Distracted Flying Cited In Landing Accident

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Distracted flying has been cited in the dynamic rollover of a light helicopter in Ireland in July. The country’s Air Accidents Investigations Unit said the pilot of an Enstrom 280FX helicopter was landing on a beach near Ardfert when his cellphone, which was mounted on the control panel, rang. The pilot told investigators he glanced at the phone to see who was calling just as the skids settled into the soft sand. While he was looking at the phone, a gust of wind blew the aircraft sideways.

With one of the skids stuck in the soft, wet sand, the wind gust tilted the helicopter enough to initiate an unrecoverable dynamic rollover. The pilot told investigators that in a moment the helicopter was on its side, causing severe damage. The AAIU didn’t issue any recommendations but it did lecture pilots on the double-edged sword of taking personal electronic devices into the cockpit. “Many pilots now carry portable electronic devices (PEDs) such as mobile phones, tablets, GPS units in the cockpit; all of which may provide useful functions, but are also a potential source of distraction,” the report said. "Any distraction during landing can contribute to an upset unless a prompt intervention is initiated.”