Mid-air collision

A mid-air collision is an aviation accident in which two or more aircraft come into unplanned contact during flight.[1] 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.

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, Frenchman René Thomas, flying the Antoinette IV monoplane, collided with British Army Captain Bertram Dickson by ramming his Farman III biplane in the rear.[2] Both pilots survived, but Dickson was so badly injured that he never flew again.[3][4][5]

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.[6]

Efforts to prevent collisions


Almost all modern aircraft are fitted with TCAS, which is designed to try to prevent mid-air collisions. The system, based on the signals from aircraft transponders, alerts pilots if a potential collision with another aircraft is imminent. Despite its limitations, it is believed to have greatly reduced the chance of a mid-air collision.[7]

Civillian/Military 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 mid-air collision prevention website, with participation by all the services.

List of notable civilian and military-civilian mid-air collisions

DateFatalities[N 1]Survivors[N 2] Flights involved Phase of flight Site
1922Apr 770 CGEA Farman F.60 / Daimler Hire Ltd. de Havilland DH.18A 492 ft. Picardy, France
1929Apr 2160 Maddux Airlines (Ford 5-AT-B Tri-Motor) / U.S.Army Air Force (B-PW-9D) 2,000 ft. San Diego California, U.S.
1935May 18450 Tupolev ANT-20 Maxim Gorky / VVS Polikarpov I-5 Cruise Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
1938Aug 2458 Japanese Flying School (Hanriot HD-1) and Japan Airlines Transportation (Fokker Super Universal) ? Ōmori, Tokyo, Japan
1942Oct 23122 American Airlines Flight 28 / US Army B-34 flight Ascent/descent (9000 ft.) Chino Canyon, California, U.S.
1945Jul 12320 Eastern Airlines Flight 45 / U.S. Army Air Force A-26 Invader Descent Florence, South Carolina, U.S.
1948April 5150 British European Airways Vickers VC.1 Viking / Soviet Air Force flight Approach RAF Gatow, Berlin, Germany.
1948Jul 4390 Scandinavian Airlines System DC-6 / RAF Avro York Descent Northwood, London, UK
1949Feb 19140 BEA Douglas Dakota / RAF Avro Anson Cruise Exhall, U.K.
1949Nov 1551 Eastern Air Lines 537 / Lockheed P-38 test flight Approach Washington, D.C., U.S.
1951Apr 25430 Cubana de Aviación 493 / US Navy flight Cruise/climb Key West, Florida, U.S.
1952Jun 28260 American Airlines Flight 910 / private Temco Swift Approach Dallas, Texas, U.S.
1954Apr 8370 Trans-Canada Airlines Flight 9 / RCAF Harvard ? Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan Canada
1955Jan 12150 TWA flight / Private flight Climb Boone County, Kentucky, U.S.
1956Jun 301280 UA Flight 718 / TWA Flight 2 Cruise Grand Canyon, Arizona, U.S.
1958Apr 21490 United Airlines Flight 736 / USAF F-100 Super Sabre Cruise Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
1958May 20131 Capital Airlines Flight 300 / Air National Guard flight Descent Brunswick, Maryland, U.S.
1958May 20311 British European Airways Flight 142 / Italian Air Force F-86 Sabre flight Descent Near Anzio, Italy
1960Feb 25613 Real Transportes Aéreos DC-3 / U.S. Navy R6D flight Descent Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1960Dec 161340 UA Flight 826 / TWA Flight 266 Descent New York City, New York, U.S.
1963Feb 11040 MEA Flight 265 / Turkish Air Force flight Descent Ankara, Turkey
1965Dec 44108 TWA Flight 42 / Eastern Airlines Flight 853 Descent Carmel, New York, U.S.
1967Mar 9260 TWA Flight 553 / Private flight Descent Urbana, Ohio, U.S.
1967Jul 19820 Piedmont Airlines Flight 22 / Lanseair Inc. flight Climb/descent Hendersonville, North Carolina, U.S.
1968Aug 4312 North Central Airlines Flight 261 / Private flight Descent/Cruise Wind Lake, Wisconsin, U.S.
1969Jun 231200 Aeroflot Flight 831/ Soviet Air Force flight Cruise Yukhnovsky District, Soviet Union
1969Sep 9820 Allegheny Airlines Flight 853 / Private flight Descent Fairland, Indiana, U.S.
1971Jun 6501 Hughes Airwest Flight 706 / US Marines flight Climb San Gabriel Mountains, California, U.S.
1971Jul 301621 ANA Flight 58 / JASDF flight Cruise near Shizukuishi, Japan
1972Jun 29130 North Central Airlines Flight 290 / Air Wisconsin Flight 671 Cruise Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin, U.S.
1973Mar 568108 Iberia Douglas DC-9  / Spantax Convair 990[8] Cruise near Nantes, France
1974Aug 930 RAF Phantom FGR2 / Piper Pawnee crop duster Low level Fordham Fen, Norfolk, England, UK
1974Nov 1380 1974 Surgut mid-air collision / Mil Mi-8 Approach Near Surgut, Soviet Union
1975Jan 9140 Golden West Airlines Flight 261 / Private flight Climb near Whittier, California, U.S.
1976Sep 9640 Aeroflot Flight 31 / Aeroflot Flight 7957 Cruise near Anapa, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
1976Sep 101760 BA Flight 476 / Inex-Adria Flight 550 Cruise near Zagreb, SR Croatia, Yugoslavia
1978Sep 251440 PSA Flight 182 / Private flight Descent San Diego, California, U.S.
1979Aug 111780 Aeroflot 65816 / Aeroflot 65735 Cruise Dniprodzerzhynsk, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
1981Aug 24371 Aeroflot Flight 811 / Soviet Air Force Tupolev Tu-16K Cruise Zavitinsk, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
1985May 3940 Aeroflot Flight SSSR-65856  / Soviet Air Force Antonov An-26 Descent Zolochev, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
1985Dec 2822 Cessna 172B / Pitts S-2B Low level Caddo Mills, Texas, U.S.
1986Jun 18250 Grand Canyon Airlines Flight 6  / Private helicopter flight Low level Grand Canyon, U.S
1986Aug 31820 Aeroméxico Flight 498 / Private flight Descent/climb Cerritos, California, U.S.
1987Jan 15100 SkyWest Airlines Flight 1834 / Private flight Approach Kearns, Utah, U.S.
1990Apr 927 ASA Flight 2254 / Private flight Climb/descent Gadsden, Alabama, U.S.
1991Apr 450 Lycoming Air Piper Aerostar / Sun Oil Company Bell 412 Low level Merion, Pennsylvania
1992Dec 221572 Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 1103 / Libyan Air Force MiG-23 Flight Approach Tripoli, Libya
1993Feb 81330 Iran Air Tours Tupolev Tu-154M / Iranian Air Force Sukhoi Su-24 Climb/approach Tehran, Iran
1993Nov 2640 NZ Police Eagle / NZ Police traffic patrol Low level Auckland, New Zealand
1996Nov 123490 Saudia Flight 763 / Kazakhstan Airlines Flight 1907 Climb/descent Charkhi Dadri, India
1997Jun 2503 Mir  / Progress M-34 Orbit Outer space
1998Jul 30150 Proteus Airlines Flight 706 / Private flight Low level Quiberon Bay, France
2000Feb 830 Zlin 242L / Cessna 172 Descent Zion, Illinois, U.S.
2002Jul 1710 Bashkirian Airlines Flight 2937 / DHL Flight 611 Cruise Überlingen, Germany
2005Jan 1812 Air Tractor AT-502B  / US Air Force Cessna T-37B Cruise Hollister, Oklahoma, United States
2006Sep 291547[9] Gol Transportes Aéreos Flight 1907 / ExcelAire flight Cruise Amazon rainforest, Brazil
2007Mar 580 Aérospatiale SA 332 Super Puma / private Diamond DV20 Katana Low level Zell am See Airport, Austria
2007Jul 2740 KNXV-TV news helicopter / KTVK news helicopter Low level Phoenix, Arizona
2007Sep 120 Two Zlin Z-526Fs of the AZL Żelazny Aerobatic display Near Radom, Poland
2009Feb 1000 Kosmos-2251 / Iridium 33 Orbit Outer space
2009Aug 890 Piper PA-32 / Eurocopter AS350 tour helicopter Low level Hudson River, New York, U.S.
2012Sep 203200 Syrian Arab Airlines Flight RB-501 / Syrian Air Force Mil Mi-8 helicopter Climb Damascus, Syria
2013Nov 2011 Cessna 182L / Cessna 185F Cruise Superior, Wisconsin, U.S.[10] [11]
2015Mar 9100 Two Eurocopter AS350 helicopters Climb La Rioja Province, Argentina
2015Sep 57112 Ceiba Intercontinental Airlines Flight 71 / Senegalair plane Cruise Eastern Senegal
2015Mar 9100 Two Eurocopter AS350 helicopters Climb La Rioja Province, Argentina
2016Dec 3130 Luscombe 8A / Piper PA-28R-200 Arrow Low level McKinney, Texas, U.S.

List of notable military mid-air collisions

DateFatalities[N 1]Survivors[N 2] Aircraft involved Site
1940Sep 2904 Two Avro Ansons of the RAAF Brocklesby, New South Wales, Australia
1943April 1480 Two Bristol Beauforts of the RAAF Australia
1943Dec 722[N 3]2 Two U.S. Navy Douglas SBD Dauntlesses[12] near Pauwela, Maui, Hawaii, U.S.
1952Apr 4150 USAF C-47 Skytrain / USAF C-124 Globemaster II Mobile, Alabama, U.S.
1953May 1534 Two USAF C-119 Flying Boxcars / USAF F-84 Thunderjet near Weinheim, Germany
1953Jan 15260 RAF Vickers Valetta / RAF Avro Lancaster Mediterranean Sea near Sicily
1955Aug 11660 Two USAF C-119 Flying Boxcars near Stuttgart, Germany
1958Feb 1482 Lockheed P2V-5F Neptune  / Douglas C-118A Liftmaster Norwalk, California, U.S.
1958Feb 504 USAF B-47 Stratojet / USAF F-86 Sabre Tybee Island, Georgia, U.S.
1958Mar 27180 USAF C-119 Flying Boxcar / USAF C-124 Globemaster II[13] Bridgeport, Texas, U.S.
1965Jun 15180 Two U.S. Army UH-1D Iroquoises Fort Benning, Georgia, U.S.
1966Jan 1774 USAF B-52G Stratofortress / USAF KC-135 Stratotanker Mediterranean Sea near Palomares, Almería, Spain
1966Jun 821 XB-70 Valkyrie prototype / F-104 Starfighter near Barstow, California, U.S.
1983May 103 Israeli Air Force F-15 Eagle / A-4 Skyhawk Negev, Israel
1985Jul 511 Two A-4F Skyhawk aircraft of the Blue Angels Niagara Falls, U.S.
1988Mar 8170 Two U.S. Army UH-60A Blackhawks[14] Fort Campbell, Kentucky, U.S.
1988Aug 2870[N 4]0 Three Aermacchi MB-339PAN aircraft of the Frecce Tricolori Ramstein Air Base, Germany
1989Sep 311 Two Canadair CT-114 Tutor Snowbirds during the Canadian International Air Show Toronto, Ontario, Canada
1994Mar 2324[N 5]7 F-16 Fighting Falcon / C-130 Hercules Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, U.S.
1996June 121810 Two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters of the Australian SAS Townsville, Australia
1996June 1968 Two U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters Fort Campbell, Kentucky, U.S.
1997Feb 4730 Two IAF Sikorsky CH-53 helicopters She'ar Yashuv, Israel
1997Sep 13330 USAF C-141B Starlifter / German Air Force Tupolev Tu-154M Off the coast of Namibia
2001Apr 1124 USN Lockheed EP-3E / PLAN Shenyang J-8II South China Sea near Hainan Island, PRC
2002Nov 611 Two MiG-29s of the Slovak Air Force near Spišská Nová Ves, Slovakia
2009Feb 1140 Two Grob Tutors of the RAF Porthcawl, Wales, UK
2009Aug 1611 Two Sukhoi Su-27s of the Russian Knights Moscow, Russia
2009Oct 3090 USCG C-130 / USMC Cobra Helicopter Off the coast of California, U.S.
2014June 2321 Learjet 35A / Eurofighter Typhoon Olsberg, Germany
2014August 1940 Two Tornado fighters Ascoli Piceno, Italy

See also


  1. 1 2 All deaths directly attributable to the collision are counted as fatalities.
  2. 1 2 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.
  3. Includes 20 ground fatalities caused by detonation of bomb that fell from one aircraft.
  4. Includes 3 aircrew and 67 ground fatalities. Refer to main article.
  5. All ground fatalities. Refer to main article.


  1. 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.
  2. "Aeroplanes in Collision". Popular Mechanics. January 1911. p. 91.
  3. "The Milan Aviation Meeting, Italy, 1910". Science Museum Pictorial. Science and Society Picture Library. 1910. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  4. "Continental Flight Meetings". Flight. 8 October 1910. pp. 828–829. ...the Antoinette monoplane crashed on to the biplane, both machines falling to earth a mass of broken planes and tangled wires.
  5. Dr. Andrew Cook (2007). European Air Traffic Management: Principles, Practice, and Research. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7546-7295-1.
  6. "Federal Aviation Administration - Home Page – TCAS". 2011-07-21. Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  7. "1973: Mid-air collision kills 68". BBC. 5 March 1973. Retrieved 2011-07-02.
  8. Guilherme Poggio. "Sobrevivente do acidente com o voo 1907 da GOL rompe silêncio | Poder Aéreo - Forças Aéreas e Indústria Aeronáutica". Aereo.jor.br. Retrieved 2016-09-27.
  9. "NTSB Identification: CEN14LA036A". 23 July 2015. Retrieved 2018-08-25.
  10. Jeff Wise (6 Nov 2013). "What Went Wrong in the Skydiving Planes Collision?". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 2018-08-26.
  11. Gero 2010, pp. 26–27.
  12. Gero 2010, p. 78.
  13. AP (1988-03-10). "17 DIE IN COLLISION OF ARMY COPTERS". Fort Campbell (Ky): NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2016-09-27.
  • Gero, David B. "Military Aviation Disasters: Significant Losses Since 1908". Sparkford, Yoevil, Somerset, UK: Haynes Publishing, 2010, ISBN 978-1-84425-645-7
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