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Texting a factor in fatal 2011 crash in British Columbia


Canadian investigators said that cell phone usage was a contributing factor in the crash of a Cessna Skywagon that killed its pilot in a remote corner of British Columbia last November. During the 75-minute flight, the pilot spent almost half an hour on the phone and replied to three text messages. By comparing cell phone data with the plane’s radar track, investigators found that each time the pilot made a call or sent a text, the plane descended as much as 1,000 feet. But the pilot didn’t use his phone in the last 11 minutes of the flight. Because the flight occurred at night, investigators suspect that the pilot may have been susceptible to night-flying illusions that make it challenging to judge proximity to terrain. The pilot was the only person on board the the Skywagon, and had already been flying for seven hours that day by the time of the crash, suggesting that fatigue could have also played a role.