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N5ZA accident description

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Tail numberN5ZA
Accident dateFebruary 08, 2000
Aircraft typeMoravan Z242L
LocationZion, IL
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On February 8, 2000, about 1504 central standard time, a Moravan Z242L, N5ZA, and a Cessna 172P, N99063, collided in flight over a residential area of Zion, Illinois, approximately 2 miles from the approach end of runway 23 at the Waukegan Regional Airport (UGN), Waukegan, Illinois. N5ZA impacted the roof of a hospital, and N99063 came to rest on a residential street after striking a tree and a sidewalk. Both airplanes were destroyed on impact. The pilot and passenger on board N5ZA were fatally injured. The student pilot of N99063 was also fatally injured. Both airplanes were operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 without flight plans. Daytime visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. N5ZA's cross-country flight originated at Sheboygan, Wisconsin, at 1400.

At 1338:34, the pilot of N99063 contacted the UGN air traffic control tower (UGN ATCT). The pilot reported that she was 7 miles south of the airport, confirmed having the automatic terminal information service information, and requested permission to perform practice takeoffs and landings. At 1342:18, the UGN ATCT local controller (LC) cleared N99063 for touch and go, and instructed the pilot to make a right hand traffic pattern. Over the next 45 minutes, the pilot of N99063 operated in the closed traffic pattern and performed nine practice takeoffs and landings. At 1426:26, the pilot of N99063 requested clearance for the option and performed a full stop landing.

At 1455:25, the pilot of N5ZA made his initial call to UGN ATCT. Approximately 6 seconds later, the pilot reported that he was 15 miles northeast of the airport. The LC acknowledged the call and asked the pilot, "are you coming down the shoreline?" The pilot responded, "That's affirmative." (Radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] from its Chicago terminal radar approach control [TRACON], which covers the traffic pattern altitude at UGN, showed that N5ZA was 4.5 miles east of the shoreline). The LC instructed the pilot to "report turning final at the shoreline for the straight in [to] runway two three." The pilot responded, "ok straight in for two three thanks."

At 1457:42, the pilot of N99063 reported to UGN ATCT that she was holding short of runway 23 and was "ready for departure." The LC instructed N99063 to "hold short." The pilot acknowledged. At 1457:57, the LC instructed N99063 to "taxi into position and hold," and, 10 seconds later, he cleared N99063 for takeoff.

At 1459:48, the LC asked the pilot of N5ZA for his position. The pilot replied that he was "just about a mile or two off the lake...off the shoreline." (However radar data from Chicago TRACON showed that N5ZA was actually 3.75 miles northeast of the shore along the runway 23 extended centerline [approximately 7.75 miles from the end of the runway] and 2.7 miles from shore, with the shoreline being abeam to the right side of the aircraft.) At 1459:53, the LC asked the pilot, "are you straight in still?" The pilot responded, "ah yes sir." The LC instructed the pilot to "keep your speed up as much as feasible cleared to land." The pilot acknowledged and stated, "peddling as fast as I can."

At 1500:38, the LC instructed N99063 to "continue on the downwind advise when you see a red low wing aircraft straight in on final." The pilot of N99063 responded, "looking for the traffic." (Radar data from Chicago TRACON revealed that N99063 was established on the downwind leg, approximately 0.7 mile due north of the approach end of runway 23. The radar also revealed that N5ZA was 2.3 miles northeast of the shoreline, 6.3 miles from the approach end of runway 23.) At 1500:50, the pilot of N5ZA stated, "zulu alpha's the white zlin." The LC acknowledged and transmitted to N99063, "it'll be a white low wing aircraft." The pilot of N99063 acknowledged. At 1501:16, the pilot of N99063 stated, "negative traffic," and asked the LC to advise her when to turn for her base leg. The LC acknowledged. (Radar data from Chicago TRACON showed that N99063 was approximately 1.75 miles northeast of the approach end of runway 23 and that N5ZA was 1.4 miles northeast of the shoreline, 5.3 miles from the approach end of runway 23.) In a post accident interview, the LC stated that at this point he could not see N99063 and that he had lost sight of the aircraft about 1.5 miles northeast of the field. The LC also stated that he could not see N5ZA at that time. He added that weather conditions "got hazy near the water."

At 1501:41, the LC asked the pilot of N5ZA how far out he was from the shoreline; the pilot responded that he was "just crossing the shoreline." (Radar data from Chicago TRACON showed that N5ZA was 0.8 miles from the shoreline, approximately 4.8 miles from the approach end of runway 23.) At 1502:09, the LC asked the pilot of N99063 if she saw N5ZA yet. The pilot of N99063 responded, "negative." At 1502:12, the LC asked the pilot of N99063, "have you passed the shoreline?" The pilot replied, "gettin there." (Radar data from Chicago TRACON showed that N99063 was approximately 1.6 miles from the shore along the extended downwind leg for runway 23's right-hand traffic pattern.) At 1502:16, the LC instructed N99063 to "start your base leg now." At 1502:18, the pilot acknowledged. (About the same time, radar showed N5ZA crossing the shoreline, 4 miles from the approach end of the runway 23. As the pilot of N99063 turned onto base leg, then final approach, the airplane was slightly in front of N5ZA.) In a post accident interview, the LC stated that his decision to instruct N99063 to turn was based on his estimate of the elapsed time between losing sight of N99063 and N5ZA pilot's verbal report that he had crossed the shoreline.

At 1502:47, a Cessna 172, N52048 reported, "we have the cessna." The LC transmitted, "whoever advised they have the cessna in sight you were covered." N52048 stated, "we're back on the downwind and we have the landing traffic in sight." The LC asked N52048, "is it the low wing or cessna?" N52048 replied, "it's the cessna." At 1503:04, the LC responded, "follow in behind the cessna you're number three." The pilot of N52048 acknowledged. Chicago TRACON radar showed that, at 1503:05, N52048 was 2.5 miles northeast of the approach end of runway 23 on left downwind and that N5ZA was 3 miles from the approach end of runway 23 on the extended centerline. The radar also revealed that, at 1503:08, N99063 had completed her base leg and turned to final, at a point approximately 2.7 miles from the approach end of runway 23.

At 1503:19, the pilot of N5ZA reported, "negative contact with the cessna in front of us." (Chicago TRACON radar showed that N5ZA was approximately 2.6 miles from the approach end of runway 23.) The LC replied, "you should be number one Bob." At 1503:27, the pilot of N5ZA stated, "then we have the traffic in sight, thanks." (Chicago TRACON radar showed that N99063 was established on final 2.5 miles from the approach end of runway 23 and that N52048 was on left base 3.1 miles from the approach end of runway 23.) In a post accident interview, the LC stated that at this point, "something started to click [that] something was wrong" and that he used binoculars to try to get the aircraft in sight. The LC stated that he saw N5ZA at this time but that he did not see N99063.

At 1503:38, the LC instructed the pilot of N99063 to "advise when you turn final." At 1503:40, the pilot of N99063 reported that she was on final approach. The LC stated, "thank you." At 1503:53, the LC asked N5ZA, "do you see a cessna in front of you?" At 1504:00, the pilot of N5ZA responded, "[N5ZA] just had a midair." The LC responded, "we just saw that." (Chicago TRACON's last radar target from N5ZA was received at 1503:59 and showed that N5ZA was 2 miles from the approach end of runway 23.) The LC immediately instructed all other airborne aircraft to depart the pattern.

Several witnesses on the ground stated that they had seen N5ZA strike N99063 on its left side from behind near the flap. One witness stated that he heard a "pop" when he looked up and that he saw pieces of metal come off of an airplane; however, he was unable to determine from which airplane the pieces had departed. The witness stated that N99063 was below N5ZA and that it looked as if the two airplanes' wings had touched. Another witness stated that, when she first saw the two airplanes, one airplane seemed to be following the other. She stated that, after the two airplanes collided, one airplane spiraled down, and the other airplane continued for about 1 second and then nose-dived.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

N5ZA Pilot The pilot of N5ZA held a private pilot certificate with a single-engine land airplane rating. According to FAA airman records, at the time he received his private pilot certificate, on July 23, 1995, the pilot had accumulated 516 total flight hours, 462 hours of which was dual flight and 54 hours of which was solo flight. At his flight physical on December 12, 1998, the pilot reported that he had accumulated 1,200 total flight hours, 150 of which were flown in the 6 months preceding the accident. A personal logbook showed that the pilot had logged in 12.6 hours in a Moravan Z242 as of January 15, 1999. A certified flight instructor reported that he had given the pilot a biennial flight review in a Cessna Model 182 on January 16, 2000. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on December 12, 1998, with the limitation that he wears corrective lenses for distance vision and possess corrective lenses for near vision.

N5ZA Pilot-Rated Passenger The pilot-rated passenger on board N5ZA held an airline transport pilot certificate with an airplane multiengine land rating and commercial privileges for single-engine land airplanes. At his flight physical on November 24, 1999, the pilot-rated passenger reported that he had accumulated 1,500 total flight hours, 15 of which were flown in the 6 months preceding the accident. According to his pilot logbook, the pilot-rated passenger had successfully completed a biennial flight review in a Beech BE-36 on August 15, 1999. The logbook also showed that the pilot-rated passenger had previously logged 4.1 hours in N5ZA with the accident pilot. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on November 24, 1999, with no restrictions.

N99063 Student Pilot The student pilot of N99063 was enrolled in a professional pilot course at American Flyers, West Chicago, Illinois. She began her flight training on November 19, 1999. On January 14, 2000, the student flew her first solo flight, and her student certificate was endorsed for solo flight. According to the student pilot's logbook, as of February 7, 2000, she had accumulated 35.8 total flight hours in Cessna model 172 single-engine airplanes. Her most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued December 18, 1999, with the limitation that she wears corrective lenses.

Local Controller The LC began working as an air traffic controller in 1972 for the U.S. Army. He started working for the FAA in 1975. In 1981, he ceased working for the FAA and has since worked for air traffic contract companies at Topeka, Kansas, and UGN ATCT. The LC began working at UGN ATCT on May 6, 1990, shortly after the tower service was established. The LC holds control tower operator certificate number 21660634, dated May 23, 1990. The LC has served as the tower manager since October 1993. The LC's training records indicate that he was recertified on all positions on July 25, 1995, and completed controller-in-charge training on January 5, 1998. His most recent second-class medical certificate was issued July 6, 1999.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

N5ZA N5ZA, a Moravan Z242L, was co-owned by the pilot and a friend and was flown for pleasure. The airplane was based at UGN. The airplane underwent an annual inspection on November 3, 1999. At that time, the total airframe time was 96.4 hours, and the recording tachometer read 38.3 hours.

N99063 N99063, a Cessna 172P, was owned by AIE of New York, Inc., Ronkonkoma, New York, and operated by the West Chicago branch of American Flyers. The airplane was based at the Palwaukee Airport, Wheeling, Illinois. The airplane was used for flight training in several courses offered by the school. The airplane underwent a 100-hour inspection on January 10, 2000. At that time, the total airframe time was 12,099.6 hours, and the recording tachometer read 1,021.7 hours. The tachometer time observed by the investigator-in-charge at the accident site was 1,081.8 hours.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

About 1455, the surface weather observation taken at UGN was clear skies, 10 miles visibility, temperature 33 degrees Fahrenheit (F), dew point 23 degrees F, wind 220 degrees at 17 knots, altimeter setting of 30.19 inches of Mercury.

Several witnesses near UGN, in the air and on the ground, reported hazy conditions over Lake Michigan and along its shore.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

UGN lies on the north-northwest side of Waukegan, Illinois, at latitude 42 degrees, 25.33 minutes north, and longitude 87 degrees, 52.07 minutes west. Zion, Illinois, is 2 miles north-northeast of the airport. The airport has two runways: 23 and 32. Runway 23 is 6,000 feet long and 150 feet wide and has a concrete surface. Runway 32 is 3,251 feet long and 75 feet wide and has a concrete surface. The airport is located approximately 3 miles west of Lake Michigan's shore. The approach end of runway 23 is 4 miles from the shore, as measured along the extended centerline by airport personnel. The airport is surrounded by Class D airspace up to 3,200 feet mean sea level (msl). The Chicago O'Hare International Airport's Class B airspace begins 1 mile south of the airport at 3,600 feet msl.

UGN handles approximately 100,000 aircraft operations per year. Although operations are predominantly general aviation, they also range from flight training, generated both locally and from other airports, to high-performance corporate jet operations. Many aircraft use UGN ATCT as a checkpoint to avoid having to fly into Chicago O'Hare's airspace.

UGN ATCT was established in 1989 as a Level 1 tower. The FAA funded the initial construction and equipment. In 1994, under the Federal Contract Tower Program, a private contractor, Midwest Air Traffic Control Services, was awarded the bid to operate the tower and provide controller and supervisory staffing. The FAA retains ownership of the facilities and equipment and conducts controller certification.

UGN ATCT operates from 0600 to 2000 local time, year round. Four controllers and a tower manager, who works on an operational schedule similar to the controllers, staff the tower. The contractor also provides "rovers," who are controllers certified at more than one facility that can fill in as needed.

The tower cab is equipped with radio transceivers and communications equipment. Airport lighting controls and direct reading wind and altimeter instruments are located on the tower console. Controllers use strip bays and magnetic chips to remind them about aircraft positions. An Automated Surface Observation System displays weather information to the controllers. At the time of the accident, UGN ATCT was not equipped with a Flight Data Input/Output computer or a tower radar display monitor.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The Safety Board's on scene investigation began on February 8, 2000, at 1930. The accident scene consisted of three locations in Zion, Illinois: the impact site of N99063, the impact site of N5ZA, and a one-block area northeast of the N99063 impact site, where numerous pieces from both airplanes were found.

N5ZA Most of the airplane's main wreckage, which consisted of the charred remains of the airplane's cockpit, left and right wings, aft fuselage, and empennage, rested on top of the southwest corner of the hospital's (Midwestern Regional Medical Center) roof. The airplane's forward fuselage, including the cowling, engine, propeller hub, firewall, and instrument panel, was found suspended through

SEE NARRATIVE CHI99MA066A.

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.