Selfies may be to blame for a small plane crash in the US last year that killed a Punjabi-origin pilot and his only passenger, a Jalandhar-based musician from the troupe of singer Manmohan Waris, US investigators have found.
The plane crashed near Watkins City in Colorado state on a cloudy night last year, probably because the pilot had been taking pictures of himself and his passenger, with a flash, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the US has concluded.
“It is likely that cellphone use during the accident flight distracted the pilot and contributed to the development of spatial disorientation and subsequent loss of control,” it said in a report last week on the crash that killed the pilot, Amritpal Singh, 29, and his passenger, Jatinder Singh, 31. Investigators found no sign that anything was wrong with the plane, the New York Times has reported.
“Distractions from personal devices are in all modes of transportation — we’re seeing that more and more,” said Keith Holloway, a spokesman for the NTSB. “But self-photographs in an airplane; that’s something new for us,” said Holloway.
Amritpal had used a GoPro camera to record some short flights he made with different passengers aboard his two-seat Cessna 150, to and from Front Range Airport, east of Denver. He did not record the fatal trip on May 31, but did record one six-minute jaunt shortly before it.
“The GoPro recordings revealed that the pilot and various passengers were taking self-photographs with their cellphones and, during the night flight, using the camera’s flash function during the takeoff roll, initial climb and flight in the traffic pattern,” the report said.
The crash drew more attention in India, because Jatinder was a keyboard player for popular Punjabi singer Waris. Amritpal, who lived near Denver, was reportedly assisting Waris’s band with its American tour.
Distracted driving is a factor in more than 3,000 traffic deaths annually in the US, and about one-tenth of those involve cellphones, according to the US department of transportation.