Texting Linked to Deadly Commercial Aircraft Crash for First Time

For the first time, authorities have linked excessive texting to a deadly aircraft crash. In August 2011, James Freudenberg was piloting a LifeNet medical helicopter carrying a patient and two nurses when the craft ran out of gas and crashed, killing all on board. Authorities at the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board say that, the day of the crash, Freudenberg exchanged over 240 texts with a colleague, including many sent as he was prepping the helicopter for take-off and several as he was flying.

"It is easy to imagine that some of these interruptions could have led to forgetting of steps, including checking the fuel level, performing the preflight," said Bill Bramble, an NTSB aviation expert.

The NTSB also said that Freudenberg filed a false report about the levels of fuel aboard and, at one point during the flight, radioed that he 45 minutes of fuel left when only 30 minutes remained. The helicopter crashed in a field one mile from its destination.

Texting wasn't the only cause of the crash, authorities said. Fatigue was also an issue, with Freudenberg texting one of his colleagues that he hadn't slept much the night before the crash. Also a factor: Freudenberg's apparent inability to perform a flight maneuver called autorotation after he ran out of fuel. Either way, kids, the lesson here is obviously to never text before or while flying a helicopter.