A horrific helicopter crash may have caused, in part, by an inattentive pilot who was texting. The crash occurred near Mosby, Missouri in August 2011 and involved a medical helicopter. The copter came to rest nearly a mile from the helipad where it took off. According to a recent investigation conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), authorities found that the pilot made several errors attributable to inattentiveness.
Specifically, they found that the pilot was so distracted that he did not notice that the helicopter was low on fuel, and failed to make the required preflight checks that would have revealed the issues that led to the crash. The distractions, in addition to the fatigue (the pilot had only slept for five hours prior to his 12 hour shift) were the primary causes of the crash. Further, investigators found that the pilot sent 20 text messages in the hour before the crash.
The NTSB found that the Mosby crash was the first fatal aviation crash that involved texting. It solidified concerns that electronic devices could distract pilots in the same manner that they could pull the attention of commercial truck and bus drivers.
In fact, an October 2010 incident where Northwest Airlines pilots missed the airport because they were on their cell phones, prompted Congress to pass a law banning them from using handheld devices while a plane is in flight. These types of mistakes could lead to liability as they are prime examples of failures to use reasonable care in operating an aircraft.
Source: MyFoxPhilly.com, NTSB: Pilot’s texting contributed to copter crash, April 9, 2013