This article is missing information about efforts to avoid civilian mid-air collisions (eg. TCAS) and the history of mid-air collisions. Please expand the article to include this information. Further details may exist on the talk page.(June 2014)
A mid-air collision is an aviation accident in which two or more aircraft come into unplanned contact during flight. Owing to the relatively high velocities involved and the likelihood of subsequent impact with 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 in general due to the vastness of open space available, collisions often happen near or at airports, where large volumes of aircraft are spaced more closely than in general flight.
Contemporary artist's impression of the first mid-air collision, 1910
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, Frenchman René Thomas, flying an Antoinette IV monoplane, collided with British Army Captain Bertram Dickson by ramming his Farman III biplane in the rear. Both pilots survived, but Dickson was so badly injured that he never flew again.
The first fatal collision occurred in Douai, France, on 19 June 1912. Captain Marcel Dubois and Lieutenant Albert Peignan, both 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.
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 mid-air collision prevention website, with participation by all the services.
List of notable civilian and military-civilian mid-air collisions
^ abAll deaths directly attributable to the collision are counted as fatalities.
^ abIn 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.