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Clash over Los Angeles DC-9 Aeromexico and private Piper Cherokee
Clash over Los Angeles DC-9 Aeromexico and private Piper Cherokee

Clash over Los Angeles

DC-9 Aeromexico and private Piper Cherokee


            International Airport in Los Angeles - It is one of the busiest airports in the world. Every year they are 40 million passengers. More 1500 planes take off and land there every day.


31 1986 year in August. On the day the air traffic regulated Walter White. He was the manager, who was not yet fully trained.


Manager: It was a difficult weekend and a beautiful day in Los Angeles. The sky was perfectly clear. Walter asked me to put his control. I allowed him. He wanted to work for the sake of training.





At that time, hundreds of miles from the United States, passengers sat on the board DC-9Which belonged to the company "Aeromexico". Someone was coming home from vacation, and someone was flying on business. To the east of Los Angeles, Cerritos town slowly waking up from a dream. Many people were at home and rested. After a few hours flight 498 was on approach to the airport. By coincidence, at the same time from a small airport in Torrance flew a private plane Piper Cherokee. In it the family of local engineer flew to rest.


Piper Cherokee

Piper Cherokee


The work of Walter White was to make sure that arriving planes are at a sufficient distance. In 11: 47 he received the first call from the flight 498. On the instructions of the controller aircraft began to descend to an altitude of 6000 meters. At that time, William Kramer Piper Cherokee continued to rise. Suddenly, Walter White has attracted the attention of a private plane that flew without permission in the area of ​​supervisory control LAX. While the dispatcher sent him overboard 498 continued to approach.


Suddenly the plane DC-9 rocked by a strong impact. Airliner dramatically lowered the nose and went into a nosedive. Walter White tried to contact the crew, but he could not. Despite all the efforts of the pilots, a huge plane fell and crashed into a densely populated district of Cerritos.


Eyewitness: I saw a huge explosion. As if the earth bomb fell.


In the control room were all confused. They did not know what happened to the plane. To clarify the situation, the dispatcher contacted other airliner, which was flying in the area. Its pilots have confirmed the worst fears. They saw a smokescreen on the ground there, where he was to fly DC-9.


Meanwhile, in Cerritos raging fire. Fire was everywhere. Fire immediately moved to help. When firefighters arrived, they saw a terrible picture. Even many were shocked to see the rescuers.


Local resident: My house was completely in flames. I did not know where my family. I soon learned that only one survived my son.


16 houses were damaged. Many of them are completely burned. At the airport to meet could not wait for their relatives.


A relative of the dead: I went to the airport to meet her husband and sons. I waited a very long time. After that, all the greeters was taken to a separate room. They told us that the plane crashed and all died.


Cerritos emergency workers were shocked by yet another discovery. On the playground of the local school, they found the wreckage of the aircraft Piper Cherokee. If there is no visible damage, the roof of the cab has been cut off. His three passengers were found dead. In total, the disaster killed 82 person. What went wrong? Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSB) had to find out.


From the beginning, investigators have focused on the fact that on the ground there were two aircraft. This led to the idea of ​​a collision in the air. The investigators examined the crash site thoroughly to determine how the aircraft moved to the fall, and the angle at which they might encounter. Soon they found the wreckage of DC-9 scratches and paint with a Piper Cherokee.


disaster dc-9


Investigator: It seems that the Piper Cherokee struck in the rear compartment of an aircraft. Because of this tailplane failed. When this happens, control the height of the flight is no longer possible.


The declining DC-9 and the climbing Piper Cherokee collided at an angle of 90 degrees. Their total speed was 450 km / h. Because of the impact, the tail section of the airliner came off. The investigators found out what had happened. But they were more worried about how this could happen. To collect the circumstances of the tragedy together, experts began to study the on-board recorders DC-9. This allowed to determine the exact position and height of the airliner at the time of the collision. DC-9 was in the controlled airspace of the airport. But Piper Cherokee was there too. Private aircraft must obtain permission to enter this zone. Although the deceased pilot of a private jet was not local, he knew about the limitations of the flight in the airport zone. Also, looking through the documents from the Piper Cherokee booth, the investigators found out that their route was to go far from the airport. Experts examined the medical map of the pilot Piper Cherokee. As it turned out, he suffered from a heart condition. Perhaps he had a heart attack, and so the plane lost control. Samples of heart tissue by William Cramer were sent for analysis.


disaster dc-9


Regardless of being a pilot Piper Cherokee, the dispatcher had to see it on your radar screen. But the interrogation Walter White told investigators that Piper Cherokee did not show up on the radar.


Investigator: He was sure that there was not that plane. He could not see it.


Experts remain unmet Memories White. Meanwhile came the analysis of cardiac tissue pilot. They showed that although Kramer and suffered from progressive heart disease, he did not have a heart attack before the collision. After careful research, the experts seem to understand why the Piper Cherokee appeared near the airport.


Expert: Piper Cherokee pilot flew the plane with the help of landmarks. Perhaps he was trying to follow along the motorway. But he stumbled along a highway he had to fly.


Arriving in California and confused by the interlacing of high-speed roads, Kramer could fly into the airspace of the airport without knowing it. After some time the investigators made another loud statement. The dispatcher could see Kramer's plane on his radar. Although the airport equipment was obsolete, the investigators had no reason to believe that it was faulty. Due to the difficult terrain, some targets could be lost from the radar for a few seconds. However, this is just a temporary phenomenon, which took place very quickly. There was also a suggestion that the dispatcher might not notice the approaching Piper Cherokee due to another private aircraft that also flew into the airport zone without permission.


Investigator: Was the aircraft to the east of the airport. This was the so-called offender. At the critical moment when the two aircraft were flying towards each other, the controller for too long talking to the intruder.


Another challenge for the manager was that he did not have all the information about Piper Cherokee. Radar at the airport showing a position and direction of flight of the aircraft. In turn, the aircraft transponders indicated dispatcher speed and altitude. Technical Study Piper Cherokee revealed that on board was installed base relay. He was not handed over to the control tower data on speed and altitude of the aircraft.


Investigator: Controllers are used to seeing a lot of small triangles on the screen that indicate the Air Force planes. When they do not get the data from the pilot, it is assumed that the plane did not invade its airspace, as military pilots know the rules of the air near the airport.


disaster dc-9


Investigators believed that Walter White dispatched his attention and did not warn DC-9 about a private jet. Soon another discovery shocked the investigators. As the data showed, neither the pilots of the airliner, nor Kramer took any action to avoid a collision. It seems they did not even know about each other. To get a better idea of ​​what is happening on board the flight 498, investigators listened to the recording of voice recorders. Unfortunately, the recording was too poor quality to make out something. And the picture from the radar was simply confusing. According to him, Piper Cherokee was in the field of view of the pilots DC-9 for longer than a minute! And if the Cramers looked out of the side window, they would also see a huge airliner. But no aircraft has changed its course. No aircraft took any action.


Expert: Pilots DC-9 You might not notice a small plane Cramer. In some cases, planes converge too quickly. When a ship becomes visible it is already too late to do something.


Also, construction glazing DC-9 could prevent pilots to see an approaching aircraft. A small Piper Cherokee could be hidden behind a vertical stand. It simply could not be seen.


The catastrophe of Cerritos identified several unfortunate weaknesses in the management of air traffic. One of them is the most obvious: it was impossible to rely on the pilots. They did not see each other, as is often the case. The Federal Aviation Administration reacted very quickly to increase safety. Smaller aircraft required a new type of transponder with which managers could find that a private plane is dangerous.


Investigator: If the plane flies through the airspace of dispatching service and transmits data about yourself, the probability of error is eliminated. It does not matter whether there is an intruder or not.


Also, a new system was developed to warn dispatchers about violators. Thus, ground personnel had the opportunity to warn pilots before the onset of a critical situation. The most important innovation was the introduction of a warning system about the threat of a collision. This system constantly monitors the air situation and tells the pilot about the danger in 45 seconds before a possible collision. Today all commercial airlines use this system to improve the safety of passenger traffic. Dispatcher Walter White was never able to recover from the shock. A few months later he left the dispatch service and never sat behind the radar screen. Within a year after the accident, the old locators at Los Angeles Airport were replaced.


Since in the United States there have been no collisions in the air. Today the only reminder of the catastrophe memorial to the victims of the tragedy, which is installed in Cerritos.


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