Canada’s TSB Updates Virginia Midair

 - August 27, 2012, 3:30 PM

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada has updated its investigation of the May 28 midair collision between a Beechcraft Bonanza and a Piper PA-28 over the Washington, D.C. suburb of Summerduck, Va. The TSB is handling the investigation at the request of NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman to avoid any potential conflicts of interest because the two victims aboard the Bonanza were U.S. government employees.

The pilot, Dr. James Duncan, was employed by the NTSB, while his passenger, Paul Gardella, worked for the FAA. The pilot of the PA-28, Thomas Proven, survived the accident.

According to its August 22 update, the TSB has “extensively photographed and documented all major aircraft components [that] were located. The team reviewed eyewitness statements taken by local law-enforcement officials, and interviewed the surviving pilot. FAA air traffic radar data, along with flight-path information recorded on a GPS in the Cherokee, were retrieved.” The TSB said both aircraft and pilots were properly certified and equipped for flight in the area under visual flight rules (VFR). Weather at nearby Warrenton was consistent with good VFR conditions.

After departing Culpeper Airport (CJR) in Virginia, the pilot of the Cherokee–level at 2,000 feet–requested a practice instrument approach into Warrenton Airport from Potomac Tracon. The Tracon controller was in the process of radar-identifying the Cherokee when the two aircraft collided, just after the Tracon’s collision alert alarm sounded on the controller’s console.

The TSB is analysing the field-of-view from each aircraft to determine the effectiveness of “see and be seen” as a defense for aircraft flying under VFR, as well as FAA policies and procedures regarding controller responses to collision alerts between VFR aircraft.