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  • 17

Report details final seconds before deadly F-16, Cessna crash

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F-16 pilot "warned" of traffic ahead before deadly collision with Cessna aircraft. (www.usatoday.com) עוד...

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linbb
linbb 3
Seems that if the pilot had done what was recommended there would have been no crash. Bad deal if you cannot see it and are closing turn is usually what is done not continue.
chrisrod1
George Rodrigues 2
Gentlemen, a post script on this discussion:

I went out to the airport this afternoon and sat in a Cessna 152 (same basic visibility as a Cessna 150) on the ground. I think I can say with little fear of contradiction that it is basically impossible for a pilot of such an aircraft to see higher left crossing traffic, even as close as 200' higher at any clock position lower than about 10:30. The pilot sits about 8"-10" almost directly under the center of left wing and has no visibility of higher traffic from about 7:00-9:30, although he can see traffic at the same altitude with difficulty and lower easily. From 9:30-10:30, the pitot tube, fuel tank vent tube, and especially the wing strut will partially mask side traffic at the same level and lower for the wing strut. After this exercise, I'm convinced that the Cessna 150 had no chance to see the F-16 except for a horrifying and mercifully brief split second glimpse just prior to impact. I am convinced that he had no chance for see and avoid. A sobering lesson...
abypilot
bobby davis 2
Wow, where to begin....? So much wrong about this. First off, my heart goes out to the family of the civilian pilot and his Father, and to Major Aaron Johnson who will live with this the rest of his life. I couldn't agree more with linbb in that a left turn to 180 when the controller advised MAY have prevented this. Depending on the speed of the F16 at the time and the ability to turn in a radius that would have taken him out of the collision course. However remaining at the same altitude instead of making an immediate climb with course change MAY have taken any chance of collision out of the equation or at least lowered the probability of collision. So easy to arm chair this one and none of us would want to be in either shoe. So tragic. I also agree with Scott that it appears the F16 was operating IFR single pilot in VFR conditions. If it had been actual IFR and IMC the likelihood of running into a slow mover us having this discussion for that matter would be near zero. I too am curious about collision avoidance in the F16, No TCAS or equivalent?
gearup328
Peter Steitz 1
I'll play devil's advocate here. If the F-16 was not in a turn to 180, what would have happened? Did the controller instruct a turn right into the Cessna? What about the 1000 foot vertical separation? If the F-16 was still at 1500 feet, as last reported, why did he run into a Cessna that was supposed to still be at 1400 feet?
preacher1
preacher1 1
To the best of anyone's knowledge, there was no com with the Cessna at all. As to what would have happened, it did. The 1000' and 1400' are kinda after the fact. They were either wrong or got gobbled up awfully quick.
KennyFlys
Ken Lane 1
I'm reading only a hundred feet vertical separation and 1000 feet lateral. The 100 feet is more at question given how accurately the Cessna's transponder was reporting.

I referred to that issue in a previous post along with questioning why the controller did not turn the F-16 away from the Cessna.
chrisrod1
George Rodrigues 1
Preacher, the Preliminary NTSB Report states for the last 3 minutes of the Cessna 150's flight, "For the duration of its flight, the pilot of the Cessna did not contact CHS approach control, nor was he required to do so." I have seen nothing to contradict that.

The only 1,000' separation reported by that report ("At 1100:54, the radar reported altitude of the F-16 remained at 1,500 feet and no valid altitude information was returned for the radar target associated with the Cessna. At that point the targets were laterally separated by about 1,000 feet.") or anywhere else I have seen was the lateral separation being closed over the about the last 3 seconds prior to impact. That sounds and calculates about right. The 1400' reported altitude reported 8 seconds prior to impact also appears to be correct (within the accuracy of the Cessna 150's Mode C transponder's allowable limit of error). The last 8 seconds of climb yields about an additional 50' ±100 foot instrument error, unfortunately in this case, = collision.

I am really uncomfortable with elements of the ATC system not complying strictly with procedures and mandatory instructions. It subjects me and everyone else in the air to unnecessary risk. Don't believe it? What's the result of this incident? They (we) have to get it right, VFR and IFR, or this could be us.

One additional general comment, I think in the future I will have my strobe on for enhanced visibility. Had the F-16 pilot located the Cessna at any point prior to the last several seconds, the damage probably would have been limited to underwear.
preacher1
preacher1 1
Well, George, all of this is after the fact and arguing is sorta pointless as all is "what if"anyway, BUT, IF the F16 would have turned when first notified after he did not see traffic, it would not have happened; IF ATC would have just told him to turn immediate without giving option, it probably wouldn't have happened, and if the 150 had not ventured over into the class C space, it probably wouldn't have happened. As you told Peter, end of story. I'm outa here for a nap.
chrisrod1
George Rodrigues 1
Preacher, your comments are spot on, with one possible exception. It was not reported nor does it appear that the Cessna 150 was ever in the CHS Class C airspace; a map review appears to show that departing runway 23 and immediately turning out and climbing on a heading of 110º, he remained several miles north of it. Had he wanted to penetrate the the Class C airspace, he would have had to have a Mode C transponder on (which he did) and have two way radio contact with Charleston Approach (which he didn't). The Preliminary NTSB Report states, "For the duration of its flight, the pilot of the Cessna did not contact CHS approach control, nor was he required to do so." A previous thread pretty well established that the collision occurred in Class F airspace outside of the CHS Class C airspace. Have a nice nap, sounds like a good idea to me...
chrisrod1
George Rodrigues 1
First answer: If the F-16 doesn't turn to 180, he probably missed it slightly. Probably upsets him somewhat with turbulence. I wouldn't want to face it. Good idea here, let's all just ignore ATC IFR traffic separation instructions and hope for a random, positive outcome. Why would you even bring that up? If the F-16 had executed the requested and required IMMEDIATE turn (How quickly can an F-16 execute a maximum performance 15º turn at, say 250 knots? 1-3 seconds?) According to the report (during about the last 20-21 seconds before impact), "Over the next 18 seconds, the track of the F-16 began turning southerly.". Not "... turned to 180.", but "... began turning southerly.". A maximum performance turn would have been over in no time flat. Sounds pretty unhurried to me; NOT IMMEDIATE. That is not necessarily true, but that's what it sounds like. The full NTSB and USAF investigations and conclusions will provide the final answers to those questions. As an aside, for the life of me, I can't understand why the controller didn't instruct the F-16 to climb to 2,000 ', as well. Two degrees of separation are always safer than one, if a little more disruptive; that's kind of the idea...

Second answer: No, the controller instructed an IMMEDIATE left turn to 180 if traffic was not in sight. Traffic was not in sight, so IMMEDIATE left turn to 180 was required. What does immediate mean to you? To me it means as fast as I can safely do it. In my Cessna 182, I would pull at least a 60º bank and turn as fast as I could without exceeding airframe limits or dynamically stalling the airplane. These are traffic separation instructions (literally collision avoidance ORDERS); not normal navigational instructions.

Third answer: For the third and last time, there was never 1,000 of vertical separation between the aircraft after about one minute into the Cessna 150's flight except for the brief moment when the Cessna 150 passed through 500' PERIOD. He was climbing steadily for a little over 3 minutes, continuously reducing the original ~1,400' of vertical separation between the Cessna 150 at take off and the F-16 steady at 1,500'. Read the report before replying again.

Fourth answer: Do you not understand precision and accuracy limits of aircraft pressure instruments, as reported as allowable error? It is typically ±100 feet for Mode C pressure sensors if checked in service. Anyone counting on any thing less than 200-300' margin for error is begging for dire consequences. Personally, anything less than 500' is unacceptable to me.

I think this exchange is over, Peter.
gearup328
Peter Steitz 1
Hey old preach--don't go away. The midair was not in class C. The outer tier is 1200 to 4000MSL. The inner tier is surface to 4000MSL. The fact that the Cessna didn't file a flight plan made it difficult for CHS approach to see and know what he was doing. They only had full control of the jet. Sorry, but I would NEVER fly around a known military base without talking to them. The uncontrolled Berkeley field is only 17NM from CHS VOR. What nav equipment did the Cessna have? How did he think he was out of class C? He was going to Myrtle Beach which is about a 060 heading from his departure. He was flying a course of approx 150? I guess he wanted to fly over to the coast and sight see then turn north east. What in Hell is a GA Cessna think he has a right to do? Well, under current rules, he was OK. Now he's dead. I feel badly for the family but I can't reverse what happened.
lynx318
lynx318 1
Is it a coincidence that there are so many Johnsons?
chrisrod1
George Rodrigues 1
Cessna close to a max climb heavily loaded should be about 60 knots or about 100 fps; F-16 (according to USAF) 200-250 knots or about 340-425 fps and slightly lower. Near right angle (actually 75º) lateral convergence that gives about a 355-435 fps convergence rate. First called by ATC at 2 miles or 10,560 feet or 24-30 seconds. Seems to me to plenty of time to see and avoid. We know the F-16 should not have been distracted as ATC had specifically called the traffic, although they may have been slightly off on the heading (initially ~11:30-11:45 converging to 12:00. Basically, straight ahead less than 300' below at 2 miles and climbing perhaps another 175' over the remaining time. Straight ahead
gearup328
Peter Steitz 1
George, love reading your posts. My thoughts keep coming back to the altitude that was reported by all parties. A 1000 foot separation was adequate. The F-16 was on a TACAN approach, in contact with CHS and in radar contact. What more do you want? The Cessna was VFR, cruising at any altitude under the floor and not talking to anybody. These mosquitoes are a problem. In this day and age, you must be in contact with the local ATC and advise. If you think you can just take off from a non towered airport and fly wherever you want......this is what happens. Too bad for the Cessna folks. I hope the families of both aircraft have a strong relationship.
chrisrod1
George Rodrigues 1
Peter, I have reread the Preliminary NTSB several times and I'm honestly having a hard time understanding the 1,000' vertical separation you have referred to several times. The F-16 was apparently stable at 1,500' (assigned 1600') and a stable course of 215º: The Cessna 150 took off fully or near fully loaded from MKS (elevation 73') and apparently immediately assumed a maximum climb of just under 400 fps on a stable course of 110º. The last time that there was 1,000' of vertical separation between the two aircraft was a little over a minute after the Cessna 150 took off and about two minutes prior to the collision. The aircraft were converging vertically CONTINUOUSLY for the entire just over 3 minutes between take off and collision. At ~37 seconds before the collision, the Cessna 150's reported altitude was 1200', just 300' lower than the F-16. At ~6 seconds prior to collision, the Cessna 150's reported altitude was 1,400', just 100' below the F-16, with1/2 mile separation. I don't know the radar reporting delay, if any, but these are best case numbers. Well, 6 seconds at ~400 fps closing speed, that's about 1/2 mile'; we all know the result.

I believe that you may have misread the report. The only reference I find in the Preliminary NTSB Report to 1,000' separation is LATERAL. I quote from the report, "At 1100:54, the radar reported altitude of the F-16 remained at 1,500 feet and no valid altitude information was returned for the radar target associated with the Cessna. At that point the targets were laterally separated by about 1,000 feet." Within several seconds, the collision occurred. What am I missing? Is there a reference to 1,000' vertical separation I am missing somewhere.

Now, for the "mosquito" thing: To me, the IFR fast movers and heavy iron (or for that matter, any IFR) are a problem if they and ATC aren't playing well with each other or the VFR traffic. It's called positive aircraft separation and it's the legal responsibility of the ATC and the IFR pilot. I fly a fully FAA certified Cessna 182, just like the fully FAA certified Cessna 150 that got run over in this collision. They were flying fully legally in conformance with the FAR's and responsibly in appropriate airspace( apparently, at this point) . Give the 3X faster F-16's near right angle crossing traffic above the Cessna, I'm confident that investigation analysis will show that it would have been very difficult for the Cessna 150 pilot to see the F-16, who would have been above and to the left, starting at about the Cessna 150's 9:30 and staying above or just in front of the leading edge of his high left wing as convergence brought the F-16 to 9:00 at impact. Yes, that's what ATC flight following is great for., but it is not alway available; I have been refused (occasionally) from there, from Savannah Approach, from Beauford Approach, from Augusta Approach (during the Masters), and (frequently) from Atlanta Approach. It's only available at ATC's discretion and sometimes they're just too busy. I'm not going to fight that fight; I use it when it's available because I don't want someone else's (in this case, apparently two someone else's) major screw ups to kill me. But the FAR's don't require it, ATC is not resourced to flight follow all VFR flights, and we all (VFR AND IFR) better be competent to fly safely without all VFR traffic having and using it. The heavy iron and fast movers had better be able to deal with VFR traffic, with or without ATC flight following, as required by the FAR's, or be prepared to deal with the legal consequences, which, in this case, may be quite severe. And, no, this isn't what happens when you take off from a non-towered field and fly wherever you want to. Check it out, the last military/civilian collision was 10 years ago. This is what happens when two highly trained and certified individuals involved in IFR operation utterly fail to discharge their responsibilities properly. Too bad for the ATC controller and the F-16 pilot. Someone may be wearing orange.

It's an old (not very funny right now) joke. What do a pilot and an ATC controller have in common:
If the pilot screws up, the pilot dies.
If the ATC controller screws up, the pilot dies.

I don't particularly want to be that pilot.
preacher1
preacher1 1
George, I am not going to argue the mosquito thing either, BUT, right or wrong, the F16 was in class C Airspace and the Cessna driver got in it. No trouble here with VFR; just wrong place at wrong time. Just like a 4 lane hiway and somebody jumps the median and we have a head on. They not supposed to, but it happens for various reasons. That is why we all time supposed to be looking.
gearup328
Peter Steitz 1
George, better you take your argument to the FAA and AOPA. I have well over 10,000 hours in more than 4 types. The military does not have types for fighters and others, so I actually have more than that. There were omissions in this accident on both sides. Let it go.
As I previously posted---all commercial jets and even turboprops can fly at speeds well above a Cessna. The Cessna was totally out of touch with anybody. The fighter was in total touch with CHS and being vectored. This Cessna came in out of nowhere. He was in the way of an aircraft on an approved approach and under full radar and voice contact. If the Cessna had tuned in CHS approach, they could have told the Cessna to not cross the path of an aircraft obeying all the rules and just like I said before---this could have been me in my scheduled, IFR clearance, commercial airplane with passengers and no ejection seat. I have flown into CHS many times and there for the grace of God, this didn't happen to me.
I'll raise an issue I have with ATC. They will routinely ask you if you have the airport in sight. If you agree--you are on your own. I never said "airport in sight" until the final approach and I felt I would make a safe landing and had clearance from tower or announced to CTAF.
George---Over and out--no more discussion. Have a safe and happy flying career.
preacher1
preacher1 2
I personally hope that your argument is over, but it probably isn't. I have a little past double your time on about 6 different Aircraft, mostly civilian big iron. That said, there will always be a disagreement between GA and big iron. Most folks on GA don't contact ATC and unless a cross country or something, won't even file a flight pan, where it is a way of life on big iron, regardless of what FAR you fly under. All that said, and while having been into CHS a time or 2, I'm not that familiar with it. From the report I just draw a couple of conclusions: The main one is that for whatever reason it appears the 150 strayed over in controlled airspace and ATC saw him in there. The F16 was on a controlled approach. The main thing I see here was that ATC did not issue an IMMEDIATE TURN on the first call. My 2cts and I'm outa here
chrisrod1
George Rodrigues 1
Pete,

I respectfully ask that you check out the information at the following link: (http://www.pilotworkshop.com/tips/flight_plan_advisories.htm). I have verified it independently with the appropriate FAA resources (local and center ATC facility management, a respected operations inspector at local FSDO, manager at regional FSS, and several different very experienced and well regarded CFI's with combined experience of >100 years). Perhaps a little more such research when you post will, in the future, help prevent from posting incorrect and potentially dangerous information. VFR flight plans add nothing to air traffic control traffic separation functions or in-flight safety. They only facilitate helping search and rescue find the wreckage and casualties-PERIOD! And again, I agree that ATC flight following, when available is always advisable for VFR cross country flight.
gearup328
Peter Steitz 1
George, you are being a bit abrasive here. It sounds like you don't like planes that can fly 250 below 10000. As I previously said, commercial aircraft--be it a Cessna Citation or an ERJ-170 routinely fly at speeds around 150 to 175 when being vectored for an approach. Forget that it was an F-16. That pilot has twice the responsibility to see and avoid as would a commercial jet with two crew and 4 eyes and in radar and voice contact with approach control. This accident could have easily been avoided if the Cessna listened to CHS or filed a flight plan for his destination with cruising altitude and route. Not only this terrible midair but if the Cessna had a problem, he would be instantly in contact with help.
chrisrod1
George Rodrigues 1
Peter,

I was not being abrasive at all, but I'm about to be. I have repeatedly agreed with your repeated insistence that VFR flight following with ATC is an excellent safety tool with many safety advantages and that I personally ALWAYS use it WHEN AVAILABLE, WHICH IS NOT ALWAYS. I do not agree that you should never fly VFR without it, NOR DOES THE FAA OR NTSB. IT IS NOT REQUIRED BY THE FAR'S AND, QUITE FRANKLY, IF YOU CAN'T FLY VFR WITHOUT IT, YOU'RE PROBABLY NOT COMPETENT ENOUGH TO FLY AT ALL! Nor do I agree faster, heavier IFR traffic should be allowed to blast blindly around in the VMC sky, ploughing over any VFR "mosquitoes" unfortunate enough to get in their path. In addition, I have to ask, have you ever heard of either NORDO or no transponder in Class F airspace; both legal and even necessary for some aircraft. Is that abrasive enough for you?


Remember flight training 101, Peter? Under or unpowered traffic has the right of way over higher powered traffic? Lower traffic has the right of way over higher traffic? STILL ALWAYS TRUE IN VMC!! See and avoid? ALWAYS TRUE IN VMC FOR EVERYONE, INCLUDING IFR TRAFFIC!!! Nothing wrong with aircraft below 10,000' going 250 knots VFR, but they need to understand and practice their responsibility to SEE AND AVOID, ESPECIALLY IN VMC!! You just seem determined to pin this one on the Cessna 150 pilot's failure to use flight following and hold the controller and the F-16 pilot blameless, no matter what!

I wrote my last post because I fly an aircraft with similar visibility to the Cessna 150 and I wanted to see first hand what the Cessna 150 pilot would have seen. All aircraft have visual blind spots where traffic can approach them unseen and I wanted to verify whether or not this was true for this instance in a Cessna 150 for higher converging traffic in the particular geometry of this accident. My observations confirmed my hypothesis; the higher traffic would have extremely difficult to impossible for the Cessna 150 pilot to see. He had to count on higher crossing VFR traffic approaching in those blind spots to successfully practice see and avoid (a reasonable, if not as positive, protection given the geometry and frontal visibility for higher, crossing traffic) and the same visual see and avoid from IFR traffic in his blind spots, in addition to their positive IFR separation. This is required (for the IFR traffic) by the FAR's. Of course, low winged aircraft have corresponding blind spots to lower crossing climbing traffic. These blind spots makes the slower aircraft particularly vulnerable.

The Cessna pilot had general see and avoid responsibilities, although that was extremely difficult to impossible in this particular geometry to perform due to wing and structural obscuration and interception angle. The F-16 pilot, on the other hand, was sitting in arguably one of the best visual aerial observation platforms on the planet with the slower crossing traffic almost straight ahead and 2 miles or less away. He failed to visually detect the traffic (which should have been clearly visible given the geometry), even after it was pointed out by ATC! Then he failed to follow a relatively unambiguous conditional instruction to turn if he didn't have the traffic in sight (he neither had the traffic in sight nor turned). Further, even after the ATC controller gave him a second turn ORDER, which was clearly collision avoidance instructions which included the word "immediate", he undertook an unhurried correction in course (from the NTSB Preliminary Report describes as "Over the next 18 seconds, the track of the F-16 began turning southerly."). Pilot in Commend is responsible for the safety of his flight PERIOD. I feel badly for him, but unless the respective NTSB and USAF investigations show some pre-existing and substantial mitigating circumstances (in-flight failure, emergency, etc) which did not even merit mention in the NTSB Preliminary Report, he's failed in his legal duties as a pilot and is substantially at fault for this accident and its consequences. It's called a Preliminary Report for a reason, but would take HIGHLY unusual subsequent factors to change culpability.

The ATC controller was probably properly performing his duties properly right up until he failed understand that he had an extremely probable imminent collision (indicated by course, and altitude, and, probably, electronic alarms on his ATC tracking equipment) for converging traffic, all of which were obviously accurate, and failed to order DRASTIC EMERGENCY separation instructions to the F-16. After his first instruction was ignored, he should have been issuing EXTREMELY CLEAR and EMPHATIC EMERGENCY ORDERS to the F-16 pilot for EMERGENCY TURN AND CLIMB. He failed in his legal duties to provide positive traffic separation service to the F-16 pilot even given that pilot's unsatisfactory performance. Unless the results of the full NTSB investigation uncovers some important factors and/or circumstances unknown and unreported in the NTSB Preliminary Report, the ATC controller seriously failed in his legal duties and job performance and will be found to be substantially at fault for this accident and its consequences.

Now my "take away" from this is STILL to use ATC flight following WHENEVER AVAILABLE. Now, I think I'll also use my position tail strobe in the daytime as well as night. Really might have made a difference in this accident. As far as flying VFR in the same airspace with fast, heavy iron unwilling or unable to comply with MANDATORY VMC see and avoid practices or IFR traffic flown by pilots unwilling to follow ATC mandatory traffic separation (collision avoidance) or guided by controllers unable to convey the impending gravity of the convergence, I'll just have to take my chances and be extra aware and observant that such IFR traffic and controllers exist. I may have to share VMC with IFR pilots willing to fly 50/50 see and avoid in VMC or controllers who don't understand the concept of imminent convergence (collision), but I ain't going to hide quaking in the hanger...

OVER AND OUT!
preacher1
preacher1 1
Well, F-16 did start turn late BUT, traffic apparently was not 1400'below the F16 and just showed up
linbb
linbb 1
Read your take on it as I only flew around Seattle a limited amount in later years. Impossible in clear weather to pick out all of the other traffic. Didn't like it one bit even flight following didn't help. Closest one was in eastern WA at about 1000ft agl had a twin come across about 1/4 mi or less at 90 degrees and exactly at my level. Seems still when I was told to move by ATC I did the few times requested then and answered as I was doing it.
dmohr1
dmohr1 1
Traffic was reported AT 1,400 feet, not 1,400 feet below. I guess the F-16 did not have TCAS.
DSchultz101
Dustin Schultz 2
You can correct me if I’m wrong, but TCAS needs to interrogate a transponder for the system to work. The pilot of the 152 could have forgotten to turn the transponder on ALT or maybe a transponder was not even installed. The 152 was operating in Class E airspace. Unless he was in Class C, flying over Class C, or above 10000MSL, then he was not required to have a transponder installed. However, if he had an operable transponder on the airplane, he must have used it.
KennyFlys
Ken Lane 1
The NTSB report indicated an altitude report from the 150 which means it was equipped with an altitude-encoding transponder. That's where they got the "1400 feet".
preacher1
preacher1 1
Hate to rain on your parade but her is the quote from the story:
"The F-16 did begin to turn, the report said. Seconds later, the controller advised the F-16 pilot, "traffic passing below you 1,400 feet." Less than a minute later, the F-16 pilot transmitted a distress call "and no subsequent transmissions were received."
dmohr1
dmohr1 2
If I remember correctly, you're a commercial pilot like myself. When has ATC ever called traffic in feet relative to your altitude? It's always the exact altitude of the traffic. Here was the prior call: "traffic 12 o'clock, 2 miles, opposite direction, 1,200 INDICATED, type unknown.". If the traffic had been 1'400 below the F-16, it would have been on the ground down here in CHS. I'm guessing F-16 was cruising about 1'600 feet based on the altitude of the approach he was likely being vectored for (ILS 15)
preacher1
preacher1 1
Well, I saw that and wondered about it. I may be mistaken but I was thinking that the F16 was already doing these IFR's. Where did the Cessna come from? TCAS wouldn't work except off another transponder and I'm like Scott here. Unless the military has something different, not sure about the single pilot IFR, but it all goes back to one thing in my mind. F16 was cleared and under control of ATC. Somebody cleared the Cessna off the ground.
linbb
linbb 1
That was another thing was wondering about due to where it took place, how far out was the F16 as there rate of decent on glide slope should be the same as an airliner,correct???
mk882004
Matt Kladder 1
The Cessna was not necessarily cleared off the ground. if they departed from an uncontrolled airport, and flew that low, they very well could have been below radar coverage. The Cessna obviously wasn't taking to ATC, because of the altitude indicated statement, so they were outside of C or B airspace.
preacher1
preacher1 2
I can kinda agree with all that except the part about radar coverage. They may not have been talking to ATC but they were apparently on radar or no traffic warning would have been given. If the F16 was on a true approach for the runway and under ATC control, the Cessna blundered into something. I also read the comment up top from the former military pilot, Dudley Johnston, and that throws even more into this mix. According to him, the F16 wasn't blameless. Point is, they are crashed and some are dead but it don't seem like any heroes or nobility awards are coming out of this one.
preacher1
preacher1 1
Didn't the F16 acknowledge 2 miles. If he had broke off and started his turn earlier, would we even be having this conversation.
gearup328
Peter Steitz 1
George, after dissecting this event with surgeon's tools, you are correct in that the Cessna never was in class C airspace. CHS class C only goes out 10NM, 1200 to 4000 MSL from the VORTAC. The wreckage was along Old US Road 52 and the West branch of the Cooper river in some plantation that I can't locate on Google but was outside of class C. The local news reported it as 25 miles north of Charleston proper which is maybe 10 miles SE of the airport and the VORTAC.
At 1100:18 the Cessna was reported to the F-16 as being at 1200 feet MSL (that's where I got the vertical separation in earlier posts where I thought the Cessna had leveled off). The Cessna evidently continued a climb to 1400 MSL and may have still been climbing--who knows, he was not talking to anybody not even flight following--stupid. It was said he was going to Grand Strand, (CRE) North Myrtle Beach. I guess this came from family or someone at his departure at Berkley County MKS) airport because a flight plan was not filed.
I'll say again---file a flightplan. You can always change it. If you go down, at least someone will know your intentions. What would you do as an ATC controller not knowing what this Cessna is going to do? Be in radio contact with everybody. If the Cessna had contacted CHS approach and stated their passing route and altitude, this would never have happened. It's just a courtesy. The F-16 relied too much on ATC here just like I did flying 14CFR part 121 passengers into and out of this joint military and civilian airport. My God, this could have been me!! This was a good preliminary NTSB report but all the facts will still have to be sorted out.
chrisrod1
George Rodrigues 1
Peter, thank you for the verification; a cross check is always useful. Well, the NTSB report had a report radar return on the Cessna at 1,400 at 1100:49. I am assuming impact at 1100:55; calculations could support a couple of seconds variation and we don't know what, if any radar delays are present. I am assuming negligible for a mission critical Air Traffic Control system. Another 6 second of climb would put him another 30-40' higher. Unfortunately, the results confirm the calculations or vise versa.

I still fail to see much utility here in a VFR flight plan. ATC doesn't use them for anything I know of except after the fact to resolve ELT transmissions and look for crash sites; nothing during actual VFR flight operations. I just verified that with Anderson Flight Service Station and ATC doesn't even find out about them unless there is a potential Search and Rescue need (including an unclosed flight plan). If you fail to close one (and things often do get hectic at the end of a flight), it's an inordinate amount of trouble with the FAA. I use ATC flight following whenever available, have an operable 121.5 MHz ELT, carry a 121.5/243.0 MHz GPS-capable PLB whenever I fly. If I make a long (think >500 miles) cross country, I may consider filing the a VFR flight plan, but it doesn't buy me much except the potential for problems with the Feds. In the case at hand, a VFR flight plan would contributed ZERO benefit IMHO. BTW, I'm guessing a rented Cessna 150, so FBO at MKS would have known the destination.

The ATC controller had no duty to the Cessna 150, nor (I assume) was any expected by its pilot. The controller DID have a ABSOLUTE responsibility to the IFR F-16 pilot flying in VMC to provide POSITIVE traffic separation service. What the detected, but unidentified as to type and intentions, traffic (the Cessna 150) represented to the controller was a THREAT to the F-16 under his control to be positively managed with positive separation. He obviously failed badly. Was the controller overloaded at the time? That will come out later, but not mentioned in the preliminary report, something that I would have thought would be immediately known and relevant.

Pete, let me play devil's advocate: Suppose the Cessna 150 had requested flight following and was denied by ATC due to traffic load; it happens frequently, depending on the airspace. We would have the same problem. I we it religiously, but we have to be able to fly safely without it. We all agree he should have requested it and that if he had been able to used it, we almost certainly would have had a different outcome. If the Cessna 150 pilot had filed a VFR flight plan, would it have affected the outcome? Not in the least, ATC knew about the collision immediately and would not have known about any VFR flight plan until they contacted Flight Service after the fact to identify the other aircraft besides the F-16. ATC controller knew the Cessna's route and altitude profile, he was watching it real time on his screen and it was steady, predictable, and TOTALLY AVOIDABLE with proper and timely ATC response!

So much for the lecture, now for the lessons:

ATC Controllers - You are responsible to provide to IFR traffic under your positive control UNAMBIGUOUS, appropriate instructions with necessary EMPHASIS to ensure positive separation from any other detected traffic by a safe margin. Anything less is extremely dangerous and unacceptable. End of story.

IFR - You are totally responsible to immediately and and appropriately comply with ALL ATC instructions, especially deviation instruction (which need to be assumed to be collision avoidance orders!). In VMC, you are still totally responsible for see and avoid on ATC reported and unreported traffic. Especially frontal traffic that should be quite obvious.

VFR - You are the least protected, so you'd better put as many layers of protection in as possible. Always request ATC flight following. If denied, be extra vigilant and continue to monitor the appropriate ATC frequency. Be visible as possible; displaying your night position strobe can be a life saver!

Peter, you are right to be a little upset in that it might have been you conducting military/121/135 IFR operations. Such events really bring it home. I'm certainly a little upset that it might have been me, since I fly that space and similar other space VFR most of the time. I also knew the passenger in the Cessna 150 casually a long time ago. Makes it more personal.
preacher1
preacher1 1
Peter, I gots a stupid question, admittedly unfamiliar with the area and nothing in front of me chart wise, but all comment here is that the Cessna never went into the class C of CHS. That is all well and good in that respect but if that be the case, what was the F16 doing? It just seems to me that if he was on an approach, he would have been in the proper airspace?
KennyFlys
Ken Lane 1
From the NTSB Preliminary Report:

"At 1100:49, the radar target of the F-16 was located 1/2 nautical mile northeast of the Cessna, at an indicated altitude of 1,500 feet, and was on an approximate track of 215 degrees. At that time, the Cessna reported an indicated altitude of 1,400 feet, and was established on an approximate track of 110 degrees. At 1100:52 the controller advised the F-16 pilot, "traffic passing below you 1,400 feet." At 1100:54, the radar reported altitude of the F-16 remained at 1,500 feet and no valid altitude information was returned for the radar target associated with the Cessna. At that point the targets were laterally separated by about 1,000 feet. No further radar targets were received from the Cessna, and the next radar target for the F-16 was not received until 1101:13. At 1101:19, the F-16 pilot transmitted a distress call, and no subsequent transmissions were received."

http://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.aviation/brief.aspx?ev_id=20150707X22207&key=2

My only question is... If TCAS would surely not allow aircraft to get that close, why did a controller allow it?!?! Why wasn't that controller's immediate order to the F-16 to climb and turn???

I'm sorry. There's no way I'd trust the altitude readout from a small, civilian plane. Now, if they were up in the flight levels where everyone were on the same page, perhaps.

Something many may not realize... what you put into the Kollsman window on the altimeter has no bearing on what the transponder reports. You're correcting indicated altitude by using the local altimeter setting. However, the transponder reports strictly pressure altitude. That's what the controller is reading on both birds.

What if the transponders in one or both the aircraft were reporting inaccurately? It appears one of them was. It's a good bet the Air Force bird was maintained properly. But why would the controller take a risk on a VFR target at low altitude being as accurate?

I'm just a lowly, dumb ass flight instructor. But my first thought is the controller should have directed the F-16 to climb and turn. Even a short climb of 500 feet incredibly decreases the results from potential error.

Next, why didn't the F-16 pilot choose to climb? If I see something on TIS I'm asking the controller about it. If the controller is telling me there's traffic and it's not a significant altitude and a couple miles away... I'll be asking for vectors for avoidance. A half mile separation isn't jack for two small planes, even in a pattern. It's barely a blink of an eye for an F-16 cruising in the vicinity of a 150.

I'll be interested in what the tests find with regard to accurate reporting of the transponders for each plane.
andriy17
Andriy Tsyupka 1
In VFR conditions even if you are on IFR plan, your eyes should always be scanning. F16 seemed too confident in our controllers.
andriy17
Andriy Tsyupka 1
Scanning for traffic
bishops90
Brian Bishop 1
KMKS is non-towered and sits just outside CHS's Class C. It's runway is 5/23 so with the C150 taking off from 23, he would have been flying roughly the same direction as the F-16 coming from MYR and coming up underneath him, so it's little wonder why the Viper driver never saw him.
preacher1
preacher1 1
Haven't got anything in here with me but is there no kind of warning published for KMKS or KCHS about that closeness, or is it possible that the F16 was a little outside and the C150 was in the right place.
gearup328
Peter Steitz 1
From the NTSB--"At 1100:49, the radar target of the F-16 was located 1/2 nautical mile northeast of the Cessna, at an indicated altitude of 1,500 feet, and was on an approximate track of 215 degrees. At that time, the Cessna reported an indicated altitude of 1,400 feet, and was established on an approximate track of 110 degrees. At 1100:52 the controller advised the F-16 pilot, "traffic passing below you 1,400 feet." At 1100:54, the radar reported altitude of the F-16 remained at 1,500 feet and no valid altitude information was returned for the radar target associated with the Cessna. At that point the targets were laterally separated by about 1,000 feet. No further radar targets were received from the Cessna, and the next radar target for the F-16 was not received until 1101:13. At 1101:19, the F-16 pilot transmitted a distress call, and no subsequent transmissions were received. Air traffic control radar continued to track the F-16 as it proceeded on a roughly southerly track, and after descending to an indicated altitude of 300 feet, radar contact was lost at 1103:17 in the vicinity of the F-16 crash site.

Something smells fishy here. Ordinarily, a 1000 foot separation would have been OK. The Cessna must have had altitude reporting as did the F-16. I'm gonna bet the fighter has much better instrumentation than the Cessna and was given an altimeter setting from CHS. Something that jumps out here is that no altitude was reported from the Cessna just prior to impact. Why? Just guessing but the Cessna was NOT 1000 below the fighter. The other item is why did the controller turn the fighter right into the Cessna? This would put the fighter belly up to the Cessna and make it impossible to see him. One other item--the fighter should have begun a turn when instructed, instead of asking "2 miles"? One other thing--VFR on the East coast may be 3 miles but in-flight actual visibility is hardly that. The humidity along the coast is very high and looking outside can be like looking through fog. Thoughts?
preacher1
preacher1 1
Seems like there is something that is not being told here, but here are Brian Bishop's comments posted below. He is local out of the Greenville area:


Brian Bishop about a day ago 1

KMKS is non-towered and sits just outside CHS's Class C. It's runway is 5/23 so with the C150 taking off from 23, he would have been flying roughly the same direction as the F-16 coming from MYR and coming up underneath him, so it's little wonder why the Viper driver never saw him.
marlus
Marc Lussier 1
Peter said:"Something smells fishy here. Ordinarily, a 1000 foot separation would have been OK."
The report states that at 1100:54 the targets were laterally separated by about 1000', not vertically!
preacher1
preacher1 1
Well, either way, thy were separated. There is a saying going around in the driving community, at least out in the country, "AN INCH IS GOOD AS A MILE". It seems like that could have applied here but for whatever reason, that INCH wasn't there.
gearup328
Peter Steitz 1
Read the NTSB preliminary report again. There's a misstatement somewhere. It is clear that their ALTITUDES were reported at 1000 feet apart. The 1000 foot warning was assuming a 1000 foot vertical separation which obviously was incorrect. As a former USAF pilot, I'm going on record that the Cessna was not at the altitude the controller first saw. When you are not talking to ATC and flying VFR without a flight plan, you can do almost anything you want. The Cessna could do chandelles or lazy eights and it is totally legal. The F-16 was on an IFR flight plan and performing a TACAN published approach and flying under radar contact. The Cessna stepped into it. I'm very sorry for the two who lost their lives. This is very tragic.
preacher1
preacher1 1
Sounds about right. That non towered field and close to class C. You would think that Cessna pilot would have been aware of that though. It also seems to me that the Viper driver was slow to react as well. Somebody screwed up somewhere though. 2 dead, 2 planes totaled.
FrankHarvey
Frank Harvey 1
I don't understand this report.

According to the report (extract follows below)

From 1057:41 and for 3 minutes the C150 is tracking "generally" 225 (having departed KMKS on 23). Yet at 1100:49 the C150 "was established on an approximate track of 110 degrees". Three minutes after 1057:41 is approximately 1100:41. How long would it take a C150 to "establish" a track of 110 in a (standard) turn from 225 ?

If the C150 was tracking 110, and the F-16 was tracking 215, why request the F-16 to come left to 180 ? Why not vector the F-16 right (behind and away from the C150) to something like 360 ?

If an F-16 at 1500 feet passes near (and above) a C150 at 1200-1400 feet, would there be any wake turbulence that could throw the C150 into an unrecoverable attitude ?

The collision appears to have occurred between 1100:49 and 1100:54, allowing for no radar lag. The first ATC traffic advisory started at 1100:18. How many seconds did this communication take ? The second (conditional) advisory was at 1100:26, if traffic is not in sight. At this time, 8 seconds after the first call, the F-16 pilot is still thinking of an unchanged 2 mile separation as he queries "confirm 2 miles ?". I would imagine an F-16 pilot, at 1500 feet and approach speed, would understand ranges can close in 8 seconds, for example how far can a ground fired SA-18 Grouse fly in 8 seconds ? So why is he still thinking 2 miles for traffic that was called as "12 o'clock, opposite direction"

At 1100:32 ATC (conditionally) orders an immediate left turn if traffic is not in sight. It appears that the F-16 "over the next 18 seconds" began to turn southerly, as ordered. If the track of the C150 did remain steady at 110 and the F-16 slowly turned left towards 180 (from 215), it would appear that that it was the ATC turn order which contributed heavily to the two aircraft being in the same place at the same time.

It is always easy to "monday morning quarterback" an incident but separation is vertical as well as horizontal. If the altitude squawk from the C150 indicated 1200-1400 throughout the 1100:18 to 1100:49 period, why not advise the F-16 to climb as well as, or instead of, turning left immediately at 1100:32 ? The rate of climb available to an F-16 is significantly greater than that available to a C150 with two on board. Even allowing the F-16 pilot 8 seconds to respond to the 1100:32 (conditional) order before initiating his response, the F-16 would still have been significantly above the C150 by 1100:49 if the F-16 had initiated a climb at 1100:40.

As I said, I don't understand the report.


Extract from Report

..."At 1057:41, a radar target displaying a visual flight rules transponder code of 1200, and later correlated to be the accident Cessna, appeared in the vicinity of the departure end of runway 23 at MKS, at an indicated altitude of 200 feet. The Cessna continued its climb, and began tracking generally southeast over the next 3 minutes. For the duration of its flight, the pilot of the Cessna did not contact CHS approach control, nor was he required to do so. At 1100:18, the controller advised the pilot of the F-16, "traffic 12 o'clock, 2 miles, opposite direction, 1,200 [feet altitude] indicated, type unknown." The F-16 pilot responded and advised the controller that he was "looking" for the traffic. At 1100:26, the controller advised the F-16 pilot, "turn left heading 180 if you don't have that traffic in sight." The pilot responded by asking, "confirm 2 miles?" Eight seconds later, the controller stated, "if you don't have that traffic in sight turn left heading 180 immediately." Over the next 18 seconds, the track of the F-16 began turning southerly.

At 1100:49, the radar target of the F-16 was located 1/2 nautical mile northeast of the Cessna, at an indicated altitude of 1,500 feet, and was on an approximate track of 215 degrees. At that time, the Cessna reported an indicated altitude of 1,400 feet, and was established on an approximate track of 110 degrees. At 1100:52 the controller advised the F-16 pilot, "traffic passing below you 1,400 feet." At 1100:54, the radar reported altitude of the F-16 remained at 1,500 feet and no valid altitude information was returned for the radar target associated with the Cessna. At that point the targets were laterally separated by about 1,000 feet. No further radar targets were received from the Cessna, and the next radar target for the F-16 was not received until 1101:13. At 1101:19, the F-16 pilot transmitted a distress call, and no subsequent transmissions were received."....
FrankHarvey
Frank Harvey 1
CORRECTION - Cessna "tracking generally southEAST over the next three minutes". Not 225 but 110 ! I have to learn to read every syllable. I had read it as southWEST after departing 23.

Ignore everything I said in my above post.
KennyFlys
Ken Lane 1
The thousand feet noted is lateral separation which by radar is no more certain than altitude.
chrisrod1
George Rodrigues 1
From the NTSB Preliminary Report, "At 1100:54 (about 1 second prior to impact - my comment), the radar reported altitude of the F-16 remained at 1,500 feet (BTW, the F-16 had an assigned altitude of 1600'. 100' deviation allowed - my comment) and no valid altitude information was returned for the radar target associated with the Cessna. At that point the targets were laterally separated by about 1,000 feet." Math: (1500' reported altitude of F-16) - (1400' reported altitude of Cessna 150 ~3 seconds prior to impact) = 100' vertical separation, not 1,000', which was reported as lateral.

Also recall that ATC knew that the Cessna 150 had departed MKS and was climbing steadily on a stable course of 110º. It was indicated at 1200' at 37 seconds until impact. Math: 1,000 feet of climb in 2:37 minutes = 382 fpm climb. 1200' + 382 fpm x 37/60 minutes = 1436'. If that's not an IMMEDIATE POTENTIAL COLLISION, I've never heard of one. The controller should have IMMEDIATELY issued the order to the F-16 "Initiate IMMEDIATE EMERGENCY LEFT TURN to 180 and EMERGENCY CLIMB to 2,000' for COLLISION AVOIDANCE." The ATC controller also should have omitted the "Unless traffic is in sight" qualifier because the margins were already too thin, and the F-16 pilot clearly didn't see the traffic at any point (gradual left turn over the last 19 seconds until impact? F-16's can turn a hell of a lot faster than that at 200-250 knots!). Since no one has time to do math when seconds count in an impending horizontal collision, The ATC controller mandating an IMMEDIATE emergency turn and climb to provide at least 500'-1,000' feet of separation would appear to be mandatory.

Also, please note from the NTSB Preliminary Report, the F-16 was given the same unambiguous instruction TWICE by ATC to turn left to 180 degrees unless he had the traffic in sight (the second time included the additional emphatic instruction "immediately") and the F-16 failed to comply until too late. Several things wrong in addition with ATC response: math: (215º reported course of F-16) - (110º reported course of Cessna 150) = 105º intercept angle; that is crossing traffic, not opposite direction. Col. Stephen Jost, Commander of the 20th Fighter Squadron at Shaw AFB was quoted by AVweb as stating that the F-16 would have been going 200-250 knots: The Cessna 150 was doing no more than 95 knots (actually, probably no more than 60 knots for maximum climb with two passengers on a warm day). The 36 seconds between first traffic call and the collision is plenty of time to resolve the conflict, but there is no time for diddling or leisure. The F-16 pilot was sitting in a clear bubble with practically the world's best frontal/side view (his life depends on it in combat). Unable to spot slightly front (I would guess 11 o'clock at initial ATC call out to the F-16 at 2 miles. Fighter pilot who can't see that in VMC has no business in the air. Willful disobedience of TWO mandatory ATC instructions and unable to avoid what should be clearly visible frontal traffic? You draw your own conclusions. I feel really badly for the F-16 pilot; he will have a terrible burden to bear the rest of his life. I feel even worse for the two souls in the high wing Cessna 150, with the pilot not able to spot crossing higher traffic probably hidden just behind the leading edge of his high left wing until too late.

This incident appears to be completely avoidable and, quite frankly, inexcusable. Unless far more mitigating circumstances are discovered in the NTSB investigation, criminal charges of negligent homicide appear to be appropriate.
gearup328
Peter Steitz 1
George, what? Negligent homicide? Guilty until proven innocent? There were many, many mitigating events going on at the time of this midair. The F-16 was on an approved TACAN approach and in radar contact. He was not under the hood and was looking for the Cessna. He was squawking his altitude.I have done many practice instrument approaches (USAF) in VFR and even on the wing in a two ship. Military pilots do this all the time. Your visual scan might be 50/50 which is what it is usually. Maybe if the Cessna checked in with CHS they could have prevented this. They don't have to but why not? I have had several close encounters with GA aircraft in my career. They were all with a GA just doing what he pleases. Fly across an approach to an airport like CHS--take your chances.Yes, there is a floor of controlled airspace but landing aircraft go right through that floor. I have flown in and out of CHS as a 121 commercial pilot. This could have been me with all my passengers. Thank God the F-16 pilot is alive. God bless the families of the Cessna pilots.
preacher1
preacher1 1
Peter, with all that has been proffered here, there is one glaring thing that, while mentioned, is not stress. Not once but twice, the F16 was told to make that turn if he did not have traffic in sight. On neither call did he turn. If he had, we might not be having this corporation. Linbb also makes this observation in the post below.
gearup328
Peter Steitz 1
My thoughts exactly. Why turn the fighter into a collision course? In air to air you turn into the bad guy so he can't fire at you. In avoiding a collision either turn away or change altitude. However, we are told that the two aircraft were 1000 feet apart vertically. The Cessna was supposedly 1000 feet below the F-16. That, in itself is enough to prevent a midair. Someone isn't telling the truth.
gearup328
Peter Steitz 1
Yep. But if they actually had 1000 foot separation...................? The F-16 pilot hesitated and that is going to be a factor. I never had TCAS until part 135 and then 121. I flew blindly in the USAF. Why doesn't the military have it? Gosh, the Garmin in our Cessnas have it.
preacher1
preacher1 1
I don't know if the military has it or not. I know they have that IFF off their transponder to determine friend/foe but that has been there awhile. Couldn't say. I had it all the time I was up there on 135/91 and it is on everything today. idk if it is a requirement now or not. I know I wouldn't want to be without it, especially in congested air space or a well used crossing.
chrisrod1
George Rodrigues 1
Peter, I will restate and clarify my OPINION. You are, of course, correct that any and all are innocent until proven guilty. That being agreed on, the ATC controller had an absolute legal duty to provide traffic separation service to the F-16. It is my OPINION that his failure to recognize the escalating collision potential (probability) and issue IMMEDIATE and DRASTIC remedial orders to separate the F-16 from the unknown slow traffic on an obvious climb on a stable heading towards an obvious collision or near miss probably warrants at least grand jury action on a negligent homicide charge. His relatively routine and mild actions appear to have allowed an avoidable traffic conflict to escalate into an emergency, high risk conflict and then to a collision. That, in my OPINION, violates his legal duty to provide positive traffic separation to the F-16 pilot. It is my OPINION that, barring additional mitigating circumstances discovered during the NTSB and military investigations, sufficient evidence exists to bring the ATC controller before a Federal grand jury.

It is obvious, in my OPINION, that the F-16 pilot failed in his duties to successfully perform see and avoid during IFR operation in VFC (while sitting in arguably the best aerial observation platform in the world). BTW, the FAR's require this as a 100% responsibility, not "50/50". If an IFR flight in VMC can't comply, that IFR flight should not be in the air. That can probably be overlooked from a legal culpability standpoint for the F-16 pilot, but I suspect that the USAF will not overlook it from a fitness for flight perspective. It is obvious, in my OPINION, from the Preliminary NTSB Report that the F-16 pilot failed to comply with the first ATC controller's instruction to turn left to 180 if he didn't have the traffic in sight. That instruction doesn't require a request for clarification of location of the other traffic nor, in my OPINION, is it appropriate at that point; it requires immediate compliance by immediately initiating a turn to 180 if the F-16 pilot does not observe the other traffic. He obviously didn't have the traffic in sight, so he should have immediately turned to 180 and THEN gotten clarification on the other traffic's location. The controller issued a second, near identical instruction that ordered the F-16 pilot to IMMEDIATELY turn to 180 if he did not have the other traffic in sight. In my OPINION, for the F-16 pilot, having already received (and failed to comply with the, first functionally identical, order), in my OPINION, any response other than a high rate turn to 180 is unacceptable, irresponsible, and probably legally culpable. His response (according to the Preliminary NTSB Report) was "Over the next 18 seconds, the track of the F-16 began turning southerly." instead of an emergency avoidance turn of 25º left. I'm guessing that an Article 31 investigation will immediately follow the results of the USAF Board of Inquiry into the incident.

In my OPINION, it seems obvious that the ATC controller neither sensed nor conveyed to the F-16 pilot just how quickly the probability of a collision was approaching 100%, as was his legal duty;. In my OPINION, it also seems obvious that the F-16 pilot took the controller's REPEATED deviation instruction as an normal, business as usual controller instruction to be obeyed in his own time instead of an emergency avoidance instruction. Perhaps a little remedial training in the meaning of the word "immediate" and it's ramifications in ATC instructions is order. I suspect that, in the end, both the controller and the F-16 will be in serious legal trouble; I've already stated my OPINION on that. I suspect that investigation and simulation in the course of the NTSB investigation will show that the pilot of the Cessna 150 would have had a difficult, if not impossible, task visually detecting the F-16 above and near or actually blocked by the leading edge of his left wing. Flight following with ATC probably would have been a life saver for him, although he had the fewest tools available to modify the situation!

No offense meant here, Peter, but I fly VFR in the same areas and conditions for pleasure as that Cessna 150 was flying. I absolutely use ATC flight following when it is available, which is ALMOST always. My head is on a swivel but, I'd hate to think that my flight safety and life are also partially dependent on some fast mover whose performance (VFR or IFR operation) with VMC see and avoid is 50%. BTW, the performance of fighter pilots I have flow with in light aircraft is 100% at those ranges WITHOUT ATC flight following. Them's my OPINIONS; I've thought them out pretty well. If you don't like them, don't read my posts
59695969
Dudley Johnston 1
As a former USAF pilot (fighters and bombers) I think Maj.Johnson acted irresponsibly (And his commanders apparently condoned single pilot instrument practice in VFR conditions). He should be given an FEB (Flight evaluation board) and permanent grounded for the type of flight he was conducting and then doing little to avoid known traffic. Experienced pilot? NAH!! Just a slight nudge up elevator when advised of this traffic and I wouldn't be writing this.
drumkitwes
wesley sloat 4
Mother of god, your statement is so bizarre and insane that if you were actually a former USAF pilot I hope you drastically changed your viewpoints since you flew or I feel sorry for the people who had to fly with you. An FEB for flying practice approaches while under radar contact and on an ifr flight plan in class C airspace at an Air Force Bade? As you assuredly know with your with your experience, this is one of the most benign things you could do. Far less risky than doing maneuvers in a MOA or blasting down an MTR supersonic. But just out of curiosity, how are these pilots supposed to train to fly IFR now that you've decided to FEB them all as it stands now?
yogaflyer1
SCOTT ERICKSON -2
The practicing of solo instrument approaches in VFR conditions is both illegal and irresponsible. Maybe the military has their own rules to prevent them from running into each other, but if a civilian pilot wants to practice jet instrument approaches in VFR conditions federal law requires fully qualified observer pilot, current in category, class and type to be at the controls scanning the sky for traffic and ready and able to instantly adjust the flight path to avoid a collision. The legal term that best describes the loss of 2 lives as a direct result of illegal and irresponsible behavior is manslaughter. Major Aaron Johnson should have been charged and thrown in jail for the double manslaughter that has been already admitted to based on the uncontested report that he was conducting solo instrument approach practice under VFR conditions in civilian airspace (a federal crime in and of itself) and caused the death of 2 people to because of his inherently negligence activity.
.
30west
30west 2
Flying solo IFR approaches in VFR conditions under radar contact, illegal and irresponsible? I need to see "chapter and verse" to agree with that statement. He wasn't "under the hood" and with a HUD his head didn't need to be down. He would have been looking thru the HUD and forward outside the jet controlling his flight path and able to look for traffic.

With traffic reported close, I believe his full attention was focused on picking up the reported traffic, a challenging task very often and depending on where the F16 was in relation to the final approach course his KIAS could have been quite high and rate of closure even higher.
preacher1
preacher1 1
F16 got a HUD?
30west
30west 2
drumkitwes
wesley sloat 1
Do you know how many seats an F-16 has?
preacher1
preacher1 1
There are some 2 seat trainers but the standard is single seat but whichever, there was only 1 pilot.
drumkitwes
wesley sloat 1
Bingo! Therefore, according to Mr. Scott Erikson, F-16 and every other single seat pilot in the world should not be allowed to practice IFR approaches unless the wx is poor. Bottom line is the F-16 guy was being about as safe as you can be flying ifr
preacher1
preacher1 1
Well, in retrospect, I never heard of the law before that Scott mentions but all my time under the hood was with another pilot in the other seat. The purpose of that under the hood time though, was to get you on the ground as a single pilot if need be, in the soup. That said, my question in all this is that the F16 was under ATC control. Where did that Cessna come from. Somebody had to clear him for takeoff as they weren't all that high.
drumkitwes
wesley sloat 0
Someone had to clear him for takeoff? No, he took off from an uncontrolled field. Also I think you all are mistaken about "flying ifr approaches in vfr conditions." In the C-17 vision limiting devices are not allowed, and I'd bet that holds true in the F-16 ESPECIALLY with single pilot ops.
preacher1
preacher1 1
Honestly Wesley, just not sure but I imagine it will all come out in the investigation. Even when ATC gave the 2 mile warning to the F16, you would have had a fairly fast closing speed and it is doubtful, possible but doubtful, that this could have been avoided. I'm not sure of the approach speed on the F16 but even using airliner speed of around 160 and just guess on the Cessna at 100, that is a closing speed of 260kt and it doesn't take much to eat that up. Putting the hood aside, the F16 actually got notification quicker from ATC than to have seen it. As you know, it's just hard o see stuff up there.
gearup328
Peter Steitz 0
Yes. I have read that the family also had a tragedy not connected to this aviation accident. Terrible--I just can't imagine.
I teach situational awareness and CRM at the university level. If I were the Cessna driver, I would feel naked if I weren't talking to someone on the radio. I would state my intentions and flight path. Having contact with ATC is imperative nowadays. This is not the 1950's. Not to blame the pilots on the Cessna. It just seems like GA wants to go anywhere anytime and not talk to anybody.
59695969
Dudley Johnston 0
Ever heard of a simulator?
drumkitwes
wesley sloat 2
f-16 sims aren't full motion. So you want to have a single pilot fly an instrument approach in the wx in the jet for the first time? Sounds like a great safe plan.

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