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Accident description
Last updated: 28 April 2017
Date:Wednesday 19 July 1967
Type:Silhouette image of generic B721 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing 727-22
Operator:Piedmont Airlines
Registration: N68650
C/n / msn: 18295/4
First flight: 1963-05-22 (4 years 2 months)
Total airframe hrs:6445
Engines: 3 Pratt & Whitney JT8D-7
Crew:Fatalities: 5 / Occupants: 5
Passengers:Fatalities: 74 / Occupants: 74
Total:Fatalities: 79 / Occupants: 79
Collision casualties:Fatalities: 3
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Hendersonville, NC (   United States of America)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Asheville Municipal Airport, NC (AVL/KAVL), United States of America
Destination airport:Roanoke Municipal Airport, VA (ROA/KROA), United States of America
Flightnumber: 22
Piedmont Flight 22 took off from Asheville runway 16 at 11:58 for an IFR flight to Roanoke. The flight crew had to maintain runway heading until reaching 5000 feet. The controller placed this restriction on Flight 22 to keep it on a southeasterly course until Cessna 310 N3121S had reported over the Asheville VOR. The Cessna, owned by Lanseair was on a company business flight from Charlotte, NC to Asheville, NC with three occupants on board. While the Boeing 727 was still on its takeoff roll the pilot of the Cessna reported "Two one Sierra just passed over the VOR, we're headed for the ... (4sec pause) ... for .. ah .. Asheville now." The Approach controller then cleared the Cessna to descend and maintain 6000 feet. At 11:59:44 the controller cleared Flight 22 to "... climb unrestricted to the VOR, report passing the VOR". He then cleared the Cessna for an ADF-2 approach to runway 16. The Boeing 727 was in a climbing left turn
when both aircraft collided at an altitude of 6132 feet.
Weather was a 2500 feet ceiling with broken clouds and 4 miles visibility in haze.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The deviation of the Cessna from its IFR clearance resulting in a flight path into airspace allocated to the Piedmont Boeing 727. The reason for such deviation cannot be specifically or positively identified. The minimum control procedures utilized by the FAA in handling of the Cessna were a contributing factor."

Mid air collision
Loss of control


Follow-up / safety actions
In June 2006, the NTSB agreed to reopen an investigation into the collision. Local amateur historian Paul Houle filed a petition for reconsideration in March 2005 after years of investigating the history of the collision. Houle's petition made three main arguments:
1) The original NTSB report ignored the fact that the Cessna pilot reported his heading, which should have alerted the air traffic controller that there was a problem;
2) The NTSB report made no mention of a fire in a cockpit ashtray that preoccupied the Piedmont crew in the final 35 seconds before the collision; and 3) The lead NTSB investigator of the accident was the brother of a Piedmont vice president.
In early 2007, the NTSB decided to confirm their original findings, upholding the probable cause it found in 1968 for the midair collision. In a February 2007 letter, the NTSB notified Paul Houle it had voted 3-1 that his arguments were unsubstantiated.

NTSB issued 1 Safety Recommendation

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This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Asheville Municipal Airport, NC to Roanoke Municipal Airport, VA as the crow flies is 309 km (193 miles).

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Boeing 727

  • 6th loss
  • 6th fatal accident
  • 1832 built
  • 2nd worst accident (at the time)
  • 24th worst accident (currently)
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 United States of America
  • 9th worst accident (at the time)
  • 30th worst accident (currently)
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