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Cerritos, California 1986 Mid-Air Collision, Case Study Example

Pages: 4

Words: 968

Case Study

On August 31, 1986, a crash took place in Cerritos, California. This was a mid air collision that occurred between two planes. Aero Mexico flight 498 registered as XA-JED was Douglas DC-9-32 that was en routed to Los Angeles International Airport at Los Angeles City in California, United States from Mexico City in Mexico. It was to have stops at Guadalajara, Loreto and Tijuana. A single engine Piper Archer N4891F, callsign 4891 Foxtrot, which was a private operated Piper PA-28-181 Archer that was owned by Kramer family was en routed to Big Bear City, California from the Torrance also in California (Cliton, John & Kurt, 1992).

These two crashed after colliding over the Cerritos, California. This crash killed all the 67 people in the both aircraft and 15 others who were on the ground where they crashed. In addition to those, other 8 people who were still on the ground sustained some minor injuries due to the crash (Cliton, John & Kurt, 1992).

At around 11:46 AM, the 498 Flight started its journey towards Los Angeles with around 58 passengers and six members of the crew aboard. N4891F had some minutes earlier departed from Torrance with a pilot and two passengers in it. At exactly 11:52 AM, the engine of the Piper collided with horizontal stabilizer of DC-9 and this resulted to the shearing of the piper’s cockpit top resulting to the killing of the pilot and those two passengers in it. The piper that became heavily damaged fell down to an empty playground at an Elementary School of Cerritos (Cliton, John & Kurt, 1992).

The DC-9 inverted and fell to the ground in a neighborhood that was residential at the Holmes Avenue and at the Reva Circle in Cerritos. This plane killed 15 people who were on the ground and all the 64 passengers and its crew. Around five houses were destroyed by fire and the impact with seven other being damaged. Damage was contributed significantly by the fire that was sparked by the crash. When the controller of the aircraft who was assigned that Flight 498 was unable to find the air craft on radar called the inbound American Airlines jet for the assistance. The American Airline flight 333 pilot replied and said that he saw a very large smoke coming off from his left which indicated that the Flight 498 had crashed (Larry, 1996).

The casualties of the DC-9 were 1 passenger from Colombia, 1 passenger from El Salvador, 20 passengers and 6 crew members from Mexico and 36 passengers from United States. Of the 20 Mexican citizens, 11 lived in the United States and 9 lived in Mexico. The El Salvador citizen lived in the Bay Shore area in Islip town, New York. 10 out of all the passengers were identified as children. Of all those passengers on Tijuana-Los Angeles leg, 2 boarded the plane in the Mexico City, 6 boarded it in Guadalajara, 31 boarded at the Loreto Airport and 19 boarded in Tijuana (Larry, 1996).

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation found out that the N4891F; the Piper had deviated into Terminal Control Area of LAX. It was out of the radio contact with the air traffic control, that had been distracted by another flight entering in his control area without having been given or received the clearance. Furthermore, the Piper was not equipped with the Mode C transponder that indicates the attitude hence it would have indicated its attitude. The LAX also had not been equipped with the warning systems that are automatic (Larry, 1996).

Apparently none of the pilots was able to sight another because they were no tempted evasive maneuvers although they were in a range that was visual. There was revealed significant arterial blockage by the autopsy in the Piper’s pilot heart. The public was speculating that the pilot of the Pipe had suffered a heart attack that caused incapacitation and ended up causing the accident or collision. However this was discounted by the forensic evidence. It was finally concluded that the error was caused by the Piper pilot hence the main contributing factor of the collision (Norma, Norman & Carl, 1999).

Due to this mid air accident and others which are near mid-air collisions (NMAC) in the terminal controlling areas, the Federal Aviation Administration said that all the commercial aircraft to be equipped with the collision avoidance systems (TCAS) and traffic alerts and also added that it required the light aircrafts operating in the areas with dense airspaces be equipped with transponders that are Mode C that can report a position that is three dimensional (Norma, Norman & Carl, 1999).

It was ruled by the jury that Aeromexico plane had no fault, but instead he decided Kramer and FAA each acted negligently equal and they were to bear equal responsibility. The U.S. District Judge David Kenyon agreed that FAA shared the same responsibility (Norma, Norman & Carl, 1999).

A new sculpture garden that featured a memorial to the accident victims was dedicated. This was on March 11, 2006 at the city of Cerritos. Kathleen Caricof an artist designed the sculpture that consisted three pieces. One of the pieces looked like a big wing that commemorates victims who were in Aeromexico jet. The smaller wing but similar commemorates the Piper victims with the third piece, that is a bench commemorates the victims on the ground. The bench allows the visitors to sit on it and reflect about the disaster (Sanh, 2006).

References

Cliton, V. O., John, S. S., & Kurt, M. Z. (1992). why airplanes crash: aviation safety in A changing world. London: Oxford Press.

Larry Gerber. (1996). Cerritos crash changed the way we fly. New York: Doyle press.

Norma, S. G., Norman, L. F.,& Carl, A. M. (1999). Children and disasters. The series in trauma and loss. New York: Psychology Press.

Sanh J. verte. (2006). Sculpture Garden dedication. London: Hanser press.

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