Mid-air collision

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See also: Aerial ramming

A mid-air collision is an aviation accident in which two or more aircraft come into contact during flight. Owing to the relatively high velocities involved and any subsequent impact on the ground or sea, very severe damage or the total destruction of at least one of the aircraft involved usually results.

The potential for a mid-air collision is increased by miscommunication, mistrust, error in navigation, deviations from flight plans, and the lack of collision-avoidance systems. Although a rare occurrence due to the vastness of open space available, collisions often happen near or at airports, where large volume of aircraft and closer spacing compared to general flight is present.

First recorded mid air collision[edit]

Contemporary artist's impression of the first mid air collision, 1910

The first recorded collision between aircraft occurred at the "Milano Circuito Aereo Internazionale" meeting held between 24 September and 3 October 1910 in Milan, Italy. On 3 October René Thomas of France in an Antoinette monoplane collided with Captain Bertram Dickson of the British army in a Farman biplane by ramming him in the rear.[1] Both pilots survived but Dickson was so badly injured he never flew again.[2][3][4]

The first fatal collision occurred in Douai, France, on 19 June 1912. Captain Marcel Dubois and Lieutenant Albert Peignan of the French Army crashed into one another, killing both pilots.

Efforts to prevent military/civilian collisions in the United States[edit]

There are many types and causes of mid-air collisions. On some occasions, military aircraft conducting training flights inadvertently collide with civilian aircraft. Before 1958, civilian air traffic controllers guiding civilian flights and military controllers guiding military aircraft were both unaware of the other's aircraft.[citation needed]

The 1958 collision between United Airlines Flight 736 and a fighter jet, as well as another U.S. military/civilian crash one month later involving Capital Airlines Flight 300, hastened the signing of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 into law. The act created the Federal Aviation Agency (later renamed the Federal Aviation Administration), and provided unified control of airspace for both civil and military flights.

In 2005, as part of an effort to reduce such military/civilian mid-air collisions in U.S. airspace, the Air National Guard Flight Safety Division, led by Lt Col Edward Vaughan, used the Disruptive Solutions Process to create the See and Avoid web portal. In late 2006, the U.S. Defense Safety Oversight Council (DSOC) recognized and funded the site as its official civil/military midair collision prevention website, with participation by all the services.[citation needed]

List of notable civilian mid-air collisions[edit]

DateFatalities[N 1]Survivors[N 2]Flights involvedPhase of flightSite
1922Apr 770CGEA Farman F.60 / Daimler Hire Ltd. de Havilland DH.18ACruisePicardy, France
1938Aug 2445Two Japanese aircraft ?Ōmori, Tokyo, Japan
1942Oct 23122American Airlines Flight 28 / US Army B-34 flightAscent/descentChino Canyon, California, U.S.
1945Jul 12320Eastern Airlines Flight 45 / U.S. Army Air Force A-26 InvaderDescentFlorence, South Carolina, U.S.
1948April 5150British European Airways Vickers VC.1 Viking / Soviet Air Force flightApproachRAF Gatow, Berlin, Germany.
1948Jul 4390Scandinavian Airlines System DC-6 / RAF Avro YorkDescentNorthwood, London, UK
1949Feb 19140BEA Douglas Dakota / RAF Avro AnsonCruiseExhall, U.K.
1949Nov 1551Eastern Air Lines 537 / Lockheed P-38 test flightApproachWashington, D.C., U.S.
1951Apr 25430Cubana de Aviación 493 / US Navy flightCruise/climbKey West, Florida, U.S.
1952Jun 28260American Airlines Flight 910 / private Temco SwiftApproachDallas, Texas, USA
1954Apr 8370Trans-Canada Airlines Flight 9 / RCAF Harvard ?Moosejaw, Saskatchewan Canada
1955Jan 12150TWA flight / Private flightClimbBoone County, Kentucky, U.S.
1956Jun 301280UA Flight 718 / TWA Flight 2CruiseGrand Canyon, Arizona, U.S.
1958Apr 21490United Airlines Flight 736 / USAF F-100 Super SabreCruiseLas Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
1958May 20131Capital Airlines Flight 300 / Air National Guard flightDescentBrunswick, Maryland, U.S.
1958May 20311British European Airways Flight 142 / Italian Air Force F-86 Sabre flightDescentNear Anzio, Italy
1960Feb 25613Real Transportes Aéreos DC-3 / U.S. Navy R6D flightDescentRio de Janeiro, Brazil
1960Dec 161340UA Flight 826 / TWA Flight 266DescentNew York City, New York, U.S.
1963Feb 11040MEA Flight 265 / Turkish Air Force flightDescentAnkara, Turkey
1965Dec 44108TWA Flight 42 / Eastern Airlines Flight 853DescentCarmel, New York, U.S.
1967Mar 9260TWA Flight 553 / Private flightDescentUrbana, Ohio, U.S.
1967Jul 19820Piedmont Airlines Flight 22 / Lanseair Inc. flightClimb/descentHendersonville, North Carolina, U.S.
1969Sep 9820Allegheny Airlines Flight 853 / Private flightDescentFairland, Indiana, U.S.
1971Jun 6501Hughes Airwest Flight 706 / US Marines flightClimbSan Gabriel Mountains, California, U.S.
1971Jul 301621ANA Flight 58 / JASDF flightCruisenear Shizukuishi, Japan
1973Mar 568108Iberia Douglas DC-9  / Spantax Convair 990[5]Cruisenear Nantes, France
1974Aug 930RAF Phantom FGR2 / Piper Pawnee crop dusterLow levelFordham Fen, Norfolk, England, UK
1975Jan 9140Golden West Airlines Flight 261 / Private flightClimbnear Whittier, California, USA
1976Sep 9640Aeroflot Flight 31 / Aeroflot Flight 7957Cruisenear Anapa, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
1976Sep 101770BA Flight 476 / Inex-Adria Flight 550Cruisenear Zagreb, Croatia
1978Sep 251440PSA Flight 182 / Private flightDescentSan Diego, California, U.S.
1979Aug 111780Aeroflot 65816 / Aeroflot 65735CruiseDniprodzerzhynsk, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
1981Aug 24371Aeroflot Flight 811 / military aircraftCruiseZavitinsk, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
1985May 3940Aeroflot Flight SSSR-65856  / Soviet Air Force Antonov An-26DescentZolochev, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
1986Jun 18250Grand Canyon Airlines Flight 6  / Private helicopter flightLow levelGrand Canyon, U.S
1986Aug 31820Aeroméxico Flight 498 / Private flightDescent/climbCerritos, California, U.S.
1990Apr 927ASA Flight 2254 / Private flightClimb/descentGadsden, Alabama, U.S.
1992Dec 221572Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 1103 / Libyan Air Force MiG-23 FlightApproachTripoli, Libya
1993Feb 81330Iran Air Tours Tupolev Tu-154M / Iranian Air Force Sukhoi Su-24Climb/approachTehran, Iran
1993Nov 2640NZ Police Eagle / NZ Police traffic patrolLow levelAuckland, New Zealand
1996Nov 123490Saudia Flight 763 / Kazakhstan Airlines Flight 1907Climb/descentCharkhi Dadri, India
1997Jun 2503Mir  / Progress M-34OrbitOuter space
2002Jul 1710Bashkirian Airlines Flight 2937 / DHL Flight 611CruiseÜberlingen, Germany
2006Sep 291547[6]Gol Transportes Aéreos Flight 1907 / ExcelAire flightCruiseAmazon Rainforest, Brazil
2007Jul 2740KNXV-TV news helicopter / KTVK news helicopterLow levelPhoenix, Arizona
2007Sep 120Two Zlin Z-526Fs of the AZL ŻelaznyAerobatic displayNear Radom, Poland
2009Feb 1000Kosmos-2251 / Iridium 33OrbitOuter space
2009Aug 890Piper PA-32 / Eurocopter AS350 Tour HelicopterLow levelHudson River, New York, U.S.
2012Sep 203200Syrian Arab Airlines Flight RB-501 / military helicopterClimbDamascus, Syria

List of notable military mid-air collisions[edit]

XB-70 62-0207 following the mid-air collision on 8 June 1966.
DateFatalities[N 1]Survivors[N 2]Aircraft involvedSite
1940Sep 2904Two Avro Ansons of the RAAFBrocklesby, New South Wales, Australia
1943April 1480Two Bristol Beauforts of the RAAFAustralia
1943Dec 722[N 3]2Two U.S. Navy Douglas SBD Dauntlesses[7]near Pauwela, Maui, Hawaii, USA
1952Apr 4150USAF C-47 Skytrain / USAF C-124 Globemaster IIMobile, Alabama, USA
1953May 1534Two USAF C-119 Flying Boxcars / USAF F-84 Thunderjetnear Weinheim, Germany
1953Jan 15260RAF Vickers Valetta / RAF Avro LancasterMediterranean Sea near Sicily
1955Aug 11660Two USAF C-119 Flying Boxcarsnear Stuttgart, Germany
1958Feb 504USAF B-47 Stratojet / USAF F-86 SabreTybee Island, Georgia, USA
1958Mar 27180USAF C-119 Flying Boxcar / USAF C-124 Globemaster II[8]Bridgeport, Texas, USA
1965Jun 15180Two U.S. Army UH-1D IroquoisesFort Benning, Georgia, USA
1966Jan 1774USAF B-52G Stratofortress / USAF KC-135 StratotankerMediterranean Sea near Palomares, Almería
1966Jun 821XB-70 Valkyrie prototype / F-104 Starfighternear Barstow, California, USA
1983May 103Israeli Air Force F-15 Eagle / A-4 SkyhawkNegev, Israel
1985Jul 510Two A-4F Skyhawk aircraft of the Blue AngelsNiagara Falls, USA
1988Aug 2870[N 4]0Three Aermacchi MB-339PAN aircraft of the Frecce TricoloriRamstein Air Base, Germany
1989Sep 311Two Canadair CT-114 Tutor Snowbirds during the Canadian International Air ShowToronto, Ontario, Canada
1994Mar 2324[N 5]7F-16 Fighting Falcon / C-130 HerculesPope Air Force Base, North Carolina, USA
1996June 121810Two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters of the Australian SASTownsville, Australia
1996June 1968Two U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicoptersFort Campbell, Kentucky, USA
1997Feb 4730Two IAF Sikorsky CH-53 helicoptersShe'ar Yashuv, Israel
1997Sep 13330Luftwaffe Tu-154 / USAF C-141Namibia
2001Apr 1124USN Lockheed EP-3E / PLAN Shenyang J-8IISouth China Sea near Hainan Island, PRC
2002Nov 611Two MiG-29s of the Slovak Air Forcenear Spišská Nová Ves, Slovakia
2009Feb 1140Two Grob Tutors of the RAFPorthcawl, Wales, UK
2009Aug 1611Two Sukhoi Su-27s of the Russian KnightsMoscow, Russia
2009Oct 3090USCG C-130 / USMC Cobra HelicopterOff the coast of California, U.S.A
2014June 2321Learjet 35A / Eurofighter TyphoonOlsberg, Germany
2014August 1940Two Tornado fightersAscoli Piceno, Italy

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b All deaths directly attributable to the collision are counted as fatalities.
  2. ^ a b In general, only occupants of an aircraft directly involved in the mid-air collision are counted as survivors. Bystanders who received nonfatal or no injuries, such as airshow spectators, participants in a military exercise, occupants of nearby non-involved aircraft, and/or airport ground crew, are not included unless their involvement in the incident is particularly notable.
  3. ^ Includes 20 ground fatalities caused by detonation of bomb that fell from one aircraft as result of collision.
  4. ^ Fatalities include 3 pilots participating in airshow and 67 bystanders hit by debris, the latter including a pilot in a parked helicopter. Refer to main article.
  5. ^ All aircrew involved in initial collision survived; all fatalities occurred on the ground as result of debris and burning fuel. Refer to main article.
  1. ^ Villard, Henry Serrano (1 January 1968). CONTACT! The Story of the Early Birds Man's first decade of flight from Kitty Hawk to World War I. Thomas Y. Crowell Co. 
  2. ^ "Aeroplanes in Collision". Popular Mechanics: page 91. January 1911. 
  3. ^ "The Milan Aviation Meeting, Italy, 1910.". Science Museum Pictorial. Science and Society Picture Library. 1910. Retrieved 13 January 2011. 
  4. ^ "Continental Flight Meetings". Flight: page 828–829. 8 October 1910. ...the Antoinette monoplane crashed on to the biplane, both machines falling to earth a mass of broken planes and tangled wires. 
  5. ^ "1973: Mid-air collision kills 68". BBC. 5 March 1973. Retrieved 2011-07-02. 
  6. ^ http://www.aereo.jor.br/2010/05/24/sobrevivente-do-acidente-com-o-voo-1907-da-gol-rompe-silencio/
  7. ^ Gero 2010, pp. 26-27.
  8. ^ Gero 2010, p. 78.

External links[edit]