NTSB: Pilots failed to keep proper spacing to prevent crash
GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) — The pilots in a fatal 2019 midair collision near a Florida airpark failed to keep adequate space between the planes while they were doing maneuvers near each other, a federal investigation has found.
The National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday in a final report on the crash that pilots need to methodically scan the sky for other aircraft, and they must minimize distractions in the cockpit to prevent similar crashes.
One pilot was killed in the May 29, 2019, crash over Green Cove Springs, Florida, and the other landed safely but was seriously injured.
The pilots took off from Haller Airpark about 10:30 a.m. so one could check the accuracy of his airspeed indicator. Both were flying Vans RV4 amateur-built airplanes, and they flew alongside each other, the report said. After finishing the check, they began chasing each other heading south.
One pilot called off the “tail chase,” and made a gradual left turn, some banked turns to the northeast and then gradually descended heading east. The surviving pilot told investigators he suddenly saw the other plane in front of him, nose-to-nose, and the airplanes collided.
“He said that before either pilot could react, the airplanes collided, with the red airplane slightly lower than his airplane,” the report said.
One plane landed in a pasture, while the other split into two pieces and crashed, the report said.
Toxicology tests on the pilot who died found some cough and cold medications, but the NTSB could not determine if the pilot was impaired by them. The surviving pilot was not tested, the report said.
An examination of the flight controls and engines of both airplanes did not find any anomalies that would have prevented normal flight, the NTSB reported.