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Facts About Midair Collisions

Midair Collisions
An artist’s rendition of one of the first midair collisions.

Near-Midair Collisions Reported Each Year: Approximately 200
Actual Collisions: Between 15 and 25

Fatal: 70%

Distance From Airport Most Occur: Within 5 miles
Average Altitude: Less than 1,000 feet
Typical Meteorological Conditions: VFC
Most Common Time: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., weekends

Percent Occurring Within Traffic Pattern: Around half

During Takeoff/Climb: 10%
At Non-Towered Airports: 78%
Cases Involving No Radio Communication: About half
Cases Involving A CFI: 37%
Average Experience Of Pilots Involved: 5,000 flight hours
Common Scenario: Low-wing converging on high-wing
Less-Common: Formation flying, air-to-air photography

Collision Avoidance Technique Pushed By FAA: “See and avoid”
Critical Aspect: Traffic scanning
Also Known As: Keeping head on a swivel
Recommended Method: Block system scanning
# of Blocks To Divide The Sky: 9-12
Size For Each Block: 10-15° horizontally, 10° vertically
Minimum Area To Scan Around Intended Flight Path: 60° side-to-side, 10° up/down
Average Seconds Needed For An Effective Scan: 20

Technology Designed To Prevent Mid-Airs: Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS)
How It Works: Monitors traffic, generates warnings (TAs) and mandatory actions (RAs)
Percent Of TCAS Advisories Ignored By Pilots: 11%

Deadliest Mid-Air: 1996 Charkhi Dadri collision
Fatalities: 349
Survivors: 0
Experience Of Captain At Fault: 9,200 flight hours
Aftermath: TCAS required on commercial flights worldwide

U.S. Midair Resulting In Sole Survivor (Initially): New York City, 1960 
Aircraft Involved: United DC-8, TWA Super Constellation
Fatalities: 134
On Board: 128
On Ground: 6


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