Video has emerged of the collision of a driverless Tesla that collided with the tail of Cirrus VisionJet at a small airport in Washington State. Initial reports via a Reddit video suggest the car was being operated on its “Summon” feature in which the operator calls the car on a cellphone to move it to a more convenient location. The operator had to be on hand when this happened because the function apparently only works within line of sight. In this case, the Tesla apparently decided the way to its master’s preferred location was through the Cirrus and that will no doubt be of interest to a variety of regulators.

The incident reportedly happened at Felts Field, near Spokane, at an event last week to celebrate the opening of a new hangar for Northwest Flight Service, the regional service and training center for Cirrus. Speculation on sites and forums that specialize in Tesla topics is that the sensors that normally keep Teslas from bumping into things don’t look up high enough to see the tail of an airplane four feet above the ground. The car’s windshield hit the tail and spun the plane about 90 degrees, but it’s not clear how much damage was done to the machines. 

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. The program did exactly as it was designed to function.
    So, who wants to ride in an autonomous eVTOL?

  2. I am obviously glad nobody was hurt, except for some insurance companies, but this story actually cracked me up. Some entitled jerk with the Tesla, took out another multi millionaires private jet. It really is a metaphor.

  3. For those interested, a quick Internet search will turn up many episodes of Teslas on their so-called auto pilot driving into emergency vehicles, like police cars and ambulances. Obviously jets, and vehicles with bright flashing lights, are very difficult to see for cyborgs.

  4. And the guy, or, gal who own’s the Tesla is probably a pilot also. Think about that for a moment. Times up. Scary, huh…

    • Maybe a pilot now, but only until one of those safe and effective ePersonal eAeromotive eDevice doohickeys is in the garage/hangar.

  5. Hmm. Watching the video and understanding how the “summon me” function works, this seems like a stunt to get views. The owner must be within 20 ft and the car stops the second they release the button on their phone? I can’t imagine a scenario where the owner didn’t see this coming. Sounds like this is less about failed technology and more about attention grabbing…again.

  6. These robot cars are capable of all sorts of tricks. Sleep well while your battery powered car self-immolates in the garage while charging overnight.

  7. I spoke with a guy that witnessed the incident. He said that the car was summoned by a friend of the owner that had his phone. And to top that off he was inebriated. So this will be very interesting how the insurance and liability all pan out. Who is responsible? Was it technically a drunk driver? So many questions.

  8. I saw pictures of the aftermath. The ventral fin on the left side (which includes a movable yaw-damping surface) was crunched pretty badly. Not clear if other damage was done to the tailcone.

      • Ouch – sounds very expen$ive.

        It’s quite possible the repairs will greatly exceed the Tesla’s insurance coverage limit. Now the Cirrus Jet owner’s insurance will be on the hook for the rest. And in today’s ‘hard’ insurance market, they may well jack up that Cirrus jet’s rate because of the recent loss.

  9. Does the tesla or the owner file the NASA report for failing to contact “proper ground services” prior to entering airport movement areas ? Asking for a student friend …:)