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Clash over Los Angeles
DC-9 Aeromexico and private Piper Cherokee
International Airport in Los Angeles - It is one of the busiest airports in the world. Every year they are 40 million passengers. More 1500 planes take off and land there every day.
31 1986 year in August. On the day the air traffic regulated Walter White. He was the manager, who was not yet fully trained.
Manager: It was a difficult weekend and a beautiful day in Los Angeles. The sky was perfectly clear. Walter asked me to put his control. I allowed him. He wanted to work for the sake of training.
At that time, hundreds of miles from the United States, passengers sat on the board DC-9Which belonged to the company "Aeromexico". Someone was coming home from vacation, and someone was flying on business. To the east of Los Angeles, Cerritos town slowly waking up from a dream. Many people were at home and rested. After a few hours flight 498 was on approach to the airport. By coincidence, at the same time from a small airport in Torrance flew a private plane Piper Cherokee. In it the family of local engineer flew to rest.
The work of Walter White was to make sure that arriving planes are at a sufficient distance. In 11: 47 he received the first call from the flight 498. On the instructions of the controller aircraft began to descend to an altitude of 6000 meters. At that time, William Kramer Piper Cherokee continued to rise. Suddenly, Walter White has attracted the attention of a private plane that flew without permission in the area of supervisory control LAX. While the dispatcher sent him overboard 498 continued to approach.
Suddenly the plane DC-9 rocked by a strong impact. Airliner dramatically lowered the nose and went into a nosedive. Walter White tried to contact the crew, but he could not. Despite all the efforts of the pilots, a huge plane fell and crashed into a densely populated district of Cerritos.
Eyewitness: I saw a huge explosion. As if the earth bomb fell.
In the control room were all confused. They did not know what happened to the plane. To clarify the situation, the dispatcher contacted other airliner, which was flying in the area. Its pilots have confirmed the worst fears. They saw a smokescreen on the ground there, where he was to fly DC-9.
Meanwhile, in Cerritos raging fire. Fire was everywhere. Fire immediately moved to help. When firefighters arrived, they saw a terrible picture. Even many were shocked to see the rescuers.
Local resident: My house was completely in flames. I did not know where my family. I soon learned that only one survived my son.
16 houses were damaged. Many of them are completely burned. At the airport to meet could not wait for their relatives.
A relative of the dead: I went to the airport to meet her husband and sons. I waited a very long time. After that, all the greeters was taken to a separate room. They told us that the plane crashed and all died.
Cerritos emergency workers were shocked by yet another discovery. On the playground of the local school, they found the wreckage of the aircraft Piper Cherokee. If there is no visible damage, the roof of the cab has been cut off. His three passengers were found dead. In total, the disaster killed 82 person. What went wrong? Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSB) had to find out.
From the beginning, investigators have focused on the fact that on the ground there were two aircraft. This led to the idea of a collision in the air. The investigators examined the crash site thoroughly to determine how the aircraft moved to the fall, and the angle at which they might encounter. Soon they found the wreckage of DC-9 scratches and paint with a Piper Cherokee.
Investigator: It seems that the Piper Cherokee struck in the rear compartment of an aircraft. Because of this tailplane failed. When this happens, control the height of the flight is no longer possible.
Reducing DC-9 and gain altitude Piper Cherokee collided at an angle of 90 degree. Their overall speed was 450 km / h. Because of the impact broke the rear compartment of an aircraft. Investigators found out what had happened. But most of them worried about how this could happen. To gather together the circumstances of the tragedy, experts began to study the flight recorders DC-9. It is possible to determine the exact position and height of the aircraft at the time of the collision. DC-9 was in controlled airspace of the airport. But Piper Cherokee was there, too. Private jets should be given permission to enter the zone. Though private jet pilot who died was not a local, he knew about the limitations of the flight in the airport area. Also, scanning documents from the cab Piper Cherokee, the investigators found that the route they had to take away from the airport. Experts examined the medical records of the pilot Piper Cherokee. As it turned out, he suffered heart disease. Maybe he had a heart attack and, therefore, the plane lost control. Samples of heart tissue William Kramer sent for tests.
Regardless of being a pilot Piper Cherokee, the dispatcher had to see it on your radar screen. But the interrogation Walter White told investigators that Piper Cherokee did not show up on the radar.
Investigator: He was sure that there was not that plane. He could not see it.
Experts remain unmet Memories White. Meanwhile came the analysis of cardiac tissue pilot. They showed that although Kramer and suffered from progressive heart disease, he did not have a heart attack before the collision. After careful research, the experts seem to understand why the Piper Cherokee appeared near the airport.
Expert: Piper Cherokee pilot flew the plane with the help of landmarks. Perhaps he was trying to follow along the motorway. But he stumbled along a highway he had to fly.
Arriving in California and confused interlacing of high-speed highways, Kramer could fly into the airspace of the airport, not knowing about it. Some time later, investigators made another loud statement. Manager of Cramer could see the aircraft on its radar. Although the airport equipment was outdated, investigators had no reason to believe that it was defective. Due to the difficult terrain, some goals could disappear from the radar for a few seconds. However, this is only a temporary phenomenon, which took place very quickly. It was also suggested that the dispatcher could not help noticing the approaching Piper Cherokee because of another private jet, which also flew into the area of the airport without permission.
Investigator: Was the aircraft to the east of the airport. This was the so-called offender. At the critical moment when the two aircraft were flying towards each other, the controller for too long talking to the intruder.
Another challenge for the manager was that he did not have all the information about Piper Cherokee. Radar at the airport showing a position and direction of flight of the aircraft. In turn, the aircraft transponders indicated dispatcher speed and altitude. Technical Study Piper Cherokee revealed that on board was installed base relay. He was not handed over to the control tower data on speed and altitude of the aircraft.
Investigator: Controllers are used to seeing a lot of small triangles on the screen that indicate the Air Force planes. When they do not get the data from the pilot, it is assumed that the plane did not invade its airspace, as military pilots know the rules of the air near the airport.
Investigators believed that Walter White dispersed their their attention and failed to warn DC-9 on a private plane. Soon another discovery stunned investigators. The data show that no airliner pilots nor Kramer took no action to avoid a collision. It looks like they did not know about each other. To get a better idea of what is happening on board the flight 498, investigators listened to the recording of voice recorders. Unfortunately, the recording was very poor quality, something to tell. A picture from the radar just baffled. According to him Piper Cherokee was in sight pilots DC-9 longer than a minute! And if Kramer looked out the side window, they too would see a huge airliner. But none of the aircraft has not changed its course. None of the aircraft has not taken any action.
Expert: Pilots DC-9 You might not notice a small plane Cramer. In some cases, planes converge too quickly. When a ship becomes visible it is already too late to do something.
Also, construction glazing DC-9 could prevent pilots to see an approaching aircraft. A small Piper Cherokee could be hidden behind a vertical stand. It simply could not be seen.
The catastrophe of Cerritos identified several unfortunate weaknesses in the management of air traffic. One of them is the most obvious: it was impossible to rely on the pilots. They did not see each other, as is often the case. The Federal Aviation Administration reacted very quickly to increase safety. Smaller aircraft required a new type of transponder with which managers could find that a private plane is dangerous.
Investigator: If the plane flies through the airspace of dispatching service and transmits data about yourself, the probability of error is eliminated. It does not matter whether there is an intruder or not.
Also, the new system has been designed to alert controllers on violators. Thus, the ground staff the opportunity to warn the pilots before the onset of an emergency. The most important innovation was the introduction of warning about the threat of a collision. This system continuously monitors the traffic situation and informs the pilot about the dangers of 45 seconds before a possible collision. Today, all commercial airlines use this system to improve the safety of passenger transport. Manager Walter White was unable to recover from the resulting shock. A few months later he left the dispatch service and never sat at the radar screen. Within a year after the accident, the old radars at the airport in Los Angeles have been replaced.
Since in the United States there have been no collisions in the air. Today the only reminder of the catastrophe memorial to the victims of the tragedy, which is installed in Cerritos.
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