The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ruled today that an Aug. 26, 2011, medical-helicopter flight crashed near Mosby, Missouri, because pilot James Freudenbert was texting on his cell phone.
The crash killed Terry Tacoronte, a patient, Freudenbert, Randy Bever, a flight nurse, and Chris Frakes, a paramedic, reports Bloomberg News.
During the Washington D.C. hearing, the NTSB found that Freudenbert was distracted by his texting and took off without enough fuel. Freudenbert thought he had enough fuel for a 45-minute flight but crashed when the fuel tank went dry in 30 minutes.
“We continue to see this in multiple modes of transportation,” NTSB Chairman Debbie Hersman said. “How many people have to die before we have to say something about it?”
The NTSB said there were at least 240 texts sent and received by Freudenbert during his shiftt, 20 of which were with a coworker before and during the accident. The two had planned to have dinner together.
The FAA actually allows pilots to text during cruising altitude but not during important parts of the flight, reports CNET.com.
However, use of electronic devices by pilots during a flight was not allowed by Air Methods Corporation, which owned the helicopter.
This is the first time the NTSB has uncovered evidence of texting during a flight involved in a fatal accident, stated Kelly Nantel, an NTSB spokeswoman.