Pilot Texting Linked to Fatal Air Crash

Helicopter pilot was texting about dinner date while flying
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2013 1:28 AM CDT
Updated Apr 9, 2013 3:47 AM CDT

(Newser) – Texting while flying may have been a major factor in the 2011 crash of an emergency medical helicopter, according to National Transportation Safety Board investigators. Pilot James Freudenbert died along with three other people when he crashed in Missouri after running out of fuel. The NTSB, implicating distraction caused by cell phone use in a commercial aviation crash for the first time, found that Freudenbert sent and received seven messages during the flight, Bloomberg reports.

Freudenbert, who was arranging dinner with a coworker, was breaking company rules by using an electronic device while at the controls. "This is a classic example of dividing attention in a way that compromises safety," says a psychology professor who has studied the distraction caused by mobile devices. He says that when he gives talks on distracted driving, he asks drivers how they would feel about an airline pilot calling to make dinner reservations while preparing to land. "Curiously enough, here is a situation in which that ludicrous example occurred."

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