Friday, May 28, 2010

2006 Mid-Air Collision Brazil - Part 1

Embraer Legacy 600 
Photographed by Adrian Pingstone in March 2009 and released to the public domain.

(364 words)
     Since I brought up the subject of mid-air collisions in my last post, I thought it might be appropriate to look at this particular example of a recent one.  I have been following the developments of the investigation of this mid-air collision that took place in the airspace of Brazil on September 29, 2006, almost four years ago.

The fact the Internet has made a lot more information easily available is a taken for granted today.  If I attempted to gather information concerning this specific accident which happened in Brazil without the Internet, I would have most likely given up.

In particular, I used three internet sources for the majority of my information.  Wikipedia was my most used site however the richest source was the 280 page Accident Investigation Report by the Brazilian Air Force.

The third source was the most dramatic source since it contained the actual cockpit voice recorder recordings of both aircraft. This source was an article titled "The Devil at 37,000 Feet" that appeared on the Vanity Fair Magazine's web site written by William Langewiesche dated January 2009.I have been around the flying world for along time and this is the first time I have ever listened to the actual recording of an aircraft accident and it turned out to be personally an emotional experience.

These recordings have also been placed on the YouTube web site.

This mid-air collision had seven survivors.  All on board the Embraer Legacy 600, N600XL survived. The number of fatalities was 154.  All 148 passengers and the six crew members on board Gol Transportes Aereos Flight 1907 were killed. No one on the ground was injured or killed.

Both of these aircraft had the latest and greatest collision warning and collision avoidance equipment installed.  Both of these aircraft were being controlled by a modern air traffic control system using radar for separation purposes.  And both were crewed by professional pilots with extensive flight experience.  Neither aircraft had strayed off the course cleared to fly by Air Traffic Control. Yet, a mid-air collision actually happened and 154 people are dead.

Why did this collision happen?
(See Part 2 in my next post which lists contributory issues.)