The Air Force's Air Combat Command has released its report on the November 16 midair collision between an F-16 and a Cessna 172 near Sarasota, Florida. (See " ASF cautions pilots about military training routes.") Air Force investigators said the causes of the accident were the failure of the pilots of both aircraft to "see and avoid" each other, and that Tampa air traffic controllers failed to transmit a safety alert to the Cessna when their radar system generated a "conflict alert" warning. The Cessna pilot was communicating with air traffic control; the pair of F-16s was not.
The Air Force report said the lead F-16 pilot "lost situational awareness" and descended his flight into Tampa Class B airspace at high airspeed without clearance from Tampa Approach. The lead aircraft "developed a position error in its navigation system that the pilot failed to recognize," and that led to the flight penetrating the Sarasota Class C airspace without the required communications with air traffic control.
The F-16s were maneuvering to enter a high-speed, low-level military training route. The Cessna had departed Sarasota-Bradenton airport VFR en route to Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg, Florida, and was receiving traffic advisories. The second F-16 of the flight struck the Cessna, killing 57-year-old Jacque Olivier, a flight instructor, charter pilot, and AOPA member. The F-16 pilot ejected safely.