All three men aboard a Cirrus SR22 died last Wednesday when the airplane crashed while attempting to land at Melbourne International Airport after a controller instructed the pilot to “cut it in tight” to avoid other traffic.
ATC audio recordings show a busy traffic pattern at the time of the crash, as well as some miscommunication between the pilot and controller. After a somewhat muffled transmission between the four-sierra-romeo crash aircraft and ATC, which makes a transmission that includes what sounds like a possible clearance to land, the crash aircraft responds with “Clear to land on nine right.”
Four-sierra-romeo continues to move through the traffic pattern, apparently unaware of another Cirrus aircraft simultaneously coming in on final. Moments later the controller asks four-sierra-romeo, “Do you have the Cirrus, uh, out there on about a mile final for nine right?”
After the pilot of four-sierra-romeo responds that he is already on a short base for 9R, the air traffic controller says, “Sierra-romeo no, I needed you to extend to follow the Cirrus on the mile final. Cut it in tight now, cut it in tight to nine right.”
Witnesses say they then saw the aircraft nose-dive, crashing short of the runway. The crash victims have been identified as 24-year-old James Christopher Franklin, 25-year-old Justin Lee Gaines and 44-year-old Robert W. Kurrus Jr., who was piloting the Cirrus SR22.
The accident is the first fatal crash to take place at Melbourne in approximately 10 years. The NTSB is currently investigating the accident.
Listen to air traffic control audio recordings directly before the crash below.