It has been revealed that the pilot of a medical helicopter that crashed in 2011 may have been distracted by his cell phone.
The NTSB says phone records for the pilot show he sent multiple text messages just before the helicopter went down in a Missouri field. Original NTSB reports show the flight went down when they ran out of fuel.
The records show four texts were received and three were sent during the doomed flight. They also show that he had been texting during a previous flight.
Investigators say the pilot, James Freudenbert, was texting a co-worker to make dinner plans.
This is the first time that distractions from a mobile device are cited as a potential cause of a fatal commercial helicopter crash.
The crash killed four people including the Freudenbert, a paramedic, the flight nurse and the patient that was being transferred.
The helicopter was owned by Air Methods Corp. and was being operated under the name LifeNet. Air Methods has declined to comment on the investigation.
Reports show that Freudenbert had mentioned not getting much sleep the night before. This may have led to his forgetting to refill the craft before takeoff.
He realized the fuel level was low and had communicated with dispatchers that he was headed for fuel.
FAA regulations say a flight must have enough fuel to stay in the air up to 20 minutes longer than needed for the flight.