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A mid-air collision is an aviation accident in which two or more aircraft come into contact during flight. Owing to the relatively high velocities involved and any subsequent impact on the ground or sea, very severe damage or the total destruction of at least one of the aircraft involved usually results.
The potential for a mid-air collision is increased by miscommunication, mistrust, error in navigation, deviations from flight plans, and the lack of collision-avoidance systems. Although a rare occurrence due to the vastness of open space available, collisions often happen near or at airports, where large volume of aircraft and closer spacing compared to general flight is present.
First recorded mid air collision
The first recorded collision between aircraft occurred at the 'Milano Circuito Aereo Internazionale' meeting held between 24 September and 3 October 1910 in Milan, Italy. On 3 October René Thomas of France in an Antoinette monoplane collided with Captain Bertram Dickson of the British army in a Farman biplane by ramming him in the rear. Both pilots survived but Dickson was so badly injured he never flew again.
The first fatal collision occurred in Douai, France, on 19 June 1912. Captain Marcel Dubois and Lieutenant Albert Peignan of the French Army crashed into one another, killing both pilots.
Efforts to prevent military/civilian collisions in the United States
There are many types and causes of mid-air collisions. On some occasions, military aircraft conducting training flights inadvertently collide with civilian aircraft. Before 1958, civilian air traffic controllers guiding civilian flights and military controllers guiding military aircraft were both unaware of the other's aircraft.
The 1958 collision between United Airlines Flight 736 and a fighter jet, as well as another U.S. military/civilian crash one month later involving Capital Airlines Flight 300, hastened the signing of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 into law. The act created the Federal Aviation Agency (later renamed the Federal Aviation Administration), and provided unified control of airspace for both civil and military flights.
In 2005, as part of an effort to reduce such military/civilian mid-air collisions in U.S. airspace, the Air National Guard Flight Safety Division, led by Lt Col Edward Vaughan, used the Disruptive Solutions Process to create the See and Avoid web portal. In late 2006, the U.S. Defense Safety Oversight Council (DSOC) recognized and funded the site as its official civil/military midair collision prevention website, with participation by all the services.
List of notable civilian mid-air collisions
List of notable military mid-air collisions
- Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B)
- Disruptive Solutions Process
- Near miss (safety)
- Portable Collision Avoidance System (PCAS)
- Traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS)
- List of mid-air collisions and incidents in the United Kingdom
- All deaths directly attributable to the collision are counted as fatalities.
- In general, only occupants of an aircraft directly involved in the mid-air collision are counted as survivors. Bystanders who received nonfatal or no injuries, such as airshow spectators, participants in a military exercise, occupants of nearby non-involved aircraft, and/or airport ground crew, are not included unless their involvement in the incident is particularly notable.
- Includes 20 ground fatalities caused by detonation of bomb that fell from one aircraft as result of collision.
- Fatalities include 3 pilots participating in airshow and 67 bystanders hit by debris, the latter including a pilot in a parked helicopter. Refer to main article.
- All aircrew involved in initial collision survived; all fatalities occurred on the ground as result of debris and burning fuel. Refer to main article.
- Villard, Henry Serrano (1 January 1968). CONTACT! The Story of the Early Birds Man's first decade of flight from Kitty Hawk to World War I. Thomas Y. Crowell Co.
- "Aeroplanes in Collision". Popular Mechanics: page 91. January 1911.
- "The Milan Aviation Meeting, Italy, 1910.". Science Museum Pictorial. Science and Society Picture Library. 1910. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
- "Continental Flight Meetings". Flight: page 828–829. 8 October 1910. "...the Antoinette monoplane crashed on to the biplane, both machines falling to earth a mass of broken planes and tangled wires."
- "1973: Mid-air collision kills 68". BBC. 5 March 1973. Retrieved 2011-07-02.
- Gero 2010, pp. 26-27.
- Gero 2010, p. 78.
- Gero, David B. "Military Aviation Disasters: Significant Losses Since 1908". Sparkford, Yoevil, Somerset, UK: Haynes Publishing, 2010, ISBN 978-1-84425-645-7
- Analysis of Mid-Air Collisions, One of the most hazardous consequences of a loss of separation between aircraft, including as a result of a level bust, is a mid-air collision SKYbrary
- Indepth Backgrounder: Mid-air collision, CBC
- SeeAndAvoid, DoD Civil-Military Midair Collision Prevention Portal
- Interactive Web Site Helps Pilots ‘See and Avoid’ Midair Collisions, DefenseLink Press Release
- Low Altitude Military Aircraft Deconfliction Webtool