Pilot Was Texting Dinner Plans During Fatal Air Crash That Killed 4

helicopterIf you text and drive, you're not smart. Not at all. The message can't be any more clear that typing away on your cellphone while maneuvering through traffic is a terrible, possibly fatal, idea. But what if you place your life in someone else's hands and they're the one acting in a manner that's not smart? What if you're on a flight where the pilot is texting? Not much you can do, is there?

According to National Transportation Safety Board investigators, texting may have been the cause of a 2011 emergency helicopter crash that killed four people, marking the first time texting is the cause of an air crash. Pilot James Freudenbert apparently sent and received seven text messages during the flight, arranging dinner plans with a coworker. The helicopter crashed in Missouri after running out of fuel, and the NTSB suspects Freudenbert's distraction from texting is the cause.

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David Strayer, a psychology professor who has studied the distraction mobile devices can cause, gives talks on texing and driving, and he apparently asks drivers how they'd feel if they found out a pilot was making dinner plans while trying to land the plane. "Curiously enough, here is a situation in which that ludicrous example occurred," he said.

For many of us, flying is an awful thing. Not only can it be terrifying -- being thousands of feet up in the air -- we're entrusting our lives in the hands of someone we don't know and someone we can't see.

How many times have we heard stories recently of pilots who drank? And now this? Texting? Flying is a situation in which we're completely helpless. I'm not quite sure what measures should be taken to ensure pilots are completely sober (breathalyzer?), and undistracted (locking cellphones up in a box?), but something ought to be done. Texting and driving is pretty insane, but texting and flying is flat-out unacceptable.

What do you think of this?


Image via tobyotter/Flickr

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