Texting and Helicopter Piloting: Recent Helicopter Crash May Have Been Caused by Distracted Flying
We all know – or should know – that texting and driving is extremely dangerous for everyone. But the texting phenomenon has apparently taken to the air.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a safety alert to all pilots, asking them to stop using distracting electronic devices such as cell phones or tablets during critical operations. The warning, which was issued on April 9, came as a result of an investigation into a medical helicopter crash in which four people were killed, in which texting was implicated, among a number of other factors.
After reviewing reports of investigations of the crash, the NTSB concluded that it had been caused by a very tired and distracted pilot who had received five hours sleep the night before and was near the end of a 12-hour shift when the accident occurred. He chose to skip preflight safety checks, which would have revealed his helicopter to be low on fuel. But even after realizing he was low on fuel, he made the decision to continue with the flight, leading to the crash.
The investigation showed that the pilot had sent 25 texts and received 60 during his 12-hour shift, including 20 exchanged during the last 100 minutes before the crash, and eight while the helicopter was in flight. Most of the text exchanges were with a female co-worker. The company operating the helicopter claims its policies prohibit the use of electronic devices while in flight.
While this was the first fatal aircraft crash in which texting may have been among the causes, the NTSB has been concerned for years about the impact of distractions from electronic devices all across the country’s transportation infrastructure. Obviously texting while driving is a problem with cars and trucks on the road, but they also worry about the impact on planes, trains and even ships.
This NTSB safety alert comes several months after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed regulations that would prohibit airline flight crews from using electronic devices while the plane is in operation. These regulations were required by a law passed by Congress as a reaction to an incident that occurred in October 2010, in which two pilots overflew their destination by more than 100 miles, because they were preoccupied with their laptops.
The job of the medical helicopter pilot is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. It requires a lot of skill and concentration. When a pilot fails to do everything he can to keep everyone safe, tragedy can occur. If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a medical helicopter crash, contact the proven Texas Medical Helicopter Accident Injury Lawyers at Hill Law Firm today.