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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: ANC15LA033A
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Sunday, May 31, 2015 in Talkeetna, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/11/2016
Aircraft: CESSNA 185, registration: N1694M
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor, 4 Uninjured.

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

A Cessna 185 airplane was operating as a commercial air tour flight with five passengers on board in day, visual meteorological conditions. A student pilot was operating a Cessna 172 as a solo cross-country flight; both aircraft were landing on the same runway. The Cessna 185 entered the traffic pattern on an extended right base about 2.5 miles from the end of the runway, and the pilot was following procedures established by local commercial air tour operators, which did not include information about reporting points or describe nonstandard traffic pattern entry procedures; this information is contained in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) publications. The other airplane was also in the right traffic pattern for the same runway, and the student pilot was following the prescribed, FAA-recommended right traffic pattern procedures.
A review of recorded radio communications from the common traffic advisory frequency revealed that the student pilot made position reports 10 miles from the airport, 5 miles from the airport, directly over midfield, on the right downwind leg, and when turning from the base to final leg. The commercial pilot made two position reports: one at a visual flight rules reporting point and a second one during which he stated that he was No. 2 on the base leg for the runway even though he was actually No. 3. The student pilot turned his airplane onto the final approach leg behind the airplane that was No. 2 on the base leg for the runway. While on short final, the Cessna 185 impacted the Cessna 172 from behind, above, and slightly to the right, which resulted in the Cessna 185 straddling the Cessna 172. The two airplanes remained conjoined until ground impact. The commercial pilot reported that he never saw the other airplane. If the commercial pilot had followed the FAA-recommended traffic pattern procedures, he might have been able to see the Cessna 172 and avoid hitting it.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot’s failure to maintain an adequate visual lookout, which resulted in a midair collision. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's failure to follow Federal Aviation Administration-recommended traffic pattern procedures.