National Transportation Safety Board
Aviation Accident Final Report

 

 

Location:

Chandler, AZ

Accident Number:

WPR13LA004A

Date & Time:

10/05/2012, 1407 MST

Registration:

N8115Q

Aircraft:

PIPER PA-28-161

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Defining Event:

Midair collision

Injuries:

2 None

Flight Conducted Under:

Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional

Analysis

During instructional flights with a flight instructor and a student pilot on board each airplane, a Piper Warrior and a Piper Arrow collided in midair during day visual meteorological conditions. The instructors reported that their students were simulating instrument conditions and were wearing view-limiting devices as they practiced instrument maneuvers.  Both flight instructors reported that they saw the other airplane only moments before the collision and were not aware of other aircraft in the area.

 

Neither airplane was using flight following services nor did they have any radar guidance during the flight. A review of recorded radar data for the area depicted two targets on a southwesterly heading, one ahead of the other. The targets were spaced about 2 miles apart and both were at 4,000 feet mean sea level. The rear target, the Arrow, changed its southwesterly heading to a westerly heading, and shortly after, the target identified as the Warrior started a wide right turn.  Both airplanes were flying toward each other when the Warrior’s right wing and the Arrow’s left wing collided.

After the collision, both airplanes subsequently made uneventful landings.

 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The failure of both flight instructors to see and avoid the other airplane while providing instrument flight training, which resulted in a midair collision.

Findings

Personnel issues

Monitoring other aircraft - Instructor/check pilot (Cause)

Factual Information

On October 5, 2012, about 1407 mountain standard time, a Piper PA-28-161, Warrior, N8115Q, and a Piper PA-28R-201, Arrow, N4184M, collided midair approximately 12 miles south of Chandler, Arizona. Both airplanes were being operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as local instructional flights. The Warrior was owned and operated by Chandler Air Service Inc., and the Arrow was owned by Aircraft Guaranty Corp., and operated by CAE Oxford Aviation Academy. Both airplanes had a certified flight instructor (CFI) and student pilot on board. No injuries were reported from either airplane.  The Warrior departed Chandler Municipal Airport (CHD), Chandler, Arizona about 1335. The Arrow departed Falcon Field Airport (FFZ), Mesa, Arizona about 1230. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for either airplane.

According to the flight instructor of the Arrow, he and the student pilot had just completed a non-directional beacon (NDB) interception exercise with the student wearing a view limiting devise. Shortly after, the flight instructor noticed a very close, fast-moving blurred object approaching from almost directly ahead. The object seemed to be in a left turn and was lower than his airplane. After the impact, the airplane yawed left and wing down. The flight instructor took control and stabilized the airplane.

The flight instructor of the Warrior reported that he had given his student pilot a simulated instrument clearance. The student was wearing a view limiting device. The flight instructor then saw an airplane directly ahead and slightly higher in altitude. He further stated that the airplane appeared to be in a slight left turn. He took the controls and made an abrupt nose down left turn prior to impacting the other airplane.

After the midair collision, the Warrior landed at Gila River Memorial Airport (34AZ), in Chandler, Arizona, with substantial damage to the right wing. The Arrow landed on the Volkswagen Group of America test track in Maricopa, Arizona, with substantial damage to its left wing and horizontal stabilator.

The Warrior’s right wing separated about 3-1/2 feet from the wing tip along with an outboard section of the right aileron. The aileron balance weight was not found during the examination.

The Arrow’s left wing was damaged outboard and adjacent to the wing fuel tank. About 14 inches of the leading edge structure was crushed to the main spar, and a portion of the Warrior’s wing remained within the structure. The Warrior's right wing tip protruded from the top and the bottom of the Arrow’s wing. The leading edge of the left horizontal stabilizer sustained impact damage.

Recorded radar data from the FAA's Phoenix Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) ARTS IIIA radar system was obtained and reviewed. Neither airplane was on flight following or had any radar guidance during the accident flights. Between 1405:39 and 1406:20, two radar beacon targets proceeded on a southwesterly track, one ahead of the other, about 6 miles northeast of the University of Arizona Maricopa Ag Center Airport (3AZ2). The targets were spaced about 2 miles apart, and both indicated mode C reported altitudes of 4,000 feet mean sea level. At 1406:25 the rear target, the Arrow, changed to a westerly heading, and 40 seconds later the forward target, the Warrior, began a right turn into the path of the rear target. At 1407:06 both targets merged and then separated. One target, the Warrior, then departed to the northeast, and then changed heading to the north, disappearing near Gila River Memorial Airport (34AZ). The other target, the Arrow, departed to the southwest, and disappeared from radar 2 miles east of 3AZ2. 

The Arrow was equipped with a Portable Collision Avoidance System (PCAS) unit capable of detecting and displaying range, bearing, and altitude information of transponder equipped aircraft in the vicinity of the unit. According to the flight instructor of the Arrow, the unit had alerted him twice during the flight but, did not alert him prior to the midair collision. The unit was sent to the National Transportation Safety Board Materials Laboratory for further examination. Its alert settings were set to a range of 3 nautical miles and a vertical range of 1,500 feet. The external speaker and headset interfaced audio tested properly, and no anomalies were noted with the unit. An examination report is contained in the public docket for this accident.

Neither pilot reported any preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

 

History of Flight

Maneuvering

Midair collision (Defining event)

 

 

Flight Instructor Information

Certificate:

Flight Instructor

Age:

53, Male

Airplane Rating(s):

Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land

Seat Occupied:

Right

Other Aircraft Rating(s):

None

Restraint Used:

Seatbelt, Shoulder harness

Instrument Rating(s):

Airplane

Second Pilot Present:

Yes

Instructor Rating(s):

Airplane Multi-engine; Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane

Toxicology Performed:

No

Medical Certification:

Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations

Last FAA Medical Exam:

03/26/2012

Occupational Pilot:

Yes

Last Flight Review or Equivalent:

09/21/2011

Flight Time:

15986 hours (Total, all aircraft), 4700 hours (Total, this make and model), 15820 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 74 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 30 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

 

 

Student Pilot Information

Certificate:

Private

Age:

25, Female

Airplane Rating(s):

Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land

Seat Occupied:

Left

Other Aircraft Rating(s):

None

Restraint Used:

Seatbelt, Shoulder harness

Instrument Rating(s):

None

Second Pilot Present:

Yes

Instructor Rating(s):

None

Toxicology Performed:

No

Medical Certification:

Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations

Last FAA Medical Exam:

06/30/2009

Occupational Pilot:

No

Last Flight Review or Equivalent:

06/02/2011

Flight Time:

179 hours (Total, all aircraft), 80 hours (Total, this make and model), 75 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 10 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 5 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

 

 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:

PIPER

Registration:

N8115Q

Model/Series:

PA-28-161

Aircraft Category:

Airplane

Year of Manufacture:

 

Amateur Built:

No

Airworthiness Certificate:

 

Serial Number:

28-8016121

Landing Gear Type:

Retractable - Tricycle

Seats:

4

Date/Type of Last Inspection:

08/29/2012, Annual

Certified Max Gross Wt.:

 

Time Since Last Inspection:

2027 Hours

Engines:

1 Reciprocating

Airframe Total Time:

3931 Hours at time of accident

Engine Manufacturer:

LYCOMING

ELT:

Installed, not activated

Engine Model/Series:

O-320 SERIES

Registered Owner:

TRIUMPH AVIATION LLC

Rated Power:

180 hp

Operator:

Chandler Air Service

Operating Certificate(s) Held:

None

Operator Does Business As:

Flight Training/Rental/Sales/Aerobatics/Tailwheel

Operator Designator Code:

 

 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:

Visual Conditions

Condition of Light:

Day

Observation Facility, Elevation:

KCHD, 1243 ft msl

Distance from Accident Site:

15 Nautical Miles

Observation Time:

1417 MST

Direction from Accident Site:

220°

Lowest Cloud Condition:

Clear

Visibility

30 Miles

Lowest Ceiling:

None

Visibility (RVR):

 

Wind Speed/Gusts:

Light and Variable /

Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:

/

Wind Direction:

Variable

Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:

/

Altimeter Setting:

29.91 inches Hg

Temperature/Dew Point:

32°C / 3°C

Precipitation and Obscuration:

No Obscuration; No Precipitation

Departure Point:

Chander, AZ (CHD)

Type of Flight Plan Filed:

None

Destination:

Chander, AZ (CHD)

Type of Clearance:

None

Departure Time:

1330 MST

Type of Airspace:

Class E

 

Airport Information

Airport:

Chandler Municipal Airport (CHD)

Runway Surface Type:

 

Airport Elevation:

1243 ft

Runway Surface Condition:

 

Runway Used:

 

IFR Approach:

 

Runway Length/Width:

 

VFR Approach/Landing:

 

 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:

2 None

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Passenger Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Fire:

None

Ground Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Explosion:

None

Total Injuries:

2 None

Latitude, Longitude:

33.103056, -112.054167 (est)

 


 


Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

Andrew L Swick

Report Date:

09/30/2013

Additional Participating Persons:

Vince Whiting; FAA-FSDO; Scottsdale, AZ

Steve Meisner; FAA-FSDO; Scottsdale, AZ

Charles Little; Piper Aircraft; Chino Hills, CA

Kerry David; CAE Global Academy; Mesa, AZ

Publish Date:

09/30/2013

Investigation Docket:

http://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms/search/dockList.cfm?mKey=85265