View Full Version : Mid-air collision over Colorado


Farrell
6th Feb 2010, 22:41
Authorities: 2 planes collide in Colorado; 3 die - Yahoo! News (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_colorado_air_accident)



PCM-MU2
7th Feb 2010, 00:15
2 small aircraft involved.






msnbc.com Video Player (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/35273678#35273678)

bad bear
7th Feb 2010, 04:00
cnn have a link showing the moments after the collision and it appears as if there is a parachute recovey system on one aeroplane.
3 killed when two planes collide near Colorado airport - CNN.com (http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/02/06/colorado.plane.collision/index.html?iref=allsearch).

bb

Bill Harris
7th Feb 2010, 06:05
I've heard that Cirrus collided with a towplane towing a glider. All souls perished on the two planes, the glider released and landed safely.

Tragic.

Mid-air in Colorado - RC Groups (http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1189263)


--Bill

wsmempson
7th Feb 2010, 20:22
One of the American news channels reporting that the two occupants of the Cirrus SR20 successfully deployed the BRS parachute, but the on-board fire became sufficiently intense to make them jump out. Bloody sad and unpleasant.

Deeday
7th Feb 2010, 21:58
It's quite amazing that the parachute stayed attached to the airframe all the way down, despite the collision damage and the fire: a testament to the quality of that particular BRS' design.

As for the fire itself, given the Cirrus' not-so-brilliant reputation with regard to post-crash fires, it's almost ironical that this accident provides yet another example, when for once the ground was not involved in the impact.

What a horrible way to go.

yawningdog
8th Feb 2010, 10:09
Yes, but I don't think you can blame the Cirrus safety standards for this one.

From the video it looks like it is descending with one wing down under the parachute. That could suggest that the other wing became separated causing fuel lines to be ruptured etc, hence fire near to the cabin/engine.

Although not relevant here, at least initially it looks like they survived the collision and the chute deployed successfully. The same cannot be said for the tug plane which didn't stand a chance after the collision.

I suppose efforts could be made to fire proof the whole cabin, or for pilots to wear fire proof suits and extra parachutes. But even that won't prepare for an endless array of alternative scenarios.

These things just seem to happen...Cause: 2 x planes in the wrong place at the wrong time, that's where the blame lies.

Flyingmac
8th Feb 2010, 12:46
If we are to believe the report of the glider pilot's pre-impact release then we have to ask what effect this had on the Pawnee's flight path.
Perhaps the glider pilot will be the one who ends up being sued. It being the States, you can bet someone will.

Fitter2
8th Feb 2010, 12:58
Since the glider is reported as flying through the post-collision fireball, it is highly unlikely to have released until the collision was imminent, with no effect on the flightpath.

Given the onus on a powered aicraft to give way to one towing a glider (under international air law) and the tug-glider combination being in a promulgated climb-out path, I know whose lawyer I would rather be.

Very sad, and a tragic reminder of the need to keep a good lookout.

peter272
8th Feb 2010, 13:07
If we are to believe the report of the glider pilot's pre-impact release then we have to ask what effect this had on the Pawnee's flight path.

Not a lot I would have thought.

The quote I read is that the glider pilot saw the Cirrus in the corner of his eye, cut the towrope, and ended up flying through "a fireball".

Sounds like the southbound Cirrus was on a collision course with the westbound Pawnee/2-32 combination and any action of the glider pilot would have made no difference, except he saved 3 people

RatherBeFlying
8th Feb 2010, 14:32
There may be similarities to the helicopter collision with a Piper over the Hudson corridor.

In both cases a slow moving a/c climbs into the path of a faster a/c in cruise.

There may also be the common element of not being on the same frequency.

Glider ports are well used to itinerant aircraft blasting through circuit altitudes or not much more at cruise speed.

Update: There are now reports that the Cirrus was flying out of Boulder which raises the question of radio calls if any.

peter272
8th Feb 2010, 15:34
The report does imply the Cirrus was in the descent, but it is still incumbent on the pilot of any aircraft (except balloons) to give way to a glider/tug combination as it would seem to have been heavily loaded and with limited maneouveability.

Given that it was probably on a standard tow-out route, you do have to wonder what the Cirrus guy was doing.

At my old gliding site in the UK we did discuss fitting SAM-7 missiles to the clubhouse to pick off powered aircraft bombing through the circuit following the magenta line.....!!

englishal
8th Feb 2010, 16:40
I bet, that yet again, if this glider & or tug had a transponder operating, then this crash wouldn't have happened. I bet the Cirrus had a traffic system fitted......

Bill Harris
8th Feb 2010, 18:46
Given the onus on a powered aicraft to give way to one towing a glider (under international air law) and the tug-glider combination being in a promulgated climb-out path, I know whose lawyer I would rather be.

The lawyers are already posturing a defense...

...a lawyer with Faegre & Benson, was piloting his Cirrus SR20 plane...

Family: Pilot in Boulder mid-air crash 'experienced,' 'made safety a priority' - Boulder Daily Camera (http://www.dailycamera.com/news/ci_14352511)


I'm barely SLF, but my take would be that the tug/glider was hidden under the Cirrus' left wing and wasn't visible til too late. Quite similar to the heli-Piper midair in NYC last year.

I have no idea what sort of notices/restrictions exist around an airport with known glider towing.

--Bill

Gertrude the Wombat
8th Feb 2010, 19:34
standard tow-out route
How is one supposed to know what or where that is? The glider sites are marked on the map but I've never seen any "standard tow-out route" marked.

robin
8th Feb 2010, 19:36
Well done Englishal

You win the prize for being the first to raise the issue of mandatory Tx carriage.

englishal
8th Feb 2010, 19:56
something that I believe should be mandatory.....

execExpress
8th Feb 2010, 21:23
UK Airprox Board here (http://www.airproxboard.org.uk/default.aspx?catid=423&pagetype=90&pageid=5640) says

"About 10% of all Airprox are glider-related – that’s about 20 incidents a year. Almost all occur in Class G airspace which is of course for everyone to use. In such airspace, “see and avoid” is the primary means of collision avoidance. Modern gliders can be very difficult to see so a better understanding of where gliders may be found should assist everyone to choose routes and levels that minimise the chances of an encounter. The Airprox Board’s gliding specialist offers the following advice to pilots, drawn from Airprox." ...

gpn01
8th Feb 2010, 21:45
something that I believe should be mandatory.....

And so the thread descends into that typical loop...

Not all gliders can be transponder equipped. This may be because:
- PCAS/TCAS/Mode-S not approved for fitting because of EASA implications
- Power consumption of existing units makes them unsuitable for gliding use (gliders often have a single 12v battery to run their instruments for flights typically in excess of 5-6 hours - a transponder would consume this capacity very quickly)
- There may not be adequate panel space
- Gliders may not have the payload or CofG flexibility for additional instrumentation and battery power
- Transponders would require external antennas fitting, that would require a mod to the airframe, against unapproved by EASA
- Transponders radiate energy that would be in close proximity to a glider pilot's head and there has not been a full risk assessment of the consequences of any such radiation risk

There's probably others too.

I'm keen that we adopt whatever aids we can, reasonably, introduce to improve interoperability. We need to be realistic too as to the limitations of the technology currently offerred. In the UK, the CAA attempted to railroad Mode-S, there seems to be a gradual voluntary adoption of PCAS by the power community and of FLARM by the gliding community. Meanwhile EU analysis of adding UAV's to the mix suggests that FLARM is the way to go. End result, we don't have a single, consistent, compatible, cross-platform solution (beyond lookout - which we can all do, but has its limits).

englishal
8th Feb 2010, 22:57
I'm sure someone could come up with a small, lightweight, low power transponder for gliders IF it wasn't for bureaucracy.....Or how about mandate Mode S & ADS-B for us power lots, and mandate that gliders carry passive traffic systems to detect us ;)

RatherBeFlying
8th Feb 2010, 23:18
I'm sure someone could come up with a small, lightweight, low power transponder for gliders IF it wasn't for bureaucracy.....Or how about mandate Mode S & ADS-B for us power lots, and mandate that gliders carry passive traffic systems to detect us

They have -- it's called FLARM. There's also PowerFLARM (http://www.butterfly.aero/powerflarm/fly/) which will alert to Mode S and C transponders -- and there's PCAS which alerts to Mode C.

I suspect that for the price of not very many annual Mode C/S altitude calibration checks, light aircraft could install FLARM and get alerts.

ChrisVJ
9th Feb 2010, 00:27
While we all discussing whether the glider should have,/could have a transponder fitted we're missing the point that the Pawnee could have. So far any discussion about warning equipment is just speculation as far as this case goes, it will only be valuable if it spurs someone to come up with a useful solution and the most obvious is mandatory expensive equipment. Unfortunately when governments mandate such things they tend to do so universally which will be a pity for those of us who fly in less crowded airspace.

777fly
9th Feb 2010, 00:58
Maybe this accident shows just how useless a BRS parachute recovery system is. The Cirrus crew were not saved by it, despite the aircraft appearing to be mostly intact during final descent. In fact, it appears that due to the slow and almost vertical descent, the aircraft cockpit was exposed to fire and smoke throughout the descent. It is impossible to know if the aircraft was flyable after the collision, but as most of the smoke is seen coming from the engine, maybe it might have been. In that case a controlled, steep, side slipping descent might have kept them alive.The BRS took that option away. You are a passenger once it is deployed.

englishal
9th Feb 2010, 02:03
It is an odd view that says the addition of a BRS takes AWAY options??? I guess it is pretty tricky to remain controlled if a wing is missing....If anything it added one option....the option not to plummet to the ground. It looks like terrible luck, that the brs works just fine, but the fire killed them...horrible way to go, poor buggers. But you could equally blame the avgas for being too flammable or the engine for being hot, or the fuel tanks for holding too much fuel....

But at the end of the day, had they not been in the same place at the same time, it would never have happened.. I'd rather have the option of a brs if I were in their position.....

cats_five
9th Feb 2010, 06:38
To complete the quote from the UK airpox board, with an added 'Smile':

Lessons Identified | UK Airprox Board (http://www.airproxboard.org.uk/default.aspx?catid=423&pagetype=90&pageid=5640)

"About 10% of all Airprox are glider-related – that’s about 20 incidents a year. Almost all occur in Class G airspace which is of course for everyone to use. In such airspace, “see and avoid” is the primary means of collision avoidance. Modern gliders can be very difficult to see so a better understanding of where gliders may be found should assist everyone to choose routes and levels that minimise the chances of an encounter. The Airprox Board’s gliding specialist offers the following advice to pilots, drawn from Airprox.

Glider sites are clearly marked on the topographical charts but be careful with some versions - and particularly electronic charts - as not all publishers have included them yet. :eek: Note that the heights shown on the charts refer to the maximum height of a winch launch. On CAA charts these are shown nowadays as the altitude above sea level (QNH). If height above the site (QFE) is used, either on older CAA charts or on your non-CAA chart, then note that most gliding sites specify a maximum winch launch height of either 2000ft or 3000ft above ground level. Several sites are perched on tops of hills so a glider’s altitude (QNH) at the top of a winch launch could be 4000ft if the site is 1000ft above sea level.

Avoiding the winch launch area is essential as the wire will certainly cause structural damage and probably remove a wing with fatal consequences, irrespective of aircraft size. But just avoiding the winch height/altitude by a margin may not be sufficient to avoid a close encounter as several gliders may well be in the area having been launched earlier. The airspace above the winch launch may also be full of gliders. In addition, many of the sites will use aircraft to launch, typically anywhere between 2000ft and 4000ft above the site and occasionally higher.

The best advice is therefore to avoid a glider site by a good margin if at all possible, paying particular attention to the areas immediately above and upwind of the site. Most summer operations can be assumed to be up to cloudbase but well above it when wave conditions prevail. Wave can occur at any time but is generally more active during winter months, particularly at those sites that are nearer hill and mountain ranges.

If you find yourself approaching a glider launch site, do not rely on the launch crew seeing you in time to stop a launch. Calculations have shown that if you are flying above 120kts it is unlikely the launch crew will see – or hear - you in sufficient time to take such action.

Finally, gliders can be safely launched in very high wind speeds so it is unwise to assume the site is not launching just because other GA airfields in the area have ceased operations.

GA Book 12, which can be downloaded from elsewhere on this site, covers a number of gliding-related topics identified from Airprox in recent years. There have been a couple of very close calls and you may like in particular to look at the following:

Gliding site examples: 2005/010; 2005/018; 2005/066; 2006/016; 2007/015
Winch launch examples: 2004/155; 2005/061; 2005/073; 2005/199; 2007/052"

astir 8
9th Feb 2010, 07:19
We are way way off thread here, but we seem to be in the process yet again of perpetuating the myth that gliders are only found in the vicinity of gliding sites. Reading the airprox reports, both military and civilian power pilots frequently express surprise at having seen (or in some cases not seen) a glider when there was no local gliding site.

Yes, there are more gliders near gliding sites. And there are winch cables and tug/glider combinations. But on a good soaring day there are a lot of gliders doing long cross country tasks well away from gliding sites. And they are particularly common in class G "pinch points".

So lets be careful out there.

peter272
9th Feb 2010, 08:36
Well said Astir

In this case, the glider was still on tow with what looks like two air experience passengers. So it would have been operating in a known gliding area.

However, as I have seen myself, a lot of pilots don't really flight plan sufficiently. They draw a route on the GPS, write down frequencies and check runways, but don't think about local rules.

At our own airfield we have people joining in the overhead when parachute dropping is happening, or flying wide on the dead site and overflying the local gliding site.

It is all clearly marked on charts and in flight guides to avoid this, but it still happens.

cats_five
9th Feb 2010, 09:44
<snip>
At our own airfield we have people joining in the overhead when parachute dropping is happening, or flying wide on the dead site and overflying the local gliding site.

It is all clearly marked on charts and in flight guides to avoid this, but it still happens.

It happens at other places as well - read the UK Airprox Reports. Pilots with so little situational awareness need a good dose of retraining IMHO - and don't think it's just novices that do this sort of thing. The incident I was involved in (which was dealt with informally over the phone which I gather was a suitably embarassing experience for the other parties) involved a list aircraft being flown by two instructors.

Also, don't think that carrying transponders will remove all risks - the UK Air Prox reports have examples where both aircraft were equipped. They also have examples where both were receiving an ATC service, and at least one recent one where the ATC routing could have been better...

MichaelJP59
9th Feb 2010, 10:38
We are way way off thread here, but we seem to be in the process yet again of perpetuating the myth that gliders are only found in the vicinity of gliding sites. Reading the airprox reports, both military and civilian power pilots frequently express surprise at having seen (or in some cases not seen) a glider when there was no local gliding site.

Yes, there are more gliders near gliding sites. And there are winch cables and tug/glider combinations. But on a good soaring day there are a lot of gliders doing long cross country tasks well away from gliding sites. And they are particularly common in class G "pinch points".

So lets be careful out there.

But I guess its still valid to remind pilots to give glider sites a wide berth laterally and vertically if possible.

Also, it's not really a useful tip that you could meet gliders anywhere in class G - after all, it's incumbent on us to keep a good look out for any aerial device in class G airspace. It's not as though we could, or would even want to keep an eye out specifically for gliders.

snapper1
9th Feb 2010, 14:11
Why all this talk of gliders?

In this tragic accident a collision occurred between two powered aircraft.

hatzflyer
9th Feb 2010, 15:26
Exactly...but one poster at least is still trying to blame the glider for pulling off!

007helicopter
9th Feb 2010, 18:11
The gliderpilot and passangers in an interview on MSNBC

Today Show Video Player (http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/35309533#35309533)

007helicopter
9th Feb 2010, 18:13
Maybe this accident shows just how useless a BRS parachute recovery system is

777 got to say i think that is a really pathetic statement, what about the times it has saved lives?

englishal
9th Feb 2010, 19:20
apparently occurred is inside the Mode C veil making use of Tx mandatory for the powered aircraft with very few exceptions.
Which is why it is so confusing. It is also in an active TIS area and I would have expected the Cirrus to have at least TIS onboard.

Of course Mode C vales can be operated in without a txpdr with prior agreement with ATC so this could be a factor if as routine tug flight. I doubt it though, every aeroplane I have flown in America has a txpdr.

It may have nothing to do with transponders at all, and the cirrus may not have had a traffic system, who knows...

dublinpilot
9th Feb 2010, 20:58
Is it likely in that area that they would have been too low for the radar to get a return to feed into the TIS?

dp

CenAir
10th Feb 2010, 00:17
No matter how you look at it the Cirrus if it was climbing, descending
or in level cruise did not have the right of way and had two people up front with four sets of eyes, and failed to see and avoid not one but two aircraft in flight and thinking both may have had there heads down inside the cockpit when they missed seeing both planes.

RatherBeFlying
10th Feb 2010, 01:30
In the CBS interview, the pilot had pointed out one or two other gliders to the passengers, one of which contained her daughter and a friend.

The tow was at 8000' and climbing to 10,000' making the collision about 3000 AGL.

The glider pilot saw the Cirrus and immediately reached for the release -- my impression is that the Cirrus came from behind and obviously saw neither the glider or the tow plane.

I have observed gliders on tow countless times. The combination is considerably easier to pick out than a single aircraft as the glider is usually white and the towplane is usually in a high visibility color so that one of the colors stands out if the other color is hard to make out in the conditions.

Looking down on fall foilage, you spot the white glider first. The towplane blends in.

Against the sky the towplane usually stands out.

peter272
10th Feb 2010, 09:46
The film shows that the Pawnee was white but the glider was an odd set of colours.

The guys on the film certainly still looked to be in shock

CenAir
11th Feb 2010, 01:07
Should be interesting to see the NTSB Report for the headings and altitudes for all the aircraft in this accident to see what really happened, not sure how anyone concluded the Cirrus was descending as well as behind the tow plane as I haven't seen any information for the same?

MikeVictor
19th Feb 2010, 02:46
The Tow plane had a TX and was operational, or so it is supposed to be. The glider isn't required to have one, but there has been some improvements in the power consumption of TX's for gliders, That may become a requirement some day. But in this case, the TOW planes TX should have been all that was needed.

Someone asked what would happen when the tow line was released. It falls away some and the tow plane climbs some at the same time. The glider will normally turn to the right and the tow plane will turn to the left and begin to descend.So if someone is trying to fly under the tow rope, they might hit it. If they try to closely overfly or underfly the tow plane, they might hit it anyway.

So give a towed glider a wide birth in every direction. They do clear their turns, or are supposed to upon release, but don't bet your life on it. Following them is risky and certainly don't get into their blind spots as they can separate and manuver as I said before they see you.... Stay far away from them and make sure you know where they normally fly in your area. When a glider is approaching you head on or away, they are very hard to see. You usually see them when they turn, and you see those long usually white wings flash. And sailplanes are much faster than some may realize, the VNE for my Nimbus C glider is around 135 knots, so they can approach you quickly (I and most glider pilots normally cruise around 55 to 60 knots unless they are in a race).

That accident, I would bet, was due to lack of situational awareness on everyone's behalf. There were 3 pilots and some passengers that could have seen each other, but did not sadly. We tend to become complacent the more we do something, that is one of the greatest risks in aviation I think.

For those uninitiated in glider procedures, be aware of that glider turn right, tow plane turn left routine if you happen upon a towed glider some time....and don't forget about that tow line...

I'm a glider pilot and have released a few hundred times from a piper Pawnee like the one in the accident.

Mike
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