Texting In Flight

While the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has long highlighted its safety concerns about texting while driving, the agency is turning its attention to texting while in flight.  NTSB made a series of recommendations last week covering the use of portable electronic devices aboard aircraft flown under Parts 135 (on-demand) and 91 Subpart K (fractional). 

The recommendations – including for an outright ban on “non-operational” use of PEDs for pilots while flying under 135 and 91K -- stemmed from its investigation of the Aug. 26, 2011 crash of an Air Methods Eurocopter AS350 B2 helicopter that was on an emergency medical services (EMS) mission.

That accident was the apparent results of fuel exhaustion and the pilot’s failure to properly enter autorotation after the engine flameout. But the safety board cites as a contributing factor the “pilot’s distracted attention due to personal texting during safety-critical ground and flight operations.”

Investigators discovered that the pilot texted while the helicopter was in flight, while the helicopter was being prepared for return to service and during a call with the company’s communication specialist to discuss a potential shortage of fuel. This, NTSB says, “was a self-induced distraction that took his attention away from his primary responsibility to ensure safe flight operations.” While NTSB did not find evidence that the pilot was texting at the time of the engine failure, his texting while airborne violated the company’s cell phone use policy.

Air Methods President Mike Allen says the company already begun instituting safety improvements as a result of the investigation. Although PED use in flight was already prohibited by company policy, Allen says, “since the accident, we have instituted a zero tolerance policy for use of cell phones during flight.”

Please or Register to post comments.

From The Archives

Aviation Week is approaching its 100th anniversary in 2016. In a series of blogs, our editors highlight editorial content from the magazine's long and rich history.

 

Jan 31, 2016
blog

Tupolev 104: Harsh Proof Of Rapid Soviet Progress (1956) 18

Since little detail was available of the Russian design and built Tupolev 104, a profile was compiled for Aviation Week, based entirely on observations from photographs, experts such as engineers knowledgeable in typical Russian aircraft design and of its landing at London Airport....More
Blog Archive
Penton Corporate

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×