On November 14, 2008, about 1533 Alaska Standard time, a Cessna 152, N47417, and a Cessna 182R, N9772H, collided in midair about .5 miles from the approach end of runway 19L at the Fairbanks International Airport, Fairbanks, Alaska. The Cessna 152 was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) local area instructional flight, and received minor damage. The Cessna 182R was being operated as a Civil Air Patrol (CAP) VFR positioning flight as CAP Flight 5043, and sustained substantial damage. Both airplanes were operated under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, when the accident occurred. The certificated flight instructor (CFI) in the right seat, and the student pilot in the left seat of the Cessna 152, were not injured. The private pilot in the left seat, and the pilot-rated passenger in the right seat of the Cessna 182R, were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) personnel from the Fairbanks Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) reported that the Cessna 182R had been cleared by controllers at the Fairbanks Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) for landing on runway 19L, and was on final approach. The Cessna 152 was on a right downwind traffic pattern for landing on runway 19L, and was number two for landing. The pilot of the Cessna 152 was told to extend his downwind pattern, and then to do a right 360 degree turn to allow additional spacing between landing airplanes. Instead, the pilot of the Cessna 152 made a left 360 degree turn. The left wingtip of the Cessna 152 struck the rudder of the Cessna 182R. Both airplanes landed safely.
During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) on November 14, the flight instructor of the Cessna 152 reported that he was on a right downwind for landing, and the student pilot was at the controls. The flight instructor said that he was told by the ATCT specialist to extend his downwind pattern, which he did, and then turned base. He said that the CAP Cessna 182R was "in sight," and he heard the CAP airplane being cleared for landing by the ATCT specialist. He turned final for landing, and about 300 feet agl, the nose of the CAP airplane appeared under his airplane. He applied full power and began a left climbing turn. The ATCT specialist advised him to make a right 360 degree turn, but he was already in a left turn, and advised ATCT of his actions. He then asked the ATCT specialist to visually check his landing gear as he flew past the tower, and was told that the “gear appears good.” He then landed without further incident. After landing, he discovered the leading edge of the left wing was flattened and dented at the tip, and the wingtip fairing was cracked and broken.
In a telephone conversation with the NTSB IIC on November 17, the pilot of the Cessna 182R reported that he initially departed Eielson Air Force Base, Fairbanks, to move the CAP airplane to the Fairbanks International Airport. He did some touch and go landings at Fort Wainwright Air Base, Fairbanks, and then flew towards Fairbanks International. He was established on a long final approach, and then was cleared to land on runway 19L. He heard the ATCT specialist clear other airplanes as number two and three to land, and heard another pilot say that traffic was "in sight." During the landing approach, the pilot heard a "bang" and the airplane yawed, but he saw no other airplanes. He thought that the airplane had been struck by a bird, so he asked the ATCT specialist to visually check his landing gear. He was advised that all three landing gear were visible, so he completed the landing. After landing, he discovered that the top right side of the rudder had sustained denting, and the rudder cap was broken and missing. The pilot was under the impression that his airplane had been struck by a bird until FAA Fairbanks FSDO personnel arrived to begin their investigation.
The Fairbanks International Airport is equipped with two parallel hard-surfaced runways on a 190 to 010 degree magnetic orientation. Runway 19L is 6,500 feet long and 100 feet wide. The threshold of runway 19L begins about 4,300 feet past the threshold of runway 19R. It is preceded by a gravel surfaced ski strip that is 3,500 feet long.
During VFR conditions, aircraft in a terminal area are primarily separated by ATCT personnel via visual means and radio communication, as noted in the Air Traffic Controller Handbook, Section 7-2-1. In addition, the ATCT controller should advise pilots if their radar targets appear likely to converge.
The airport is served by a terminal radar approach control facility (TRACON); consisting of an Automated Radar Terminal System (ARTS) radar installed about 5 miles east of the airport. The tower cab is equipped with a digital bright radar indicator tower equipment (D-BRITE) radar repeater display at the local control position. The D-BRITE system is designed to display primary and secondary (transponder) radar returns of aircraft and alphanumeric target generated by the ARTS to positions in the ATC tower. The equipment is specifically intended to present usable visual display in the tower of the traffic inbound/outbound to the respective runways during both day and night conditions.
According to the Air Traffic Controller Handbook, Section 3-1-9, the D-BRITE radar display augments visual observations by tower personnel, and may be used as an aid to determine an aircraft's identification, exact location, or special relationship to other aircraft.
Communications and Radar Data
Air to ground radio communications tapes of the local control position, and radar plot data maintained by the FAA at the Fairbanks ATCT facility, was reviewed by the NTSB IIC. The radar plot data was recorded and presented in a visual and table format about every 5 seconds. The review revealed that the Cessna 152 was initially on a right downwind traffic pattern, and was "cleared for the option" [either touch and go or a full stop landing] about 1527:06. The Cessna 152 was told that it was number three for landing, following a Courier airplane that was about 3 miles to the east. The Cessna 182R reported inbound for landing about 1529:50, and was told to enter a left base for landing.
About 1530:46, the Cessna 152 was told to extend its downwind pattern, and now was number 2 for landing, following the Cessna 182R that was about 3 miles northeast, which was entering a dogleg to join the final approach for landing. About 1531:38, the Cessna 182R was cleared to land.
About 1532:14, the ATCT controller asked the pilot of the Cessna 152 if they had landing traffic ahead, and the pilot replied "affirmative." The pilot was told to "follow that traffic."
The radar plot data indicated that at 1532:33, the Cessna 152 was in a right turn onto the final approach heading, at 1,300 feet msl. At the same time, the Cessna 182R was at 800 feet msl, to the left and ahead of the Cessna 152.
At 1532:38, the Cessna 152 was at 1,200 feet, and at the same time, the Cessna 182R was at 800 feet, but closer to, and still to the left and ahead of the Cessna 152.
At 1532:42, both airplanes were nearly adjacent to each other, with the Cessna 182R slightly ahead of the Cessna 152. The altitude data for each airplane was not recorded.
Between 1532: 42, and 1533:27, there is no recorded radar plot data for the Cessna 152; however, about 1533:17, the ATCT controller told the pilot of the Cessna 152 to make a 360 degree turn to the right. Two different voices acknowledged the radio transmission, but about 1533:27, the pilot radioed that he was making a left 360 degree turn. The ATCT controller acknowledged the radio call, and at 1533:27, the radar plot data showed that the Cessna 152 was at 600 feet, beginning a left 360 degree turn. The Cessna 152 completed the 360 degree turn at 1534:00, and then continued along the landing approach heading.
From 1532: 42 to 1533:32, when the radar plot data showed the Cessna 182R at 600 feet, there was no recorded radar plot data. At 1533:41 and 500 feet, the pilot of the Cessna 182R radioed that he was "on a go-around," and reported a vibration in his rudder. He was still on the landing approach heading. He then asked the ATCT controller to verify that he had all three landing gear, and the ATCT replied to the affirmative. The Cessna 182R landed without further incident.
About 1534:13, the pilot of the Cessna 152 was told by ATCT to "go around." About 1534:34, the pilot of the Cessna 152 also inquired about the status of his landing gear, and was told by ATCT that they were “O.K.” The Cessna 152 completed a left downwind landing pattern and landed without further incident.
A transcript of the air to ground communications between the airplane and the Fairbanks ATCT facilities, along with a copy of radar plot data of the accident airplanes, is included in the public docket of this accident.
At 1553, an aviation routine weather report (METAR) at Fairbanks was reporting, in part: Wind, calm; visibility, 10 statute miles; clouds and sky condition, few at 10,000 feet, 20,000 feet scattered; temperature, -2 degrees F; dew point, -8 degrees F; altimeter, 29.84 inHg.