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TRAINING & SAFETY

Early Analysis Midair Collision

at North Las Vegas between a Piper PA-46 Malibu and a Cessna 172

UPDATE: The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report (ERA22FA318) regarding the investigation into the mid-air between a Piper PA-46-350P (N97CX) and a Cessna 172N (N160RA) At the North Las Vegas airport, NV.

On July 17, 2022, a Piper PA-46 Malibu and a Cessna 172 Skyhawk collided during landing at North Las Vegas Airport in Nevada. Each aircraft had two persons on board and sadly all four occupants were killed in the tragic collision.

The Cessna had been doing traffic pattern work and had taken off from Runway 30L entering a right pattern for Runway 30R. The Malibu arrived at North Las Vegas on a flight from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and was cleared to fly overhead and land on Runway 30L. It appears from ADS-B tracking data that the Malibu flew midfield overhead the parallel runways and began a constant left turn setting up for landing on Runway 30R. The controller issued a second clearance for the Malibu to land on Runway 30L—a possible indication that the controller noticed the Malibu drifting toward Runway 30R. The two aircraft collided on the extended centerline of Runway 30R.

The accident appears to be a midair collision as a result of a wrong-surface event. Parallel runways, especially those offset like at North Las Vegas, can provide incorrect visual cues that can confuse a pilot. The Malibu pilot may have thought the aircraft was lined up for Runway 30L when instead it was lined up for Runway 30R. The accident illustrates the importance of situational awareness and conducting a visual check of the final approach segment to ensure it's clear of traffic before turning final for landing.

In Early Analysis: Midair Collision at North Las Vegas Airport, the AOPA Air Safety Institute makes a preliminary assessment of the accident, addressing notable portions of the tragic flights and highlighting areas the NTSB will likely investigate to determine a probable cause.

Take the AOPA Air Safety Institute's Runway Safety online course and review the Collision Avoidance safety spotlight to learn more about factors that might have contributed to this accident.