To: (Separate email addresses with commas)
From: (Your email address)
Message: (Optional)
Send
Cancel

Thanks!

Close

Avoiding Midair Collisions

Photo Credit: Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News

Avoiding Midair Collisions

It seems to happen every Summer. Seven people were killed Friday when a beaver and cub had a midair collision near Soldotna, Alaska. On May 13th of last year, a Beaver and Otter collided near George Inlet, Alaska; killing 6 and injuring 10. In 2018? Four were killed on a training flight in Sweetwater, FL when a Piper PA-31 and Cessna 172 collided.

As we move into the age of modern cockpit avionics and onboard traffic collision avoidance systems, one would think that the number of midair collisions would be declining among other general aviation accident trends.

So why is it that the number of midair collisions, reported annually, has rarely changed over the last 18 years?

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, mid-air collisions remain on the top 10 list as being a leading cause of general aviation accidents resulting in fatalities.

Having a good visual scan and minimizing “heads down” time is important to maintain traffic separation. But even so, this only guards against a mere five percent of mid-air collisions. According to AOPA’s Air Safety Institute, eighty-two percent of midair collisions happen from the rear of the aircraft. So how do we mitigate the risk of a midair if we can’t even see other traffic?

  • Fly at the proper VFR altitudes. Remember, when flying at VFR altitudes above 3,000′ AGL; between zero to 179 degrees, fly odd thousands plus five hundred (ex: 5,500 MSL), and between 180 to 359 degrees, fly even thousands plus five hundred (ex: 4,500′ MSL).
  • Before entering a turn in a high-wing aircraft, lift the wing and ensure there is no potential traffic conflict.
  • When performing clearing turns, do your first turn to the left. If someone is in the process of overtaking you from behind, the proper action is to overtake on the right. Turning to the left will mitigate the possibility of a midair should someone be attempting to overtake you.
  • Equip your aircraft with ADS-B in & out.
  • Use flight following and enlist the help of your passengers. It’s always good to have another pair of eyes watching out for traffic.

 

While many think that mid-airs are most likely to occur en-route, such as when on an airway or crossing a VOR, nearly half of midair collisions actually occur in the traffic pattern, with a majority of those being at non-towered airports where traffic separation is not provided. The most common location of impact is on final or over the runway.

So what can we do in an uncontrolled airport environment to prevent collisions from occurring?

  • Be familiar with and use VFR waypoints (reporting points) for position reports.
  • Be familiar with your aircraft blind spots (either high wing or low wing) and use recommended techniques to mitigate them.
  • Tune and verify you are on the correct frequency, at minimum, ten miles from the airport. If on with approach control, use your second radio to monitor traffic in the area.
  • Report your position and intentions when 10 miles out from the airport. Listen for other traffic reports and report entering downwind, turning base, and turning final.
  • Identify the airport at the beginning and end of every transmission.
  • If you begin to wonder about the location of another aircraft, just ask.
  • Be aware of NORDO (No radio) traffic operating in the area or in the pattern.
  • Check behind you and below you when on final to ensure no other traffic.
  • When outbound, report your position, and be aware that many others don’t do this.
  • Report distance in miles rather than navigational fixes. (Both VFR and IFR)

 

In addition to non-towered operations, runway incursions are becoming a growing issue at towered airports; Hence the FAA’s emphasis area on runway incursions in nearly every ACS and PTS. Runway incursions commonly happen either due to complacency or unfamiliarity with the airfield.

We can practice a few techniques to assist in avoiding runway incursions:

  • Listen carefully and intently to taxi instructions and read them back. It is easy to become complacent and take an incorrect turn if the taxi route differs from what you are used to.
  • Review the airport taxi diagram prior to departing or arriving.
  • If unsure, ask for a progressive taxi.
  • Before entering the runway (either for departure or to cross), ensure there is no traffic on final.
  • Pay close attention at airports with parallel runways.

 

We can all do our part to mitigate and improve general aviation’s safety record in regard to midairs. If you are a student pilot, ensure you are working in the techniques above; and if you are an instructor, make sure to teach them to your student!

If you’d like to learn more about runway incursion procedures, you can check out our “Runway Incursion Avoidance” audio lecture in our CFI PTS: Explained in Detail course, accessible here!

 

Subscription Options

  • Track Your Progress
  • Unlimited Retakes of Courses
  • Access to Premium Private Pilot Ground School
  • Private Pilot Written Prep BootCamp
  • Rusty Pilot Course
  • Crosswind Landings
  • Alaskan Pilot Ground School
  • Free One-on-one Oral Prep
  • Checkride Prep Material
  • Costs Less then an Hour of Airplane Rental, and You're Guaranteed to Pass Your Exam!
  • Everything from Flight Engineer Level Included
  • PPL | IFR | CPL | CFI
  • Access every course we offer!
  • Get live support 7 days/ week
  • Professional Pilot MasterClass
  • Free One-on-one Oral Prep
  • Lifetime Access!
  • All Benefits from First Officer Level Included
  • Custom, One-on-one Live Checkride Prep with One of our CFI's for up to 3 of your Checkrides
  • Guaranteed To PASS Your Checkride, or I'll Pay For It
  • Access all of our courses you see on the site for life (over 25 courses)!
  • FREE FLY8MA T-shirt!

Recommended Stories

  • On May 12th, at approximately 11:47 AM, the Blue Angels were performing a formation flyover in Detroit to honor first responders and medical staff battling COVID-19. The flyover was appropriately titled the “Detroit America Strong Flyover”. In the total time of four minutes that the Blue Angels were operating over the city of Detroit, an […]
  • Ever wonder if you would make decisions that could end with you crashing an airplane? Take the free course below to examine a fatal aircraft accident and see the choices made by the pilot the led to the accident, along with all of the other external factors.  Be sure to take the quizzes and see […]
  • 180 Step Turn Accident Analysis  On September 2nd, 2018, a Cessna 180 on floats began its takeoff roll from Yakutat Harbor. It was a beautiful, clear day with no ceiling and visibility greater than 10 miles. Mount Saint Elias towered over Yakutat bay.  The winds were blowing out of the North-Northwest at approximately 8 knots. […]
    • Jon K
    • September 25, 2020
  • They entered and flew below the canyon walls. Although the Private Pilot had flown through this canyon once before; it was with a flight instructor,  in the opposite direction of travel, and in a slower airplane. Approximately two miles into the canyon, they encountered a tight turn, which the pilot was not able to successfully navigate.  The aircraft impacted terrain about 500 ft above the river, and 200 ft below the canyon wall. 

Latest Stories

  • After practicing some maneuvers on an instructional flight, the student and instructor of this Cessna 172S returned to the Mansfield Municipal Airport to land just after noon on February 23rd, 2019. Conditions: VFR, winds light and variable, sky clear, 10SM visibility. The CFI: Age 32 368 hours total time, 150hrs in C172. The Student: New student, […]
  • 180 Step Turn Accident Analysis  On September 2nd, 2018, a Cessna 180 on floats began its takeoff roll from Yakutat Harbor. It was a beautiful, clear day with no ceiling and visibility greater than 10 miles. Mount Saint Elias towered over Yakutat bay.  The winds were blowing out of the North-Northwest at approximately 8 knots. […]
  • On May 12th, at approximately 11:47 AM, the Blue Angels were performing a formation flyover in Detroit to honor first responders and medical staff battling COVID-19. The flyover was appropriately titled the “Detroit America Strong Flyover”. In the total time of four minutes that the Blue Angels were operating over the city of Detroit, an […]
  •   Are you ready for your IFR Checkride? Check out our latest IFR Oral Exam video below and test your instrument knowledge against our IFR Checkride Quiz!   To view all of our full length IFR Oral Exam videos, click here to be taken to our Instrument Course.   Are you ready? Read through the […]
  • They entered and flew below the canyon walls. Although the Private Pilot had flown through this canyon once before; it was with a flight instructor,  in the opposite direction of travel, and in a slower airplane. Approximately two miles into the canyon, they encountered a tight turn, which the pilot was not able to successfully navigate.  The aircraft impacted terrain about 500 ft above the river, and 200 ft below the canyon wall. 
  • The Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice on Friday stating that they will not be enforcing medical certificate currency for pilots whose medical expires after March 30th. Pilot medicals of any class that expire after this date can be used until June 30th, with no enforcement action or penalty. The FAA stated that it made […]
    • CFI
    • March 29, 2020
  • The Federal Aviation Administration recently rolled out a new system to schedule FAA knowledge tests. Check out our new YouTube video above to learn how to obtain your FTN number and schedule your written, hassle free!
    • CFI
    • March 25, 2020
  • Are you getting ready for your CFI checkride? We are introducing a new CFI LIVE series to help you get the answers you need to be prepared! Be sure to leave your CFI questions in the YT comments for our next CFI Live series video! 
    • CFI
    • February 12, 2020
  • So whether you are currently a Sport Pilot, or simply working towards your sport pilot and decide you want to go for the full private pilot certificate.  The process really is quite simple, and we’ll cover both scenarios for you below. If you are currently a Sport Pilot: Converting a current Sport Pilot certificate to […]
  • Now flying on the airlines is stressful enough, and a nice cup of tea or coffee once you sit down on the plane might make you feel better, but this is why you should never EVER drink the coffee or tea on any airliner, anywhere! Let’s start with where the water comes from. It comes […]
Share on Twitter

@

Not recently active