicopter in May 2015, Zobayan was denied clearance through Los Angeles International Airport due to reduced visibility from weather conditions.

An air traffic controller informed him the airfield was reporting less than basic visual flight rules (VFR) minimums, but Zobayan violated the rules and flew into the airspace, according to the enforcement records.

Records state that Zobayan admitted his error.

He "took responsibility for his action, and was willing to take any other necessary steps toward compliance."

"Mr. Zobayan was counseled on operating in Class B airspace, special VFR weather minimums, proper planning, reviewing weather and anticipating required action. He was cooperative and receptive to the counseling," the report adds.

The underlying root cause of the violation was "human factor > aircrew > proper planning," according to the report. The records state that had Zobayan properly planned and reviewed current weather conditions at LAX, he would have been able to anticipate the required action to get clearance to fly. In doing so, he would have had "proper coordination, a proper request, and elimination of confusing terminology."

"Proper coordination should have included an earlier initiation of communication to allow time for receiving a clearance," the report adds.

It also says: "There are no indications that this is a repeated incident and there are no signs that this incident is a trend with Mr. Zobayan."

When Bryant's helicopter crashed into a mountainside near Calabasas on January 26, it was operating under "special visual flight rules (SVFR)," according to an air traffic control conversation with the pilot, captured by website LiveATC.net.

An SVFR clearance allows a pilot to fly in weather conditions worse than those allowed for regular visual flight rules.

Pilots can request SVFR clearance before takeoff or mid-flight, especially if conditions suddenly change, CNN transportation analyst Peter Goelz said after the crash.

While SVFR clearance is "pretty normal," he said, "it's not something that's often recommended."

"If you're a pilot, and you're in marginal conditions, or changing conditions that become marginal, you might call air traffic control" to request SVFR, Goelz said.

If granted SVFR clearance, the pilot will typically keep tighter communication with air traffic control.

The Burbank Airport control tower allowed the helicopter to proceed using the special clearance, the audio reveals.

According to the FAA's pilot certification database, Zobayan was an instrument-certified pilot who earned his commercial pilot's license in 2007. He is also a certified flight instructor for instrument instruction for helicopter pilots, the records show.

The database also shows Zobayan was up-to-date on FAA-required annual medical exams.

Pilot Kurt Deetz, who worked at Island Express with Zobayan, told CNN last month the two had a "jovial working relationship." He immediately recognized Zobayan's voice when he heard the air traffic control recording. Deetz described Zobayan as outspoken, with a distinctive voice and big personality.

This story was first published on CNN.com, "Pilot in Kobe Bryant crash violated weather-related flight rules in 2015, FAA records indicate"