Get extra lift from AOPA. Start your free membership trial today! Click here

Conflict in the Cockpit

Accident Case Study

It’s July 26, 2021, and the crew’s first time flying together on the Bombardier Challenger 605. The initial portion of the planned flight from Idaho’s Pappy Boyington Field in Coeur d’Alene to Truckee Tahoe Airport in California, is uneventful and does not allude to the troubling tension eventually building between the first officer and his younger captain.

Join the AOPA Air Safety Institute as we examine the circumstances that led to the tragic outcome just seconds before landing at Truckee Tahoe Airport. We look at crew dynamics during the flight and improper energy management during the circling approach to the airport.

Tablet: Compatible
Length: 16 mins
Topic: Advanced Training, Aeronautical Decision Making, Safety Culture
FAA WINGS: Not Eligible
Accident Forgiveness: Eligible

The Accident Case Study series uses FAA ATC radio communication transcripts, NTSB documentation, and video animation to recreate accidents and share critical lessons, so we can recognize and avoid similar mistakes.

Learn more:

An NTSB safety alert warns that circling-to-land approaches can be riskier than other approaches because they often require maneuvering at low altitude and low airspeed during the final segment of the approach, increasing the opportunity for loss of control or collisions with terrain.

This inherent risk is even more pronounced in larger, faster airplanes, when energy management is essential. The FAA’s Instrument Procedures Handbook urges caution when attempting a circle-to-land maneuver, especially for category C aircraft as the maneuvers are often conducted with precipitation affecting visibility, depth perception, and the ability to adequately assess the decent profile. It warns that circling approaches conducted at faster-than-normal, straight-in approach speeds require pilots to consider a larger circling approach area.

Interestingly, another example of the circling approach risk and the need for proper energy management is an accident that happened six months later involving a Learjet at San Diego’s Gillespie Field in California. Watch our Early Analysis video of that accident.

Apply credit to your ASI transcript for watching this video:

Message from ASI Staff

We share a deep passion for aviation safety. As compassionate pilots, we bring together safety research, analysis, and knowledge in creative ways to share aviation safety education with you—with the ultimate goal of one day having zero fatal accidents in GA. If you find this information valuable, please consider a donation to support our work.