NTSB Identification: LAX01FA101B
Accident occurred Thursday, February 15, 2001 in Long Beach, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/30/2004
Aircraft: Cessna 172N, registration: N4686G
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

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.

A midair collision occurred between the Cessna 152 and a Cessna 172, which were flying between 800 and 1,000 feet above the ocean in an established student training practice area. The flight instructors and their respective students lost control of their airplanes, which descended into the ocean and sank. An eyewitness in a ship observed the airplanes seconds prior to the collision. The witness stated that "one plane appeared to bank and turn directly into the other plane." Another witness, who was airborne in a helicopter, reported that before the impact he had observed one of the airplanes performing counterclockwise orbits, like a turn about a point ground reference maneuver. This airplane had completed several circles when it collided with another airplane that was flying in a westerly direction. Neither the Cessna 152's empennage nor the Cessna 172's engine was recovered. Radar tracks for the airplanes could not be determined. The collision occurred in a near head-on trajectory, based upon the severity of the impact damage to the leading edge of the Cessna 152's right wing, the lack of impact damage in the Cessna 172's aft fuselage and empennage, the witness statements, and the locations where the airplanes were found (the Cessna 152 was west of the Cessna 172).

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

The failure of the flight crews of both airplanes to maintain adequate visual lookout for traffic.

Full narrative available

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