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updated: 4/9/2013 7:22 AM

NTSB probes case of texting helicopter pilot

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  • The wreckage of a helicopter that crashed near Mosby, Mo., on Aug. 26, 2011. The pilot of an emergency medical helicopter may have been distracted by text messages when he failed to refuel his helicopter and misjudged how far he could fly before running out of fuel.

      The wreckage of a helicopter that crashed near Mosby, Mo., on Aug. 26, 2011. The pilot of an emergency medical helicopter may have been distracted by text messages when he failed to refuel his helicopter and misjudged how far he could fly before running out of fuel.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Evidence gathered in an investigation of medical helicopter crash that killed four people has raised questions about whether the pilot was distracted by personal text messages when he failed to refuel the helicopter before taking off.

The Aug. 26, 2011, accident near Mosby, Mo., appears to be the first commercial aircraft accident investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board in which texting has been implicated. A hearing on the case is scheduled for Tuesday.

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NTSB documents show the pilot exchanged 20 text messages with an acquaintance over a span of less than two hours before the crash, including during flight.

The case underscores concerns the board has already expressed that use of cellphones and other distracting electronic devices has increasingly become a factor in accidents across all modes of transportation.

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