MIA05LA076A
MIA05LA076A

On March 13, 2005, about 1629 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28-180 (Piper), N7706N, registered to Hyperventilation Aviation, and a Cessna 210N (Cessna), N4617C, registered to a private individual, collided in-flight over Bradfordville, Florida. Following the collision, both aircraft landed at the Tallahassee Regional Airport. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area of the midair collision and the Piper airplane was receiving VFR flight following for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight from Lovell Field, Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Tallahassee Regional Airport (KTLH), Tallahassee, Florida. An instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the Cessna airplane that was operating under 14 CFR part 91 on a personal flight from Tallahassee Commercial Airport (68J), Tallahassee, Florida, to Melbourne Regional Airport, Melbourne, Florida. Both aircraft incurred substantial damage. There were no injuries to the private-rated pilot and one passenger in the Piper airplane, and there were no injuries to the private-rated pilot and one passenger in the Cessna airplane. The Piper flight originated about 1330, from Lovell Field Airport, while the Cessna flight originated about 1625, from Tallahassee Commercial Airport.

The pilot of the Piper airplane reported that while en route and in contact with the Atlanta Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC), at a point he expected a transfer of air traffic control communications from the Atlanta ARTCC to Tallahassee Approach Control and the transfer did not occur, he contacted Tallahassee Approach Control on his own initiative. Initially, there was some confusion whether the Tallahassee Approach Control controller wanted him to change the assigned transponder code (1770); however, the controller wanted him to ident. His aircraft was radar identified and at that time was located approximately 12 miles north of the Tallahassee Regional Airport, on a southerly heading. The controller advised him to turn to a heading of 090 degrees, and during a descent approaching 3,000 feet, the collision occurred. Neither he nor his non-pilot rated passenger observed the other aircraft before the collision. He estimated he had been talking with Tallahassee Approach Control for approximately 5 minutes when the collision occurred. Following the collision, he proceeded to the Tallahassee Regional Airport and landed.

The pilot of the Cessna airplane reported that after departure from runway 34 at 68J, he turned to the east and climbed to about 800 to 1,000 feet, then contacted Tallahassee Approach Control to receive his IFR clearance. The controller initially advised him to stay clear of KTLH airspace, then came back and provided a discrete transponder code (5567). The controller did not advise him his flight was radar identified but advised him to fly heading 090 degrees. While on that heading, the collision occurred. Following the collision he saw the other aircraft turn right, and advised the controller of the collision and that the other aircraft involved was the one turning right. The controller asked him if he could maintain altitude, and he advised the controller that he would like to land at KTLH. The controller initially questioned why, and he advised the controller that he wanted to inspect his airplane. The controller advised him that he had not received the transponder before the collision; he cycled the transponder and the controller then responded that he was receiving it then. He was given vectors to KTLH, and landed uneventfully.

According to a transcript of communications from the Tallahassee Regional Airport Air Traffic Control Tower (KTLH ATCT), the Piper, which was approaching KTLH from the north, was radar identified at 1625:37 and instructed to fly a heading of 090 degrees. At 1625:51, the pilot of the Cessna established contact with the KTLH ATCT by stating, "Tallahassee, Cessna four six one seven charlie off commercial, have an I F R on file to M L B." The controller responded by saying, "maintain V F R, standby and remain clear of charile surface airspace" and assigned the transponder code 5567. After assigning the transponder code, the controller stated, "Centurion one seven charlie, maintain V F R, fly heading of zero niner zero and I'll have a clearance for you in a moment." At 1626:56, the controller instructed the pilot of the Piper to descend to 3000 feet and about two minutes later, instructed him to turn to a heading of 120 degrees. At 1629:22, the controller advised the pilot of the Cessna, "one seven charlie squawk altitude not receiving." Four seconds after that transmission, the pilot of the Cessna stated that he had just had a midair collision with another aircraft. After the collision, the controller confirmed that both pilots still had control of their aircraft, then provided them with radar vectors to KTLH.

The NTSB ATC Group Chairman's Factual Report, which contains radar data of the two accident aircraft, indicates that the Cessna was located less than a mile north-northwest of runway 34 at 68J flying runway heading. At approximately 1625:40, after less than a mile on that heading, the airplane turned to the right on an east-northeast heading. At approximately this same time and about four miles north of 68J, the radar data depicts the Piper initiating a turn from a southerly heading to the 090-degree heading assigned to him by the controller. Both aircraft discontinue their turns at approximately 1626:10. After that time, the flight paths converge and remain in close proximity from 1627:30, until 1629:01. The radar data then shows the Piper making a right turn to the southeast and the Cessna continuing east for approximately one mile until he also makes a right turn to the southeast. Radar tracks for both aircraft show them landing at KTLH. The data track for the Cessna shows no mode C altitude reports from the time of departure until 1634:55, after the midair collision, whereas the Piper shows mode C altitude reports from initial radio contact with TLH ATCT until landing.

Postaccident examination of the Cessna revealed damage to the upper surface of the right wing and spanwise black residue which starts on the upper trailing edge skin and continues to the end of the wingtip. The aluminum skin exhibited a puncture that started approximately two inches from the beginning of the black residue and becomes progressively wider as it approached the wingtip. The upper surface of the wingtip also had black residue on it and was partially separated from the aluminum skin at the screw holes. Examination of the Piper revealed that the left main landing gear strut was bent outward from the fuselage, and the upper and lower left hand, inboard wing skins were buckled.

Ramp and bench testing of both airplane's transponder and pressure altitude reporting systems was performed with FAA oversight. The ramp and bench testing of the transponder and pressure altitude reporting systems of the Piper airplane revealed no discrepancies. The ramp and bench testing of the transponder and pressure altitude reporting systems of the Cessna airplane revealed a 200 feet-per-minute leak in the static system, and the transponder did not transmit the airplane registration during ramp or bench testing with "Mode S All Call Interrogation."

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