NTSB Identification: SEA96LA173.
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Accident occurred Saturday, July 27, 1996 in PORTLAND, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/31/1998
Aircraft: Cessna 182G, registration: N3135S
Injuries: 2 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The tower controller instructed the Cessna 182 pilot to expedite his visual flight rules (VFR) approach and follow an MD-80 airliner on straight-in final. The Cessna pilot reported the MD-80 in sight (at 2.3 to 3.6 nautical miles) and complied with the instructions. The Cessna encountered the MD-80's wake turbulence about 200 feet above ground level on final; the pilot lost control and the aircraft crashed. Radar data showed that the Cessna closed to approximately 0.9 miles behind the MD-80, and descended 200 feet below the MD-80's glide path (contrary to wake turbulence avoidance guidance in the FAA's Aeronautical Information Manual [AIM]). A 4-mile minimum separation distance would have been required for radar separation, but no minimum distance was required for visual separation. The AIM states that controllers are required to apply minimum landing separation distances for wake turbulence, without distinguishing between visual and radar separation environments. In February 1994, the NTSB issued recommendations to the FAA indicating a belief that VFR aircraft should observe instrument flight rules (IFR) wake turbulence separation distances.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot's failure to maintain a proper glide path above the MD-80's wake turbulence.

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