Canada’s TSB Reports on Virginia Midair

First details of crash involving NTSB, FAA employees’ airplanes.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has released its first docket of factual information surrounding the May midair collision of a Beech Bonanza and Piper Cherokee near Warrenton, Virginia, involving airplanes owned by an NTSB and FAA employee. The NTSB has asked the Canadian agency to take the lead in the investigation to avoid potential conflicts of interest.

According to the TSB report, on May 28 at 4:05 p.m. a Beechcraft V35B Bonanza owned by, Dr. James Duncan, an NTSB employee, was in a shallow climb headed southbound when it collided with a Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee owned by Thomas Proven, an FAA employee, which was in level flight headed in a southeasterly direction.

As a result of the collision, the Bonanza broke up in flight and Duncan and his flight instructor, Paul Gardela, were killed in the crash. Proven was able to conduct a forced landing in a pasture about 6 nm south of the Warrenton-Fauquier Airport (HWY). He was taken to hospital and later released.

According to its Aug. 22 update, both of the airplanes and pilots were properly certified and equipped for flight in the area under VFR. Weather at nearby Warrenton was consistent with good VFR conditions. After departing Culpeper Airport (CJR) in Virginia, the pilot of the Cherokee leveled at 2,000 feet and requested a practice instrument approach into HWY 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 said it is analyzing 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. A final report is not expected until sometime next year.


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