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

Two pilots died when their Chinook went down last year working the wildfire detail, and investigators suspect that an iPad, dropped onto and jamming a pedal, led to the crash. iPads are often used to show technical info, weather data, maps and other useful data, especially in older and military craft that offer only basic instruments.

The Boeing CH-47D had been filling its bucket on a long line in the Salmon River on the afternoon of July 21, 2022, when it began spinning to the left. Eyewitness video captured the helicopter continuing its counterclockwise rotation as it descended and impacted the river just 13 seconds later. Although ground firefighters on scene quickly extracted the pilot, Thomas Hayes, 41, and co-pilot, Jared Bird, 36, from the water, both men ultimately died from their injuries. The NTSB has not yet released its final report on the accident, which will include its determination of probable cause. However, the newly opened public docket for the crash contains an "Exemplar Helicopter and iPad Examination Summary" that details how investigators established the source of damage on the flight crew's iPad, which was recovered from the river with three distinct gouge marks and a bend from the back of the case toward the screen.

Nightmarish: "According to investigators, the accident co-pilot's height was five feet, ten inches. During the study, with seat restraints on and seats adjusted for comfort, neither a slightly shorter (5'7") nor a slightly taller (6'2") man could reach the iPad in its jammed position."