Jump to content

Cell Phones

Recommended Posts

So many questions.


#1. WHY couldn't he perform a simple auto to a big grass field when the engine quit? I mean, he must have been expecting it, caution light or no caution light. He knew he was REALLY low on fuel - I'd bet he was staring at that fuel guage the entire time. I would've been.


Let's be clear: This is not a case of "crashing while texting." The NTSB are only citing it as *one* of the causal factors. They're saying that before he ever took off he was preoccupied with setting up a dinner-date with his honey (at least it was a gal, we can be thankful for that) and he failed to do a proper preflight...during which he *would* have...might have...discovered that the helicopter had less fuel than it normally would have at the beginning of his shift. But apparently he did not discover this until he was underway on that patient-transfer trip. Oops!


Depending on when he realized his fuel state, he *could* have shut down, or turned around and went back to the airport from whence he just departed. Both options would have incurred a delay, of course, and *he* would have had to explain that - no blaming it on the med crew! So he pressed on...hoping...believing...praying...he had enough fuel to complete the mission.


The fact that there were no texts in the last 10 minutes or so of flight tell me that this guy was FINALLY concentrating on flying the helicopter. Too little, too late it seems. By that time his fate was sealed; he was not going to make the destination. Still, he *could* have landed the damn thing in an off-airport field and taken the heat. But stubborness or pride or whatever caused him to press on in his 32 minute flight with 30 minutes of fuel.


I know a guy who was flying a business jet from N.Y. to Bermuda who encountered a ripping headwind much, much stronger than forecast. He knew the fuel was going to be "tight" but he pressed on anyway. Not a lot of options that far from land. One engine flamed out on the taxiway after landing, the other quit just as he rolled into the parking spot. He got lucky. I've heard many other fuel "scare stories" in my life. You probably have too. Maybe you've lived one yourself.


"Texting" might not have caused this EMS Astar pilot to run that stop-sign and broadside that schoolbus...sorry, screw up the auto after the engine quit...but it figured in to some degree.


Personally, I think the larger issue was the pilot's preoccupation with the "date" he was trying to set up (and let's not be coy- we all know what was really on his mind and it wasn't the daily special at the Olive Garden) . His mind was obviously on other things, not flying. The texting was just a symptom of it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I myself would also say that all of this happened from a complete lack of ADM. The use of the cell phone falls under that, but, is not the prime cause of the accident. I'd venture to say, even without knowing him, that without a cell phone the pilot still lacked sound ADM if he is making calls like the ones he made on that fateful day.

Edited by superstallion6113
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my opinion…..

It would appear, all of the NTSB’s stated causal factors are “symptoms” of a bigger problem….

In a related article printed in this month’s Vertical Mag, Mike Allen, president of Air Methods, said, "We would like to thank the NTSB for their efforts on this matter. We appreciate their thoroughness, professionalism and transparency.” For me, this is simply placing blame and manipulating the transparency for which he claims.

Specifically, why did this pilot believe it was okay to be “texting” while in service? Why did this pilot believe it was okay to launch with less than the appropriate amount of fuel? Why did this pilot believe he could make it to his destination and not land when flame-out was eminent? Most importantly, why didn’t this pilot have the skill required to complete a successful auto, or at minimum, an auto to a survivable crash? IMO, these questions point to an organizational culture rather than a pilot who simply f’ed up. And, for Mr. Allen to make such a statement is a testament of that culture. The fact remains; AMC hired this pilot, trained this pilot, and approved him to operate company aircraft…..

While this opinion may seem objectionable to Mr. Allen and AMC, I can assure you, it’s not meant to be. I don’t work for them, or know their policies, procedures or training standards. It’s just an outside opinion generated by the recent articles written in various publications....

Edited by Spike
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

From a post I made in another forum-


All the holes in the swiss cheese lined up. A list:
Lack of sleep. (I would also wonder at the quality of sleep)
General fatigue, lots of travel and work.
Low time pilot, approx 2300 total, 1200 pic.
New to EMS, about 10 months.
Limited experience in airframe.
Multiple duty aircaft assigned with a mid-day swap into aircraft reconfigured from training set up.
Not home base.
Apparent unfamiliarity with area.
Apparent unfamiliarity with company assets and availability of support.
Abundant personal distractions. "Texting" is headlining this event because of the novelty. It does say something about mindset, but it's "Page 3" stuff.
A wide spread training issue (my opinion) in presentation of autorotational descents versus forced landings.


The industry as a whole relies on long term resident pilots with significant area knowledge, established skills and routines, witness the importance of quick reaction. The industry is reactive and paper-hungry when addressing issues because of this perception. Had this pilot a definite scheduled launch and a couple hours to flight plan, this most likely would never have occurred.

Edited by Wally
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What makes you think the pilot thought it was okay to do all the things he did? Where I work, we have a lot of rules. And we are expected to follow them. We don't have a culture of "that's a dumb rule, I'm going to ignore it." Most of the time HR and the training department do a pretty good job of weeding out the bad apples. But still some get through. I know the pilot that the accident pilot relieved. He specifically told the pilot the aircraft needed fuel. Other than doing it for him or witnessing it to make sure he does it, what the hell else are you supposed to do? You can't ride with him and tell him he better land since there's a good chance he's going to kill everyone because he's going to run out of gas and he's going to have a hell of a time pulling off an auto with this altitude and airspeed. Even if AMC had the absolute most screwed up, cowboy culture on the planet, I don't see how you could put this pilot's actions on anyone but himself.

Edited by helonorth
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it is convenient to blame an inanimate object as a cause of an accident. It all comes down to a distraction. It wouldn't matter if you pulled all the extra devices out of the cockpit, the user could still be distracted by a tree. It all comes down to focus. Pay attention to your primary task.

Aviate, navigate, communicate. It's not eat, talk, daydream.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The blame game is an easy game. Real easy…..

Was this a pilot error crash? Absolutely. However, these large organizations employ people who are paid large dollars to weed out the malcontents. In the end, it’s their responsibility to not let anyone “slip through the cracks”. Furthermore, by the facts at hand, it would appear this pilot ignored multiple rules, multiple times. Why is that? In my experience, it’s because no one called him on it. It’s either that or it was the prevailing culture of the organization. Additionally (and surprisingly no one has brought it up), what would have been the consequences of redirecting or landing? In this day and age of SMS with the integrated “just culture”, what would have resulted? Hazard report? Counseling statement? More than likely, the Donald Trump…… With that, how did the fear of being fired play into this incident?

In any helicopter organization, it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure the safety of flight. From the top down and at every step in-between. Secretaries, managers, fuelers, janitors, mechanics, admin, Presidents, VP’s, Pilots, medics, firefighters, coworkers, clients, cops, shooters, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…. Everyone is culpable... Blaming corrects nothing…..

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Notwithstanding the tragic loss of life these preventable type of accidents sure cost a lot of money.

Aviation accident attorney Gary C. Robb has obtained $8 million in settlements (Bever, et al. v. Estate of Freudenberg, Clay County, 11CY-10505; Tacoronte, et al. v. Estate of Freudenberg, Clay County, 11CY-CV10179) arising from a fatal helicopter crash in which the United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) identified texting as a contributing factor.

The crash of the LifeNet Eurocopter AS350 B2 near Mosby, Mo. on Aug. 26, 2011 killed four people: pilot James Freudenberg, flight nurse Randy Bever, paramedic Chris Frakes and patient Terry Tacoronte. In a public hearing held in Washington, D.C., last week, the NTSB concluded that Freudenberg was distracted by personal text messages when he took off without checking his fuel, then knowingly continued to fly with inadequate fuel (for more information, click here). Although the NTSB identified multiple factors that contributed to the crash, the texting aspect received the most play in the mainstream media.

Robb said that Air Methods, the operator of the aircraft, has paid $8 million for the deaths of Bever and Tacoronte. In a press release about the settlements, he stated, “Due to the nature of their missions, historically most fatal medical air ambulance helicopter crashes have occurred at night and/or in bad weather conditions. The fact that this crash occurred in daylight hours and in good weather underscores that it was an incident caused by poor judgment and decision-making at the most basic level. The public has a right to expect medical helicopter pilots and operators to make safety their highest priority, and to insure, at a minimum, the undivided attention of the pilot and operator.”
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...