The helicopter pilot who rescued 28 people in the deadly Queensland floods in January told an inquiry commission how they relied on an iPhone with Google Maps to navigate.
Pilot Mark Kempton made a statement to the Queensland Floods Commission recalling how his chopper arrived over shortly before 5pm that day and his crew were shocked at the sight of the brown water rushing beneath them, taking water tanks, trucks, boats and an airplane with it.
The flooded roads below rendered their maps useless and they were forced to improvise, using Google Maps on a crew member’s iPhone.
Kempton said rescuers could have done more if the helicopter had a better navigation system and had been upgraded to carry more fuel and had a better winch.
“There were still many people trapped on rooftops and it was extremely difficult to have to fly away and leave them to their fate,” Kempton said in the statement. The death toll was 17 people, with three missing presumed dead.
Most of the attention for iDevices in the cockpit has been on the iPad, which in the U.S. was recently approved by the Federal Aviation Association as a navigation device on some charter flights. The FAA gave thumbs’ up to Cincinnati- based Executive Jet, who said it made 250 flights as part of the certification process.
Pilots have been enthusiastic about the iPad and its ability to display radar and satellite weather maps in rich color, whether in the boardroom or on the ramp. The device can download and store charts, approach plates, taxi diagrams and checklists—or entertain passengers with an in-flight movie.