Four Dead In Nevada Midair

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Four people were killed in a midair collision involving a Piper PA-46 Malibu Mirage and a Cessna 172N Skyhawk at Nevada’s North Las Vegas airport (VGT) on Sunday. Authorities reported that each aircraft had two people onboard. The names of the individuals killed in the crash have not yet been released.

“Preliminary information indicates that the Piper PA-46 was preparing to land when it collided with the Cessna 172,” the FAA said in a statement. “The Piper crashed into in a field east of Runway 30-Right and the Cessna fell into a water retention pond.”

The accident occurred at around 12 p.m. local time and a post-crash fire was reported. According to tower audio recorded by LiveATC.net, the 172, N160RA, was cleared for the option on Runway 30R while the PA-46, N97CX, was cleared to land on Runway 30L. ADS-B tracking data appears to show the PA-46 overshooting the final approach course for 30L. The NTSB is investigating the accident.  

Audio: Jul-17-2022-1900Z – KVGT Tower – LiveATC.net

The crash at VGT is one of eleven fatal general aviation accidents reported in the FAA’s Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) system between Thursday, July 14, and Sunday, July 18.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. While it’s always a tragedy when lives are lost, I can’t help but wonder if this is a classic example of low wing versus a high wing incident. And I am also wondering if either of the airplanes involved had ADSB with the OUT option…..

  2. Tragic indeed.

    How did the Piper come to rest with most of its major pieces disconnected but present, with an intact looking fuselage? I’d have guess that the Piper would have been survivable.

    • Looking at the creases in the fuselage there were pretty hefty g-forces on impact. A long time ago drop-tests were done with Navaho’s whereby slo-mo footage revealed how fuselages crumpled and then returned to near original shape.
      Plus, I don’t think current 3-point belts in GA are sufficient for most high-G impacts that involve any above average sideloads.

    • That airplane was perfectly respectable by the standards of its day, but we now can do much better. One reason we don’t do better is that new planes have to compete with newly built planes that shouldn’t pass modern standards while new designs built to modern standards cost millions to get certified and are much more costly to insure until its proven they are safer. Most fail because they are not a “Cessna”. Also, building a new plane with a new engine is double the risk and trouble so new engines cannot succeed unless they can GREATLY outperform the known engines that the planes were designed for.

      And, why is this the case? Well, it’s unfair, but the FAA gets most all the responsibility even though the lawyers really should share it along with the pilot community.

  3. and………look at the speed of the Mirage. Twice that of the 172 and at least 25% faster than necessary. and……from downwind until the final it appears to be one constant turn. Does not appear to have leveled out on base to look for the traffic. Sum-ting-wong Maverick.

    ac-ci-dent 1. an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury 2. an event that happens by chance or that is without apparent or deliberate cause.

    From the little we know about this tragedy it doesn’t appear to pass the “accident definition”. I am just saying that if this were a car “accident” it might be investigated from a different perspective.

    So sad and so preventable.

    God bless.

  4. Indeed. Unless the Mirage had an emergency like a fire, this kind of aggressive flying is dangerous and unnecessary. He crossed mid field high and fast. The sweeping turn ended turning final on 30R very short, 200’ AGL at 126kts. This is unacceptable flying.

  5. AS has been said by others here already- the radar plot indicated the Piper PA-46 lined up with RWY 30R instead of using it’s approved and acknowledged clearance to RWY 30L.
    It appears the Piper PA-46 Malibu Mirage overtook the C-172 from above and to the 172’s rear and impacted into the C-172 from the rear.

  6. Piper in Field? Looks like asphalt to me. Cessna in retention pond….(Google Earth) shows no retention pond in the area. Maybe they mean the shallow drainage swell parallel to RWY 30R. Does look like a yeahwho mirage pilot overtook the 172 and blasted them both out of the sky. Sad.

  7. This accident is similar to the one at Centennial where a Cirrus overshot 17R and collided with a Metroliner approaching 17L. In each case the airplane that overshot was a high performance model where there’s always the possibility of a pilot who is not too experienced yet with the much higher ground speeds and space needed for maneuvering that aircraft. Also in each case the runways were very close together, yet ATC procedures are depending on separation to be maintained by the pilot in a fast airplane in a descending turn. Bottom line, maybe it would be advisable to change those procedures.

  8. This is the Centennial accident all over again. Consider the similarities:
    1. The runways are only about 600 to 620 ft apart.
    2. The runway the “overshooting” airplane was supposed to land on does not have an instrument approach (or any other form of final approach guidance).
    3. Because of another nearly perpendicular runway, the airport reference point (you know… the point you can OBS around?) was a substantial distance away from the overshooting aircraft’s runway. (Indeed, in both cases the overshooting aircrafts ground track is consistent with an attempt to line up on the OBS).
    4. Both overshooting airplanes are high performance airplanes that are likely TAA, typically amateur flown and often flown by folks with more money than experience.

    The easy answer is to blame these on a “failure to look out the window”, and there may be some truth to that. But, when you consider that we’re asking amateur GA pilots to do something we won’t ask professional flight crews to do (ICAO calls for a ~690ft spacing when conducting parallel operations in VMC and 2500ft spacing when IMC). Procedurally, we need ATC to be sequencing the landings (i.e. you should never pass parallel traffic on final).