iPad dropped on co-pilot's pedals implicated in fatal helicopter crash

Originally published at: iPad dropped on co-pilot's pedals implicated in fatal helicopter crash | Boing Boing


It seems like it would have been prudent to have some sort of arm attachment for the iPad, in the fashion they make supports for phones for your automobile dashboard. How tragic. :cry:


The machines are already out to kill us


sometimes they strap it to their knee.

but there are regs associated with these things.


Would such a device have to go through FAA approvals if attached to the aircraft, and how long would the process take?


I don’t know, but I think this incident ought to light a fire under somebody’s ass. :man_shrugging:


We all use iPads in the cockpit now. It’s totally routine. Single engine to airlines, they’re everywhere because there is now FAA approved iOS software that lightens the cockpit load.

As long as it’s not permanently affixed, you can use the iPad anyway you feel it’s safe. There are Ram suction cup mounts, yoke mounts, and as mentioned in other comments - knee boards. I use a knee board, and mine has never come loose from it. But I’ve also never been shoulder deep in a fire fighting situation in a Chinook. They may not have even been using the device - it could have been in a flight bag on the floor. There’s a lot of stuff rumbling around cockpits that should be made tight if it’s going to be turbulent.

This could just as easily have happened with a coffee cup or a lunch box. Just an unfortunately perfect fit for the iPad to jam in that particular place. Really a sad circumstance.


are helicopters more or less susceptible to this sort of accident than airplanes?

How long would FAA approval take? Think of a reasonable time. Now think of an unreasonable time. Now double that.


Helicopters require that you are hands on all controls all the time. When trimmed correctly airplanes will fly themselves for short stretches of time with minor corrections. Helos need absolute constant attention. A jammed / malfunctioning rudder is (obvious from this instance) disastrous.

I can fly a small airplane for six hours cross country and it’s a long day. Doing that in a helo would be utterly exhausting.


I used to work with a guy who was an ex-pilot of helicopters. I believe you.


Remember reading about a fighter co-pilot (the guy in the back seat) who dropped his clipboard, jamming the control column. I think they realized it just in time, though.

A friend of mine is a helicopter pilot and an Apple fanboi, so he was very keen on using his iPad in flight. He found that an iPad Mini fit nicely into the knee pocket of his flight suit where normally you’d keep a map. (The pocket has a window so you can just look at your knee and read the map/iPad).

In addition to that I’d say that functional rudder controls are far more critical for typical helicopter flying than for typical single engine plane flying. If you have some decent forward speed it’s entirely possible to keep a plane in the air indefinitely even with full rudder applied. (Unless it’s a wacky stunt plane with unusually large control surfaces on the rudder or something) In low speed helicopter maneuvering a non-functional rudder control will result in a spin pretty much immediately.

When I flew Cessnas I used a regular clipboard to hold my charts and checklists. I could imagine a clipboard getting jammed in a similar way.

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