Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

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Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by CD » Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:20 am

Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash
By Alan Levin - Apr 9, 2013 12:35 PM ET .

Texting by a pilot before and during a 2011 medical-helicopter flight in Missouri contributed to its crash, the first time such distractions have been implicated in a fatal commercial-aviation accident, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board found.

The distraction from texting helped lead the pilot to take off without enough fuel, the investigative agency found at a hearing today in Washington. The helicopter’s engine stopped after the pilot reported that he had more fuel than was aboard, the NTSB found.

While calling texting a contributing factor rather than a probable cause of the accident, the safety board issued a warning today to pilots about the distractions posed by using wireless devices during flight.

“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 documented at least 240 texts sent and received by the pilot during his shift the day of the accident, according to records cited by Bill Bramble, an NTSB investigator. There were 20 such texts with a coworker before and during the accident, the safety board found.

The Air Methods Corp. (AIRM) helicopter crashed in a field after running out of fuel, according to preliminary NTSB reports. Use of electronic devices by pilots during flight was prohibited by company rules, according to the reports.

Hypothetical Reality

“This is a classic example of dividing attention in a way that compromises safety,” said David Strayer, a psychology professor at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City who has studied how personal electronic devices cause distraction.

This is the first time the NTSB has uncovered evidence of texting or mobile-phone use during a flight involved in a fatal accident, Kelly Nantel, an NTSB spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

In talks he gives on distracted driving, Strayer said he often asks people what they would think about an airline pilot phoning to make dinner reservations while approaching an airport.

“Curiously enough, here is a situation in which that ludicrous example occurred,” Strayer said. “Now you’ve got it coming full circle.”

Four Texts

The company has put in place safety improvements since the accident, Mike Allen, president of domestic air medical services at Air Methods, said in a statement. Among the changes is a “zero tolerance policy” for mobile phone use during flight, Allen said.

Air Methods, based in Englewood, Colorado, says on its website that it operates more than 300 air-medical bases in 48 states.

The crash on Aug. 26, 2011, in Mosby, Missouri, killed Terry Tacoronte, a patient who was being flown from one hospital to another. Pilot James Freudenbert, Randy Bever, a flight nurse, and Chris Frakes, a paramedic, also died. The helicopter was being operated under the name LifeNet.

Freudenbert received four texts, three of them from a friend at work, and sent three others during the flight, according to NTSB records. He was planning to have dinner with the coworker, according to the records.

Another 13 texts were logged on his phone in the 71 minutes before the flight, including two during a previous flight, according to NTSB records...

Full article here...
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by CpnCrunch » Tue Apr 09, 2013 12:26 pm

Really? They think sending 3 texts during the flight and 13 texts in the 71 minutes before the flight contributed to the crash? I tend to think his fatigue had more to do with it. The fact that he took off twice in a row without having having enough fuel seems to suggest that it was more than a few texts that caused his screw-up.
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by CD » Tue Apr 09, 2013 1:13 pm

NTSB DETERMINES FATAL MISSOURI HELICOPTER ACCIDENT WAS CAUSED BY FUEL EXHAUSTION, POOR DECISION MAKING AND INABILITY TO PERFORM CRITICAL FLIGHT MANEUVER

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April 9, 2013

WASHINGTON -- A pilot’s decision to depart on a mission despite a critically low fuel level as well as his inability to perform a crucial flight maneuver following the engine flameout from fuel exhaustion was the probable cause of an emergency medical services helicopter accident that killed four in Missouri, the National Transportation Safety Board said today.

“This accident, like so many others we’ve investigated, comes down to one of the most crucial and time-honored aspects of safe flight: good decision making,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman.

On August 26, 2011, at about 6:41 pm CDT, a Eurocopter AS350 B2 helicopter operated by Air Methods on an EMS mission crashed following a loss of engine power as a result of fuel exhaustion a mile from an airport in Mosby, Missouri. The pilot, flight nurse, flight paramedic and patient were killed, and the helicopter was substantially damaged.

At about 5:20 pm, the EMS operator, located in St. Joseph, Mo., accepted a mission to transport a patient from a hospital in Bethany, Mo., to a hospital 62 miles away in Liberty, Mo. The helicopter departed its base less than 10 minutes later to pick up the patient at the first hospital. Shortly after departing, the pilot reported back to the company that he had two hours’ worth of fuel onboard.

After reaching the first hospital, the pilot called the company’s communication center and indicated that he actually had only about half the amount of fuel (Jet-A) that he had reported earlier, and that he would need to obtain fuel in order to complete the next flight leg to the destination hospital.

Even though the helicopter had only about 30 minutes of fuel remaining and the closest fueling station along the route of flight was at an airport about 30 minutes away, the pilot elected to continue the mission. He departed the first hospital with crew members and a patient in an attempt to reach the airport to refuel.

The helicopter ran out of fuel and the engine lost power within sight of the airport. The helicopter crashed after the pilot failed to make the flight control inputs necessary to enter an autorotation, an emergency flight maneuver that must be performed within about two seconds of the loss of engine power in order to execute a safe emergency landing. The investigation found that the autorotation training the pilot received was not representative of an actual engine failure at cruise speed, which likely contributed to his failure to successfully execute the maneuver.

Further, a review of helicopter training resources suggested that the accident pilot may not have been aware of the specific control inputs needed to successfully enter an autorotation at cruise speed. The NTSB concluded that because of a lack of specific guidance in Federal Aviation Administration training materials, many other helicopter pilots may also be unaware of the specific actions required within seconds of losing engine power and recommended that FAA revise its training materials to convey this information.

An examination of cell phone records showed that the pilot had made and received multiple personal calls and text messages throughout the afternoon while the helicopter was being inspected and prepared for flight, during the flight to the first hospital, while he was on the helipad at the hospital making mission-critical decisions about continuing or delaying the flight due to the fuel situation, and during the accident flight.

While there was no evidence that the pilot was using his cell phone when the flameout occurred, the NTSB said that the texting and calls, including those that occurred before and between flights, were a source of distraction that likely contributed to errors and poor decision-making.

“This investigation highlighted what is a growing concern across transportation – distraction and the myth of multi-tasking,” said Hersman. “When operating heavy machinery, whether it’s a personal vehicle or an emergency medical services helicopter, the focus must be on the task at hand: safe transportation.”

The NTSB cited four factors as contributing to the accident: distracted attention due to texting, fatigue, the operator’s lack of policy requiring that a flight operations specialist be notified of abnormal fuel situations, and the lack of realistic training for entering an autorotation at cruise airspeed.

The NTSB made a nine safety recommendations to the FAA and Air Methods Corporation and reiterated three previously issued recommendations to the FAA.

A synopsis of the NTSB report, including the probable cause, findings and a complete list of the safety recommendations, is available at http://go.usa.gov/TxYT. The full report will be available on the website in several weeks.


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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by patter » Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:02 pm

We have one these reports as well. Up north, in a C185. He hadn't texted for several minutes but texting, was heavily implicated with charts and all.
And the speed at which the report was generated was lightning speed.
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by CD » Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:09 pm

patter wrote:We have one these reports as well. Up north, in a C185. He hadn't texted for several minutes but texting, was heavily implicated with charts and all.
Aviation Investigation Report A11W0180
Controlled flight into terrain
Trek Aerial Surveys
Cessna 185E C–FXJN
Fort St. John, British Columbia, 12 nm E
30 November 2011
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by Doc » Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:42 pm

I am sorry, BUT
If you knowingly "depart on a mission despite critically low fuel level....." YOU ARE AN ASS!!
Problem with that. I don't GARA!
When are pilots going to GROW UP??
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by Doc » Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:45 pm

A flight nurse named Randy Beaver? Really?
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by switchflicker » Tue Apr 09, 2013 5:36 pm

What's wrong with that name? Randy could be male or female. Beaver is not unheard of.

Sw
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by mbav8r » Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:18 pm

randy [ˈrændɪ]
adj randier, randiest
1. Informal chiefly Brit
a. sexually excited or aroused
b. sexually eager or lustful

bea·ver 1 (bvr)
a. A large aquatic rodent of the genus Castor, having thick brown fur, webbed hind feet, a broad flat tail, and sharp incisors adapted for gnawing bark, felling trees, and constructing dams and underwater lodges.
b. The fur of this rodent.
c. A top hat originally made of the underfur of this rodent.
2. A napped wool fabric, similar to felt, used for outer garments.
3.
a. Vulgar Slang The female genitals.
b. Offensive & Vulgar Slang A woman or girl.
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by switchflicker » Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:50 pm

Oh

Sw
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by Gogona » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:33 pm

mbav8r wrote:randy [ˈrændɪ]
adj randier, randiest
1. Informal chiefly Brit
a. sexually excited or aroused
b. sexually eager or lustful

bea·ver 1 (bvr)
a. A large aquatic rodent of the genus Castor, having thick brown fur, webbed hind feet, a broad flat tail, and sharp incisors adapted for gnawing bark, felling trees, and constructing dams and underwater lodges.
b. The fur of this rodent.
c. A top hat originally made of the underfur of this rodent.
2. A napped wool fabric, similar to felt, used for outer garments.
3.
a. Vulgar Slang The female genitals.
b. Offensive & Vulgar Slang A woman or girl.
Good job! But you could also assume, this name has non-English origin, after all.

However, I knew the girl from my high school, who's last name was "Vagina". And although this word means exactly the same in our language as in English, surprisingly, nobody was poking fun at her. Because it was too obvious, that it's just not common, but ordinary family name, or okay! an unfortunate pun. And even I got this double meaning just many years after our graduation! We simply never thought about that :smt102

And I'm sorry, but this nurse has passed away, so I'm not sure it's an appropriate subject for discussion...
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by Castorero » Wed Apr 10, 2013 2:13 am

CD wrote:
patter wrote:We have one these reports as well. Up north, in a C185. He hadn't texted for several minutes but texting, was heavily implicated with charts and all.
Aviation Investigation Report A11W0180
Controlled flight into terrain
Trek Aerial Surveys
Cessna 185E C–FXJN
Fort St. John, British Columbia, 12 nm E
30 November 2011
While texting occurred during this flight, it had not taken place "for several Minutes" before the accident.

It seems that there is some axe grinding going on here to belabor a point that needs repeating in order to reduce distraction in the cockpit.

Nowhere in this report is there any mention of the long duty day and the effect of fatigue as a possible contributing factor.
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by Meatservo » Wed Apr 10, 2013 8:00 am

I would think that I am the most likely person to come on here and start talking about you kids and your constant texting and how it's getting out of hand, I really believe it is a problem and it needs to be addressed, somehow, like making it socially inexcusable to indulge in personal texting in the cockpit of an aircraft which is in flight, (or at the dinner table frankly), BUT:

Even I am compelled to say in this case that no matter how hard you try not to succumb to the urge to send OMFGs and LOLs to your followers on Twitter or whatever, it's not gonna make a helicopter fly any better with NO FUEL in it!!!
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by grimey » Thu Apr 11, 2013 5:21 pm

Meatservo wrote: Even I am compelled to say in this case that no matter how hard you try not to succumb to the urge to send OMFGs and LOLs to your followers on Twitter or whatever, it's not gonna make a helicopter fly any better with NO FUEL in it!!!
yea, the texting in this case seems to be more of a symptom than the cause.
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by Rowdy » Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:58 pm

The regulator must simply be gearing up to put out some ridiculous regs on the use of handheld devices in flight. Or divert attention from the REAL problems that need addressing. Like the continuing degredation of the industry. Insanely silly duty days and the like.
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by teacher » Sun Apr 14, 2013 6:42 pm

Rowdy wrote:The regulator must simply be gearing up to put out some ridiculous regs on the use of handheld devices in flight. Or divert attention from the REAL problems that need addressing. Like the continuing degredation of the industry. Insanely silly duty days and the like.

Already being seen.
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by frozen solid » Mon Apr 15, 2013 2:37 pm

teacher wrote:
Rowdy wrote:The regulator must simply be gearing up to put out some ridiculous regs on the use of handheld devices in flight. Or divert attention from the REAL problems that need addressing. Like the continuing degredation of the industry. Insanely silly duty days and the like.

Already being seen.
I would have to argue that the degradation of our industry is well represented by people who think that chatting with their friends on their text-message devices while operating an aircraft is consistent with professional behaviour.
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by trey kule » Wed Apr 17, 2013 1:14 am

I think you are spot on Rowdy
. There were so many holes in the Swiss cheese here.
However, wilfully adding non essential distractions to a flight is not a sign of professionalism at best, and at worst a contributing cause. The " I can multi task so well" crowd will continue to believe that right up until they have an accident, and the rest of the group just won't think the lesson should apply to them.
So while I can't really see the connection in this case, I agree that the regulator may be gearing up to make more regulations to try and save pilots from themselves.
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by Rowdy » Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:54 pm

Texting with friends while in a critical phase of flight is just dumb. Using a handheld device (no different than a gps, comm or anything else in the cockpit that takes your focus) appropriately should not be unnaceptable.

Now, banning handheld devices from the cockpit is very much a knee jerk reaction (but most likely what is going to happen). I dont think it is the best means. As an example I check the WX webcams, Metars/TAF's/pireps and communicate with ops while operating here on the coast. I am by no means a stellar pilot or any better than the rest and I'm still capable enough to do this, although, I am responsible enough to know when to do it and when not to. There have been numerous occasions where this has actually increased awareness, safety and promoted positive coordination with flight services and ops. Including one recent vhf com failure.

Now.. dont we already have some regulations that stipulate sterile cockpit in critical phases? Perhaps that should be emphasized in company indoc/reccurent training and in initial CPL training???
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by beaverbob » Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:15 pm

Would be unenforceable in any case. I have never seen an areal traffic cop looking in my cockpit as he/she flew by!
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by trey kule » Fri Apr 19, 2013 5:06 am

No, but lets look a bit deeper. If a regulation should say, for example, cell phone usage only in emergency, or in non critical phases of flight for operational reasons.......
And you taxii onto a live runway and After the accident it is found you made four personal texts to your girlfriend asking what he was wearing........it would be very enforceable

The media, politicians, and of course TC senior management who are looking for more money, all have given the impression that enforcement is proactive. It is typically not. Enforcement comes after the accident as a rule. Because you get away with something is not reason to believe that if you hurt someone or bend some metal, you will not be caught if something happens.

The problem there is the self assessed super pilots who think flying is so mundane they can load themselves up with non essential additional distractions will continue to delude themselves until one day they are unlucky.....and then, of course, they will feel bad, and take the opportunity to celebrate their error as a learning experience.

We all talk about making flying as safe as possible....at least as long as it does not interfere with our personal interests. One of the major accident situations now is runway incursions and ground taxiing.
Read the accident reports as to how many times one crew had their head down doing FMCS input, or paperwork....or talking on the phone.
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by xsbank » Fri Apr 19, 2013 5:29 am

The first thing insurance companies do in a car crash is subpoena the driver's cell phone records. Are ya feelin lucky, punk? Drive your car around with no insurance? Try death and destruction and then add bankruptcy to ice the cake. Might as well tattoo "MORON" on your own forehead.
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by CD » Sat Apr 20, 2013 12:46 pm

As we discussed in a similar discussion earlier, the FAA tried through advisory material to get the message out and then in January, introduced a proposed regulation to try and impose common sense... :smt102

FAA SAFO 09003 - Cellular Phone Usage on the Flight Deck
FAA NPRM - Docket No. FAA–2012–0929 - Prohibition on Personal Use of Electronic Devices on the Flight Deck - January 15, 2013
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by 5x5 » Sat Apr 20, 2013 2:23 pm

Rowdy wrote:Texting with friends while in a critical phase of flight is just dumb. Using a handheld device (no different than a gps, comm or anything else in the cockpit that takes your focus) appropriately should not be unnaceptable.
I'm not sure that's entirely correct. There are other things that need to be done as part of your task of flying. Using a GPS, a comm radio or an autopilot require the interface of hand and mind, BUT they are integral to and part of what you are trying to achieve. They fit in the flow.

While using a cell phone to text or call has the same physical entanglement and outwardly seems to be the same, the activity it is supporting is non-related to the task of flying. That is where the distraction comes from. Your mind has to leave the task of flying and concentrate on whatever extraneous thing it is your texting/calling about.

There really is no such thing as multi-tasking, it's actually fractured tasking. You do a number of things in slices interspersed with each other. The more widely divergent they are, the more distracting and the more difficult it is to complete each task successfully.

Cell phones are great for comm failure situations and for communicating on the ground, but I think they should be pretty much ignored during the flight itself.
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Re: Texting While Flying Linked to Commercial Crash - NTSB

Post by MacStork » Sat Apr 20, 2013 4:17 pm

For F#@K sake! Has this industry gone completely NUTS or is it just me?
We used CELL phones all the time in the Maldives for dispatch purposes.
We got new route and fuel requirements and PAX loads via text messages and it was a very reliable system!
We passed weather info via text messages. Every pilot was issued a company cell phone for this purpose and it worked very well. It is not like driving down a highway trying to text and drive at the same time.
We had really good cell coverage all over the Maldives, and we would lose our VHF com about 30 miles out of Male! This was a great system and to say that it would be a contributing factor in an accident is about the same as talking on the radio!
Where do they find these idiots?
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