# KWVI Watsonville MId Air, Multiple Fatalities

How would a pilot on base know whether he had the right-of way or not?

Or if the guy on a five mile final calls it a three mile final to have the ROW ...

Or if the guy on a five mile final calls it a three mile final to have the ROW ...
That would only work if the proposed rule made right-of-way dependent on radio transmissions. (The current rules do not.)

What if the regs were rewritten so that length of final was associated with speed of aircraft? Like Cat 1 aircraft with speeds less that 120kt get 3 mi finals, twins get 5 mi finals and larger aircraft get 7 mi finals? Just a thought so don't skewer me.
Well, the critical parameter is "time to convergence", i.e. the time when two aircraft would occupy the same space on final approach as one enters from a base leg, which means you can't really use the GPS center point of the airport and GPS calculations to determine that. So if you used speed and position, and could measure those accurately, you could build a software solution to resolve collision risk by assigning ROW and defining actions based on that, but frankly that option is way off in the future, when everyone has to have ads-b out and gps, both certified to strict standards. And as long as NORDO operations are permitted (and I hope that doesn't go away) a software method can't be employed.

I do think that "x minutes to touchdown" would be a useful metric if accurately reported, and even now you do hear something to that effect used on some approaches.

Well, the critical parameter is "time to convergence", i.e. the time when two aircraft would occupy the same space on final approach as one enters from a base leg, which means you can't really use the GPS center point of the airport and GPS calculations to determine that. So if you used speed and position, and could measure those accurately, you could build a software solution to resolve collision risk by assigning ROW and defining actions based on that, but frankly that option is way off in the future, when everyone has to have ads-b out and gps, both certified to strict standards. And as long as NORDO operations are permitted (and I hope that doesn't go away) a software method can't be employed.

I do think that "x minutes to touchdown" would be a useful metric if accurately reported, and even now you do hear something to that effect used on some approaches.
I'm not fond of that because then people with no patience are incentivized to go faster closer to the runway.

I'm not fond of that because then people with no patience are incentivized to go faster closer to the runway.
You mean like the guy at Watsonville?

The "software solution" I suggested above would give the ROW to the C152, and there would be no advantage for the "people with no patience" to go any faster just because they're closer to the runway. In a sense it's a software automated "cleared to land" instruction similar to what you currently get at a towered field. But don't worry. It's a fantasy model that would never be implemented in our lifetimes.

That would only work if the proposed rule made right-of-way dependent on radio transmissions. (The current rules do not.)

True. I don't need the ROW enough to ever want to challenge another plane for it. Like when I'm on the motorcycle ... everyone else has the ROW!

True. I don't need the ROW enough to ever want to challenge another plane for it. Like when I'm on the motorcycle ... everyone else has the ROW!
Me, too.

But imagine if a motorcycle rider thought he had the ROW by virtue of something equivalent to "lower altitude", or "already in the pattern", or "closest to the airport", or "the other guy doesn't really have the ROW", or "the other guy is going too fast", or "the other guy is being a jerk", or anything similar. If you go back over 900 posts in this thread you'll hear perspectives similar in nature to that. They're all the opposite of your wise tactic on a motorcycle to recognize a hazard and avoid it.

I maintain that all pilots should assume that an aircraft on final HAS the ROW without question, and if you can't land in front of him and get off the runway before he lands, do something else to stay out of his way. And if you are the guy with the ROW on final, it's equally important to recognize that someone already in the pattern may have other ideas. In the peaceful operation of aircraft there is no place for gladiators.

What if the regs were rewritten so that length of final was associated with speed of aircraft? Like Cat 1 aircraft with speeds less that 120kt get 3 mi finals, twins get 5 mi finals and larger aircraft get 7 mi finals? Just a thought so don't skewer me.
How about simply, "All aircraft must give way to the other one. In the event of a collision or near collision, both pilots are at fault."

How about being a stop sign and seeing a pair of headlights a quarter mile away heading in the direction you want to go? You know the speed limit is 45 on this road. The car you saw, unbeknownst to you, is travelling in excess of 65. You pull out and get rear-ended. Were you at fault for pulling out? Or is it the guy that was travelling way too fast without enough SA to slow down or avoid you?

How about simply, "All aircraft must give way to the other one. In the event of a collision or near collision, both pilots are at fault."
Yeah, I agree. And it's important enough that in the regulation (91.113) that statement precedes any specific statements about converging or landing aircraft.

When weather conditions permit, regardless of whether an operation is conducted under instrument flight rules or visual flight rules, vigilance shall be maintained by each person operating an aircraft so as to see and avoid other aircraft.

But what follows that is the ROW rules for guidance on exactly how to do that.

How would a pilot on base know whether he had the right-of way or not?

Based on discussions here, it seems that part of the confusion is what is considered a "straight to final"approach. There's a lot of grey area in the regs. I think by standardizing this it would help. Of course nothing would have helped in this particular instance since the twin pilot had very little regard to the regulations as well as his fellow pilots.
A person in the pattern could be waiting for a c152 on a 5 mi final or a twin on a 3 mi final.

How about being a stop sign and seeing a pair of headlights a quarter mile away heading in the direction you want to go? You know the speed limit is 45 on this road. The car you saw, unbeknownst to you, is travelling in excess of 65. You pull out and get rear-ended. Were you at fault for pulling out? Or is it the guy that was travelling way too fast without enough SA to slow down or avoid you?
I believe the speed limit where the twin was operating is 250 knots.

Based on discussions here, it seems that part of the confusion is what is considered a "straight to final"approach. There's a lot of grey area in the regs. I think by standardizing this it would help. Of course nothing would have helped in this particular instance since the twin pilot had very little regard to the regulations as well as his fellow pilots.
A person in the pattern could be waiting for a c152 on a 5 mi final or a twin on a 3 mi final.
What regulation did he have "very little regard for"? (I could see 91.13, but that one's kind of subjective.)

I believe the speed limit where the twin was operating is 250 knots.

What regulation did he have "very little regard for"? (I could see 91.13, but that one's kind of subjective.)
In the end no rules will prevent a reckless pilot from “rear ending” someone. The guy rushing in super fast on long final was clearly reckless. Period end of discussion. Same as on a road trying to merge at high speed or passing someone cause you are better and faster and more experienced driver…. Until youre not.

August 18th was the 1 year anniversary. All of us on the field are still waiting for the NTSB final report. Sad, the parents of the 152 pilot came to the airport and still suffering from the senseless loss. The victims deserve faster answers than the present FAA & NTSB timelines provide. Both planes has ADS-B, the 340 had a modern panel with flight data, and there is even a picture of the collision. What are they waiting for?

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August 18th was the 1 year anniversary. All of us on the field are still waiting for the NTSB final report. Sad, the parents of the 152 pilot came to the airport and still suffering from the senseless loss. The victims deserve faster answers than the present FAA & NTSB timelines provide. Both planes has ADS-B, the 340 had a modern panel with flight data, and there is even a picture of the collision. What are they waiting for?

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August 18th was the 1 year anniversary. All of us on the field are still waiting for the NTSB final report. Sad, the parents of the 152 pilot came to the airport and still suffering from the senseless loss. The victims deserve faster answers than the present FAA & NTSB timelines provide. Both planes has ADS-B, the 340 had a modern panel with flight data, and there is even a picture of the collision. What are they waiting for?

The problem is that accident investigations do not happen in a vacuum. That is, there are other investigations going on at the same time, all of which take resources, all of which take time. Yes, if you had the whole weight of the NTSB solely dedicated to this one investigation, it could have been wrapped up in less than a week, probably. But there are a lot of investigations going on and I'd be surprised if the NTSB was that rare unicorn that was fully staffed and had reasonable workloads for the employees.

I hate it for you guys and the family. It has to suck. Hopefully it will be resolved soon.

The problem is that accident investigations do not happen in a vacuum. That is, there are other investigations going on at the same time, all of which take resources, all of which take time. Yes, if you had the whole weight of the NTSB solely dedicated to this one investigation, it could have been wrapped up in less than a week, probably. But there are a lot of investigations going on and I'd be surprised if the NTSB was that rare unicorn that was fully staffed and had reasonable workloads for the employees.

I hate it for you guys and the family. It has to suck. Hopefully it will be resolved soon.
True. In the end it is always congress’s fault for not allocating the needed resources.

In the end no rules will prevent a reckless pilot from “rear ending” someone. The guy rushing in super fast on long final was clearly reckless. Period end of discussion. Same as on a road trying to merge at high speed or passing someone cause you are better and faster and more experienced driver…. Until youre not.
Agreed. Also, keep in mind that "an aircraft in distress" has ROW over all others.

I don't care whether the guy was or wasn't on the radio, was or wasn't squawking ADS-B, or anything else. If the guy in front of you had been on fire, and his electrics out, it's your JOB to see and avoid the aircraft in distress. If the guy was squawking, on ADS-B, and talking in the pattern, that just makes it worse.

IMO, if you hit a slower aircraft from behind or a blind rear quarter, you are automatically "at fault."

Came along late in this one, but it’s a good discussion.

1. No such thing as partial blame. Doesn’t make sense at all. The person at fault is who had “last clear chance”, the twin. Period.

2. Now that’s cleared up, let’s go safety. Who was causal? EVERYONE. It isn’t always, but in this case it was. 3 main factors become evident to me:
A. Radio calls. Not required, not relevant. EXCEPT apparent trust in them. Hold that thought…
B. Manner in which operated. Nothing illegal here, not relevant. EXCEPT the “careless manner” clause. Hold that thought.
C. VISUAL SCAN. This is primary and trumps EVERYTHING else. Focus here is most relevant to preventing future similar occurrences.

To wit:

Reliance on radio calls being prioritized over establishing VISUAL CONTACT. I’m an electrician. Code say green wires aren’t hot. I DONT GRAB THEM WITHOUT CHECKING!!

Was the twin operating carelessly? Ya. But not illegally. Everyone has different definitions of straight in, reasonable approach speed, EVERYTHING. That’s why it’s important TO SEE THEM. Trust them, fine, BUT VERIFY!! Do you REALLY want EVERYTHING standardized? That’s called IFR….

Going forward. Don’t muddy this up with distractors. The twin failed to maneuver to avoid the collision.

Other causal factors worth discussion, but THAT was the final chance to avoid the mishap. And it fits. I know of other mishaps where it was the lead aircraft’s fault, not this one.

Came along late in this one, but it’s a good discussion.

1. No such thing as partial blame. Doesn’t make sense at all. The person at fault is who had “last clear chance”, the twin. Period.

2. Now that’s cleared up, let’s go safety. Who was causal? EVERYONE. It isn’t always, but in this case it was. 3 main factors become evident to me:
A. Radio calls. Not required, not relevant. EXCEPT apparent trust in them. Hold that thought…
B. Manner in which operated. Nothing illegal here, not relevant. EXCEPT the “careless manner” clause. Hold that thought.
C. VISUAL SCAN. This is primary and trumps EVERYTHING else. Focus here is most relevant to preventing future similar occurrences.

To wit:

Reliance on radio calls being prioritized over establishing VISUAL CONTACT. I’m an electrician. Code say green wires aren’t hot. I DONT GRAB THEM WITHOUT CHECKING!!

Was the twin operating carelessly? Ya. But not illegally. Everyone has different definitions of straight in, reasonable approach speed, EVERYTHING. That’s why it’s important TO SEE THEM. Trust them, fine, BUT VERIFY!! Do you REALLY want EVERYTHING standardized? That’s called IFR….

Going forward. Don’t muddy this up with distractors. The twin failed to maneuver to avoid the collision.

Other causal factors worth discussion, but THAT was the final chance to avoid the mishap. And it fits. I know of other mishaps where it was the lead aircraft’s fault, not this one.
The real issue is that "see and avoid" isn't very good, as it requires a human to see, and avoid, and fly an airplane whilst doing so. Ever have traffic called out by ATC, and you couldn't find it? I have, many times. Yeah, mostly I see it, but I was also told it was there.

The real issue is that "see and avoid" isn't very good, as it requires a human to see, and avoid, and fly an airplane whilst doing so. Ever have traffic called out by ATC, and you couldn't find it? I have, many times. Yeah, mostly I see it, but I was also told it was there.
You can say that until you’re blue in the face but at the end of the day with an aircraft in an emergency, or even some student who dialed in the wrong frequency your eyes are likely all you’re left with and the same for birds. There is a reason we take eye exams.

The real issue is that "see and avoid" isn't very good, as it requires a human to see, and avoid, and fly an airplane whilst doing so. Ever have traffic called out by ATC, and you couldn't find it? I have, many times. Yeah, mostly I see it, but I was also told it was there.
See and avoid actually works quite well, but like everything else, it takes training and practice. Very few pilots put in the effort.

Biggest question in my mind was the speed of the twin. Why would they have been going that fast? There’s no way they would have been able to land at that speed.

In this situation the 150 guy turned without seeing the twin, mistake. The twin continued the approach after hearing that the 150 turned in front of him, mistake. Two deadly mistakes, if only one of them had screwed up, this accident would not have happened. The twin created the unsafe condition, the 150 blindly flew into it.

August 18th was the 1 year anniversary. All of us on the field are still waiting for the NTSB final report. Sad, the parents of the 152 pilot came to the airport and still suffering from the senseless loss. The victims deserve faster answers than the present FAA & NTSB timelines provide. Both planes has ADS-B, the 340 had a modern panel with flight data, and there is even a picture of the collision. What are they waiting for?
The problem is, there were no survivors who could explain the reasons for the actions that led up to the accident. Without that, and without physical evidence, the investigators' jobs are far more challenging. At some point, they're going to have to declare...without knowing the entire situation...what the cause of this accident was. I can see there being a lot of back-and-forth within the NTSB as to how they're going to want to call this.

Ron Wanttaja

Biggest question in my mind was the speed of the twin. Why would they have been going that fast? There’s no way they would have been able to land at that speed.
The best conjecture I heard was that the twin was planning to do some kind of overhead break to get down on the ground quicker. That's why he was approaching at Mach Jesus, compared to the rest of the pattern.

The problem is, there were no survivors who could explain the reasons for the actions that led up to the accident. Without that, and without physical evidence, the investigators' jobs are far more challenging. At some point, they're going to have to declare...without knowing the entire situation...what the cause of this accident was. I can see there being a lot of back-and-forth within the NTSB as to how they're going to want to call this.

Ron Wanttaja
And I suspect the eventual determination won’t make the loss any less senseless.

The best conjecture I heard was that the twin was planning to do some kind of overhead break to get down on the ground quicker. That's why he was approaching at Mach Jesus, compared to the rest of the pattern.
Wow. Pattern was packed. Yeah, doing an overhead break sounds like a GREAT idea!

The problem is, there were no survivors who could explain the reasons for the actions that led up to the accident. Without that, and without physical evidence, the investigators' jobs are far more challenging. At some point, they're going to have to declare...without knowing the entire situation...what the cause of this accident was. I can see there being a lot of back-and-forth within the NTSB as to how they're going to want to call this.

Ron Wanttaja
It took 'em 18 months to decide they couldn't decide anything in my simple, no major injury case. It also seems that they bake in a "cooling off" period to see if more info comes in.

The best conjecture I heard was that the twin was planning to do some kind of overhead break to get down on the ground quicker. That's why he was approaching at Mach Jesus, compared to the rest of the pattern.
I’ve seen enough people fly approaches at 200+ knots with plans to land that I believe he just had no clue where he was in 4 dimensions.

In this situation the 150 guy turned without seeing the twin, mistake. The twin continued the approach after hearing that the 150 turned in front of him, mistake. Two deadly mistakes, if only one of them had screwed up, this accident would not have happened. The twin created the unsafe condition, the 150 blindly flew into it.
NO. The facts were well discussed earlier in the thread. The twin was flying 200mph through the pattern with flaps and gear up. If he was going to land, it wasn't at this airport. The 152 pilot would never suspect a knucklehead is 600' rocketing through a busy pattern.

The best conjecture I heard was that the twin was planning to do some kind of overhead break to get down on the ground quicker. That's why he was approaching at Mach Jesus, compared to the rest
I seriously doubt most people who do overhead breaks, are doing overhead breaks to land at 600 AGL.

I think some of this can be minimized in the future if pattern burner students are told to not turn base if there is a plane on final…unless they are passed that plane.
I had a situation that reminded me of this and because of it I was more aggressive in self preservation.

Tower cleared my PA32 for straight in final while telling a pattern burner to hold making Left base turn until they have visual on me(and can do so safely went unsaid).
I was listening and doing my 500agl GUMPS when all I heard from the student in response to tower “I am making base turn”. No aknowlegment of me or repeating he is number 2. I did mot have visual on him just knew he is coming towards me. Saw him on ADSB set to almost intercept me.
I said to tower I dont see him I am going missed and banked right away from him….at the same time tower hollered for me to do what I just did.

Moral of the story… this happens way too often in the pattern and students should be told of the danger of making a base turn into oncoming traffic if you have no clue where they are.
I spoke to him after and he acknowledged being busy flying the plane and not hearing anything other than turn base.
Save for tower handling flights and me flying slow LOL this was same thing…just ended properly.

Moral of the story… this happens way too often in the pattern and students should be told of the danger of making a base turn into oncoming traffic if you have no clue where they are.
I compare this whole thing to pulling out onto a major highway from a smaller intersecting road. The guy on the main highway has the right of way and it's your responsibility not to cut him off, just as it's your responsibility not to cut off an aircraft on final. To do that safely you either need to see that he's far enough away and be able to judge his speed - or be certain there isn't anyone there. That applies to a traffic lighted intersection as well. Just because your light is green doesn't mean that someone else isn't going to T bone you underneath it.

I was dumbfounded doing flight reviews to see how often the pilot would focus on his pattern, airspeed, and everything else but NEVER look to the final approach course for traffic with the ROW.
I said to tower I don't see him . . .

Which is exactly the problem. The guy on final is also busy with cockpit chores and often can't even see a plane cutting him off from the base leg even when he's looking for one.

NO. The facts were well discussed earlier in the thread. The twin was flying 200mph through the pattern with flaps and gear up. If he was going to land, it wasn't at this airport. The 152 pilot would never suspect a knucklehead is 600' rocketing through a busy pattern.
There's facts and then there's the interpretation of those facts. Yes the twin was going too fast for his aircraft, but he was making calls, he was close, he was on final and obviously the 152 guy didn't have him in sight. 30 seconds spent extending his final would have saved his life. But I don't think he realized the danger he put himself in by turning. That's an experience thing, and it should be a taught thing in training.

The incorrect thing done by BOTH planes WAS PREDICTABLE. And predictably not preventable by rules.

The ONLY defense is SEE AND AVOID. Period.

I lied… we could require ALL AIRPORTS AND PLANES to be CAT III. Problem solved?

I think some of this can be minimized in the future if pattern burner students are told to not turn base if there is a plane on final…unless they are passed that plane.
Define "final"? Quarter mile? Half mile? Ten miles? If someone calls in on a twenty-mile straight-in, does all other traffic yield to them?

14CFR 91.113 defines the right of way rules. Note that this was written before aircraft radios were common. On that basis, how is "final" defined? Quarter mile? Half mile? Twenty miles?

Ron Wanttaja

As I added before, doesn't at all absolve the twin pilot, who was the primary culprit in my eyes, but this was an imprudent game of chicken gone wrong, from where I read the transcript. Listen to the tape, the inflection of his voice for the last two transmissions is clear as day to me. He played chicken over being annoyed at having to "cede" to a guy who wasn't "behaving in a deserving manner".

Where he lost the gamble was in the corollary assumption the twin pilot would be able/expected/successful in see-and-avoid once he plopped his 60knot rear on final. Oops. Guess making points and being right is not everything in this life after all.

As I've told students before when it comes to negotiating pattern-offending participants and traffic conflicts (which is called Tuesday at my job, it's literally all we do in the pattern with 8-12 others at 180-300KCAS): You wanna be right or you wanna go home?

As I added before, doesn't at all absolve the twin pilot, who was the primary culprit in my eyes, but this was an imprudent game of chicken gone wrong, from where I read the transcript. Listen to the tape, the inflection of his voice for the last two transmissions is clear as day to me. He played chicken over being annoyed at having to "cede" to a guy who wasn't "behaving in a deserving manne
Where he lost the gamble was in the corollary assumption the twin pilot would be able/expected/successful in see-and-avoid once he plopped his 60knot rear on final. Oops. Guess making points and being right is not everything in this life after all.

As I've told students before when it comes to negotiating pattern-offending participants and traffic conflicts (which is called Tuesday at my job, it's literally all we do in the pattern with 8-12 others at 180-300KCAS): You wanna be right or you wanna go home?
I’d agree with this with a small adjustment. He lost the gamble that the twin was not lying and planning to do a low pass and that the twin would act rationally and slow down since he radioed that he was intending to land.

There is no rational expectation that a plane will be at 600 feet doing 180 knots with his gear and flaps up when they have made a call that they are landing.

There is no rational expectation that a plane will be at 600 feet doing 180 knots with his gear and flaps up when they have made a call that they are landing.
Almost makes me wonder if he was planning out of frustration to wake-thump the 152 with a low pass and then go-around.

A bit of a road rage demonstration for a perceived cutting in line.