NTSB says pilot's distraction by text messages contributed to fatal medical helicopter crash

NTSB says pilot's distraction by text messages contributed to fatal medical helicopter crash
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POSTED: Sunday, April 14, 2013 - 12:00pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 12:47pm

Federal investigators say a pilot's texting while flying was a major reason for a deadly helicopter crash in missouri nearly two years ago.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators say the pilot of a the medical emergency helicopter that crashed in Mosby, Missouri in 2011 was distracted by his personal electronic device, on which he was texting at least a half dozen times, even while flying.

NTSB investigators say even after the pilot realized the airborne chopper was low on fuel he was still texting.

The chopper ran out of fuel, causing the crash which left the pilot, a patient and two medical attendants dead.

Federal investigators told the National Transportation Safety Board Tuesday that during a pre-flight check the pilot forgot to re-fuel and was instead texting a co-worker on a personal matter.

"He was sending and receiving text messages, particularly during the second half his shift, with an off-duty aircom communications specialist," investigator Dr. Bill Bramble testified.

This is the first time the NTSB has uncovered evidence of texting or mobile phone use during a flight involved in a fatal accident.

The safety board is calling on the Federal Aviation Administration for an even stronger ban on texting during all phases of flight.

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