PSA Flight 182

Infobox Aircraft accident
name = Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 182



caption = CG render of PSA 182 colliding with N7711G
date = September 25, 1978
type = Mid-air collision
site = San Diego, California
total_injuries = 9 (on ground)
total_fatalities = 144 (7 on ground)
total_survivors = 0
plane1_type = Boeing 727-214
plane1_operator = Pacific Southwest Airlines
plane1_tailnum = airreg|N|533PS|disaster
plane1_origin = Sacramento Int'l Airport
plane1_stopover = Los Angeles Int'l Airport
plane1_destination = San Diego Int'l Airport
plane1_passengers = 128
plane1_crew = 7
plane1_survivors = 0
plane2_type = Cessna 172
plane2_operator = nowrap|Gibbs Flite Center, Inc.citation |publication-date=April 20, 1979 |title=Aircraft Accident Report 79-5 (AAR-79-5) |publication-place=National Transportation Safety Board, hosted by PSA history.org |url=http://www.psa-history.org/museum/NTSBAAR7905.pdf |accessdate=24-12-2007.]
plane2_tailnum = N7711G
plane2_origin = Montgomery Field San Diego, California
plane2_crew = 2
plane2_survivors = 0

Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) Flight 182, registration N533PS, was a Boeing 727-214 commercial airliner that collided over San Diego, California with a private Cessna 172 on September 25, 1978. The death toll of 144 makes it the deadliest aircraft disaster in Californian history to date, and it was the first Pacific Southwest Airlines incident involving fatalities. It was also the deadliest plane crash in the history of the United States until American Airlines Flight 191 went down eight months later.

The Boeing crashed into North Park, a San Diego neighborhood, killing all 135 on board. The two men aboard the Cessna died, as did seven people on the ground, including a family of four. Nine others on the ground were injured and 22 homes were destroyed or damaged.

Incident

Flight 182 was en route to San Diego's Lindbergh Field on a flight from Sacramento, via Los Angeles. It had just begun its final approach into Lindbergh Field at about nine in the morning in full sunlight and clear weather conditions when it overtook the Cessna, which was being flown by two licensed pilots (not by a single student pilot as is often incorrectly stated). One Cessna pilot was 32-year-old Martin B. Kazy Jr., who possessed single-engine, multi-engine and instrument flight ratings, as well as a commercial certificate and an instrument flight instructor certificate. The other, 35-year-old David Boswell, a U.S. Marine Corps sergeant, possessed single-engine, multi-engine ratings and a commercial certificate and was at the time of the accident practicing ILS approaches under the instruction of Kazy in pursuit of his instrument rating. They had departed from Montgomery Field, and were navigating under VFR which did not require the filing of a flight plan.

The impact broke N7711G to pieces. Its vertical stabilizer was not only torn from its fuselage but also bent leftward; its debris fell directly to the ground around 3500 feet from where the 727 went down. PSA 182's right wing was heavily damaged, rendering the plane uncontrollable, and the fuel tank inside it had ruptured and started a fire, when this final conversation took place inside the cockpit:

Flight 182 struck the ground in a high-speed nose-down attitude, while banked 50° to the right. Seismographic readings indicated that the impact occurred at 09:02:07, about 2.5 seconds after the cockpit voice recorder lost power. The coordinates for the Boeing crash site are coord|32|44|37|N|117|07|14|W|region:US-CA_type:landmark|display=inline,title. The largest piece of the Cessna impacted about six blocks away. The initial impact of the jet was approx. 30 feet north of the intersection of Dwight and Nile streets, with the debris field spreading in a northeast to southwesterly direction towards Boundary Street.

Investigation

The NTSB determined that the probable cause of the accident was the failure of the PSA flight crew to follow proper air traffic control (ATC) procedures. Flight 182's crew lost sight of the Cessna in contravention of the ATC's instructions to "keep visual separation from that traffic", and did not alert ATC that they had lost sight of it. Errors on the part of ATC were also named as a contributing factor, including the use of visual separation procedures when radar clearances were available. Additionally the Cessna pilots, for reasons unknown, did not maintain their assigned east-northeasterly heading of 070 degrees after completing a practice instrument approach, nor did they notify ATC of their course change.

A dissenting opinion in the NTSB crash report by member Francis H. McAdams strongly questioned why the unauthorized change in course by the Cessna was not specifically cited as a "contributing factor" in the final report; instead, it was listed as simply a "finding", which carries less weight. McAdams also "sharply disagreed" with the majority of the panel on other issues, giving more weight to inadequate ATC procedures as another "probable cause" to the incident, rather than merely treating them as a contributing factor. McAdams also added the "possible misidentification of the Cessna by the PSA aircrew due to the presence of third unknown aircraft in the area" as a contributing factor. The majority panel members did not cite this as a credible possibility.

Aftermath

In the aftermath of the devastation on the ground, a controversy renewed in San Diego about why such a busy airport should be situated in a heavily populated area. Despite relocation proposals in search of an alternative to San Diego International Airport, the destination for Flight 182 remains in use and is the busiest single-runway commercial airport in the United States. [ [http://www.san.org/airport/airport_facts/index.asp www.san.org] ]

As a result of the collision the NTSB recommended the immediate implementation of a Terminal Radar Service Area around Lindbergh Field to provide for the separation of aircraft, and also recommended an immediate review of control procedures for all busy terminal areas. The impact of these recommendations is reflected in today's arrangement of airspace around Lindbergh Field; a Class B area (formerly referred to as a Terminal Control Area) now exists around Lindbergh to provide for the separation of all aircraft operating in the area.

Staff photographer Hans Wendt of the San Diego County Public Relations Office was attending an outdoor event with a still camera, and was able to take two photographs of the falling Boeing after the collision with the Cessna. [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20060117111045/http://www.sandiegomag.com/issues/august98/psa.shtml sandiegomag.com] ] Cameraman Steve Howell from local TV channel 39 was attending the same event as Wendt, and captured the Cessna on film as it fell to earth. For its coverage of the disaster, The San Diego Evening Tribune, a predecessor to The San Diego Union-Tribune, was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1979 for "Local, General, or Spot News Reporting." [ [http://www.pulitzer.org/cgi-bin/year.pl?1373,20 www.pulitzer.org] ]

One of the victims on board PSA Flight 182 was Alan Tetelman, professor of metallurgy at UCLA and president of Failure Analysis Associates (now Exponent), en route to investigate a U.S. Navy helicopter crash. In addition to the PSA crew of seven, over 30 of the passengers on board Flight 182 were employees of PSA commuting to the airline's San Diego headquarters/base. A memorial plaque honoring everyone who died on both planes and on the ground is located in the San Diego Aerospace Museum, near the Theodore Gildred Flight Rotunda. On the 20th anniversary of the crash, a tree was planted next to the North Park library, and a memorial plaque was dedicated to those who lost their lives. The library is not in the immediate vicinity of the actual crash site, which is completely rebuilt and bears no visible evidence of the crash.

In a fact-following-fiction scenario, the NBC telemovie "Emergency!: Survival on Charter #220" (effectively a two-hour "Emergency!" episode filmed after the show was no longer a weekly series) had been aired in March 1978, six months before the accident involving PSA Flight 182. It detailed the accidental daytime mid-air collision of a Douglas DC-8 airliner and a much smaller two-person aircraft and the resulting crash in a residential area of Los Angeles County.

News footage of the aftermath of the crash was featured in the mondo film "Faces of Death".

ee also

* List of accidents and incidents on commercial airliners
* List of notable mid-air and runway collisions
* Aeroméxico Flight 498, a 1986 collision over a heavily-populated southern California neighborhood, similar to PSA Flight 182, which finally spurred regulatory bodies into action and led to mandatory collision avoidance equipment.

References

* National Transportation Safety Board report NTSB-AAR-79-5
* Macarthur Job (1996). "Air Disaster Volume 2"

External links

* [http://www.psa-history.org/museum/NTSBAAR7905.pdf The full report of the NTSB investigation] - PDF file, 1.8 MB
* [http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19780925-0 Aviation Safety Network accident description]
* [http://www.psa-history.org/museum/crash.htm Article about Flight 182] on PSA History Page
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20060117111045/http://www.sandiegomag.com/issues/august98/psa.shtml San Diego magazine 20th anniversary article about the PSA Disaster] - Archived copy from [http://www.archive.org www.archive.org]
* [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,919842-1,00.html "Death Over San Diego", Time Magazine, October 9, 1978]
* [http://www.10news.com/news/2511324/detail.html TV Channel 10 (in San Diego) 25th Anniversary article with eyewitness accounts]
* [http://www.super70s.com/Super70s/Tech/Aviation/Disasters/78-09-25(PSA).asp PSA Crash Page with map]
* [http://www.airliners.net/search/photo.search?regsearch=N533PS&distinct_entry=true Pre-crash photos of 727 N533PS]
* [http://www.aviationexplorer.com/audio/psa_182.wav Audio of communications between ATC and PSA Flight 182] - WAV file, 535 KB
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LzVyVPFGCI&feature=related Tribute Video to those who lost their lives, and PSA 182]
* [http://video.nbcsandiego.com/player/?id=698941 In Remembrance 30 Years - KNSD NBC San Diego]
* [http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20080926/news_1m26psa.html Air Tragedy Remembered] Union Tribune article about 30th anniversary tribute


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