NTSB Identification: MIA00FA107B
Accident occurred Tuesday, March 14, 2000 in STUART, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/06/2001
Aircraft: Beech A36, registration: N51ML
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot of the Cessna 310 (N6744T) had been on a right base for runway 7, and at 1433:30, had at the Stuart tower controller's request, verified that it was the Cessna 310 that was turning on final for runway 7. At 1433:33 the controller cleared the pilot of the Cessna 310 to land on runway 7. Previously, the pilot of the Beech A-36 (N51ML) had requested from, and had been cleared by the Palm Beach Arrival Radar North Controller, to execute the global positioning system (GPS) instrument approach to runway 12 at Stuart, and the procedure had been coordinated with the local tower controllers at Stuart. Shortly thereafter however, the initial Palm Beach Approach controller was relieved, and the relieving approach controller issued the pilot of the Beech A-36 a visual approach clearance to Stuart, along with a radio frequency communications handoff to the Stuart (local) tower controller, which the pilot of the Beech A-36 accepted. However, no follow-up coordination had been conducted between the Palm Beach Approach controllers and the local tower controllers to advise that the Beech A-36 was no longer executing the GPS approach to runway 12. Meanwhile, the Beech A-36 was proceeding inbound to Stuart, from its present position, lining up with runway 7. During the same time period, in response to an inquiry, the local controller had become engaged in a conversation about operations near the airport, and the conversation, interspersed with other air traffic control instructions, limited communications contact, while the Cessna 310 and the Beech A-36 were proceeding inbound to the airport. At 1433:58 the pilot of Beech A-36 informed the local tower controller that he was on a 2 mile final for runway 7, and the local tower controller responded that the Beech A-36 had been expected to execute the GPS approach to runway 12. Shortly thereafter, the Cessna 310 and Beech A-36 collided with each other, in flight, in the traffic pattern, while both were approaching to land on runway 07 at Stuart. During the collision Cessna 310 incurred minor damage, but the pilot continued the approach, and landed safely at Stuart. After the collision, the pilot of Beech A-36 terminated the approach and proceeded to North County Airport, where he landed without further incident. Examination of Beech revealed that the left wing spar had been bent.

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

the failure of both pilots to maintain an adequate visual lookout, resulting in both airplanes colliding in flight. Contributing to the accident were: 1) inadequate approach/departure control service by ATC approach/departure personnel, and the failure of the radar approach controller to advise the local tower controller of the change in approach procedure for N51ML; 2) the excessive and extraneous radio communications by the local controller which prevented both pilots from providing timely position information during the critical period prior to the midair collision.

Full narrative available

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