A helicopter pilot was goofing off on FaceTime shortly before a fatal crash, according to a lawsuit filed by a surviving passenger.
The plaintiff, Jonathan Desouza, was getting a flying lesson from pilot Luis Aviles through Palm Beach Helicopters last December when things went horribly wrong. The helicopter crashed while Aviles was showing Desouza a simulated emergency situation that quickly turned into a real one. The lawsuit characterizes Aviles’ actions as “grossly negligent” and describes how he played around with his iPhone as he controlled the helicopter:
According to the suit, Aviles was playing around with his phone before the crash, FaceTiming when he should have been paying attention.
Now, this is Desouza’s word against a dead man’s, and nothing has been proven. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating, but says it could take over a year to determine why the crash went down. Its preliminary report doesn’t mention anything about the phone as a factor.
But pilots playing around with personal tech in the cockpit has been a problem for a while, and even though the FAA banned personal electronics in cockpits last year, it hasn’t stopped distracted flying tragedies from taking place. A few months ago, federal investigators discovered that the pilot of a small plane had crashed because he was distracted taking selfies and using his phone. [Palm Beach New Times]
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