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Accident description
Last updated: 28 April 2017
Date:Monday 25 September 1978
Type:Silhouette image of generic B722 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing 727-214
Operator:Pacific Southwest Airlines - PSA
Registration: N533PS
C/n / msn: 19688/589
First flight: 1968-06-04 (10 years 4 months)
Total airframe hrs:24088
Engines: 3 Pratt & Whitney JT8D-7B
Crew:Fatalities: 7 / Occupants: 7
Passengers:Fatalities: 128 / Occupants: 128
Total:Fatalities: 135 / Occupants: 135
Ground casualties:Fatalities: 7
Collision casualties:Fatalities: 2
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:5,6 km (3.5 mls) NE of San Diego International Airport, CA (SAN) (   United States of America)
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Los Angeles International Airport, CA (LAX/KLAX), United States of America
Destination airport:San Diego International Airport, CA (SAN/KSAN), United States of America
Gibbs Flite Center Cessna 172 aircraft (N7711G) had taken off from Montgomery Field at 08:16 PST and proceeded to Lindbergh Field were two practice ILS approaches to runway 09 were flown. At 09:00 the Cessna pilot was instructed to maintain VFR at or below 3500 feet, heading 70deg. PSA Flight 182 (a scheduled passenger flight from Sacramento to San Diego via Los Angeles), cleared for a runway 27 approach, was advised by the approach controller that there was traffic in front of them. The PSA crew reported the traffic in sight immediately thereafter and the PSA flight was instructed to maintain visual separation and contact Lindbergh tower. Lindbergh tower again warned the PSA flight crew of "traffic, twelve o'clock, one mile, a Cessna". The crew had lost track of the Cessna and radioed back: "think he's passing off to our right". The flight crew still weren't sure of the actual position of the Cessna.
At 09:01:28 a conflict alert warning began in the San Diego Approach Control facility, indicating a collision hazard between PSA182 and the Cessna. At 09:01:47 the approach controller warned the Cessna pilot of traffic in the vicinity. At the same moment both aircraft collided. Flight 182 was descending and overtaking the Cessna, which was climbing in a wings level attitude. The Cessna broke up immediately and exploded after colliding with the Boeing's right wing. The Boeing entered a shallow right descending turn and crashed into a residential area.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The failure of the flightcrew of Flight 182 to comply with the provisions of a maintain-visual-separation clearance, including the requirement to inform the controller when visual contact was lost; and the air traffic control procedures in effect which authorized the controllers to use visual separation procedures in a terminal area environment when the capability was available to provide either lateral or vertical separation to either aircraft. Contributing to the accident were (1) the failure of the controller to advise Flight 182 of the direction of movement of the Cessna; (2) the failure of the pilot of
the Cessna to maintain his assigned heading; and (3) the improper resolution by the controller of the conflict alert."

Accident investigation:
investigating agency: National Transport Safety Bureau (NTSB) - United States of America
status: Final
number: NTSB/AAR-79-05
released:19 April 1979
duration: 206 days (7 months)
download report: Pacific Southwest Airlines, Inc., Boeing 727-214, N533PS, an Gibbs Flight Center, Inc., Cessna 172, N7711G, San Diego, C (NTSB/AAR-79-05)

Mid air collision
Loss of control

» NTSB-AAR-79-05
» NTSB-AAR-82-07

Follow-up / safety actions

NTSB issued 6 Safety Recommendations

Show all AD's and Safety Recommendations


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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 Los Angeles International Airport, CA to San Diego International Airport, CA as the crow flies is 175 km (109 miles).

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Boeing 727

  • 30th loss
  • 26th fatal accident
  • 1832 built
  • 3rd worst accident (at the time)
  • 10th worst accident (currently)
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 United States of America
  • The worst accident (at the time)
  • 9th worst accident (currently)
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