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TRAINING & SAFETY

Early Analysis Midair Collision

At Watsonville Municipal Airport Between a Cessna 340A and a Cessna 152

UPDATE: The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report (WPR22FA309) regarding the investigation into the mid-air between a Cessna 340A (N740WJ) and a Cessna 152 (N49931) at Monterey Bay, CA.

On August 18, 2022, a twin-engine Cessna 340A with two persons on board and a single-engine Cessna 152 with one person on board collided on final approach at Watsonville Municipal Airport in California. Sadly, all three occupants were killed in the tragic collision.

The weather was VFR, clear, with 10 miles visibility. The Cessna 152 had been doing traffic pattern work and was on a left base for Runway 20 turning final. The twin Cessna was on a straight-in approach for Runway 20. ADS-B tracking data appears to indicate that the twin’s airspeed was high during descent and final approach to Runway 20. According to ATC recordings, about 10 seconds after the twin Cessna pilot announced on the common traffic advisory that he was three miles out, the Cessna 152 pilot announced being on a left base for Runway 20. The twin pilot then called a one mile final and that he was looking for the traffic on left base. The Cessna 152 pilot immediately responded that he saw the twin behind him—seconds later he said he was going around because the twin was closing in fast. That was the last transmission from either aircraft.

Following the collision, the Cessna 152 crashed in a grassy area near the runway, bursting into flames. The Cessna 340 crashed on the runway, veered off and came to rest into a hangar.

In Early Analysis: Midair Collision at Watsonville Municipal 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.