ASN Aircraft accident Dassault Falcon 20C N121GW Memphis International Airport, TN (MEM)
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Status:Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Date:Thursday 18 May 1978
Type:Silhouette image of generic FA20 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Dassault Falcon 20C
Operator:Flight Safety International
Registration: N121GW
MSN: 4
First flight: 1965
Crew:Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 4
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 0
Total:Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 4
Collision casualties:Fatalities: 2
Aircraft damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:6 km (3.8 mls) W of Memphis International Airport, TN (MEM) (   United States of America)
Phase: Approach (APR)
Departure airport:Memphis International Airport, TN (MEM/KMEM), United States of America
Destination airport:Memphis International Airport, TN (MEM/KMEM), United States of America
A Dassault Falcon 20 jet, N121GW, collided in midair with a Cessna 150M, N6423K, 3.7 miles west of Memphis International Airport, Tennessee, USA.
N121GW was being operated by Flight Safety International as a training flight. A flight instructor and three Saudi Arabian students were aboard. The training syllabus for that day called for multiple instrument approaches in the Memphis traffic pattern. Each student would fly 1 hour from the right (copilot) seat. The Falcon departed runway 17L at 10:07 and made multiple instrument approaches to runway 17R.
Cessna 150M, N6423K, was being operated by the Memphis Flying Club. The pilot-in-command was a flying club instructor pilot giving a familiarization flight. The Cessna departed Memphis International Airport at 11:24 and proceeded west to West Memphis Airport. After a brief stop, the Cessna departed West Memphis Airport at 11:59 to return to Memphis International Airport.
The Cessna was VFR and was receiving Stage III radar service. Both aircraft were under control of Memphis tower controllers and were in radar and radio contact with the tower.
At 12:10:02 the Cessna was cleared for a left downwind for runway 27. At 12:10:04 the Falcon reported at 2000 feet on a downwind for runway 17R. The controller cleared the flight for a heading of three five zero.
Both aircraft collided at 2000 feet. The Falcon continued straight and level for a few seconds when a fireball engulfed the aircraft just aft of the cockpit. The Falcon then turned to the right, rolled on its longitudinal axis, and dove to the ground. The Cessna crashed as well and all occupants of both planes were killed.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The failure of controller personnel to separate the aircraft as required by procedures established for a terminal radar service area, to insure that proper coordination was effected, to issue appropriate traffic advisories, and the failure of each flightcrew to see and avoid the other aircraft."

Accident investigation:

Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 196 days (7 months)
Accident number: NTSB-AAR-78-14
Download report: Final report

Mid air collision
Loss of control

Follow-up / safety actions

NTSB issued 3 Safety Recommendations

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photo of Dassault-Falcon-20C-N121GW
photo of Dassault-Falcon-20C-N121GW


This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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