In our last post we discussed a tragic helicopter accident in 2011 and the recent ruling in the case by the National Transportation Safety Board. The board unanimously found that the helicopter pilot was distracted during the pre-flight safety check, failing to notice that the fuel tank was low.
Along with their ruling, the board issued a safety alert for all pilots urging them to refrain from using electronic devices during operations. This crash was the first fatal crash investigated by the board where they found that texting was a factor. However, it is not the first time that pilot distraction has raised concern.
For example, two pilots in 2010 missed their destination airport when they were distracted by their flight schedules on their laptops. No one was hurt by they overshot the airport by about 100 miles.
To combat this emerging problem, in January the Federal Aviation Administration proposed regulations that would prohibit flight crews from using cell phones and other devices while the plane is in the air. The law already prohibits any potentially distracting activities by airline pilots during critical times like takeoff and landing.
Stricter regulations could help federal safety officials combat the dangerous practice of distracted flying. Just like motorists, pilots are only capable of truly focusing on one thing at a time and a text message, particularly one that is alerted by a buzzing or beeping sound, takes the operator’s attention away from the important work at hand.
It is good advice for anyone on the go, whether by car, plane, truck or foot, to put the cell phone away to avoid distraction and potentially serious accidents.
Source: KATC, “NTSB: Pilot’s texting contributed to copter crash,” April 9, 2013