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N7729 accident description

Nevada map... Nevada list
Crash location 38.844722°N, 119.497222°W
Nearest city Smith, NV
38.800468°N, 119.327381°W
9.6 miles away
Tail number N7729
Accident date 28 Aug 2006
Aircraft type Schleicher ASW27-18
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report



On August 28, 2006, at 1506 Pacific daylight time, a Raytheon Aircraft Company Hawker 800XP transport airplane, N879QS, and a Schleicher ASW27-18 glider, N7729, collided in midair about 10 miles west-northwest of Smith, Nevada. Both airplanes sustained substantial damage. The Hawker flight crew (both airline transport pilots) sustained minor injuries, while their three passengers were not injured. The glider pilot (a private pilot) received minor injuries. The Hawker 800XP was fractionally owned by different corporations and managed by NetJets Aviation, Inc., of Columbus, Ohio. Its flight was being conducted under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 Subpart K as an executive/corporate flight. The glider was registered to a private individual and was operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 as a personal flight. An instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the Hawker, which began its flight from Carlsbad, California, at 1400, and was destined for Reno, Nevada. No flight plan had been filed for the glider, which was on a local flight that had departed Minden, Nevada, at 1300. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the collision.

1.1.1 Hawker 800XP Flight Crew Statements

According to interviews conducted by the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC), the flight crew indicated that they were cleared by air traffic control from 16,000 feet to 11,000 feet. The captain was the flying pilot and the first officer was working the radios. Oakland Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) transferred the flight to Reno approach control just prior to the collision. The first officer tuned in the Reno approach control radio frequency and looked out the right cockpit window. He then heard the captain shout and the audio tone for the autopilot, and noted that the captain had pushed the control yoke down and to the right. As he was turning his head to see what was going on, he observed the captain's side of the instrument panel "explode."

The captain reported that they were cleared to descend and as she looked outside she noted something out of the corner of her eye to the left. As she looked to the left, she noted a glider filling the windshield. She moved the control yoke down and to the right in an attempt to avoid hitting the glider.

The first officer and captain reported that the cockpit was noisy with wind after the collision, and the captain's headset had been knocked off. The first officer attempted to communicate with Reno controllers but had difficulty. The captain recovered the airplane as the first officer communicated to Reno that they had some sort of structural problem (he later learned that they had collided with a glider) and declared an emergency. The crew asked for vectors to the Reno airport as their instrument panel was severely damaged by the impact. As the flight progressed north, they spotted an airport and asked air traffic controllers if the RNO airport was at their 11 o'clock. The controllers responded by indicating that the airport was at their 11 o'clock at 20 miles. The crew continued to the airport they observed (Carson City, Nevada, CXP) and elected to land.

As the flight neared CXP, the flight crew noted that the right engine shut down as a result of the impact. The flight crew entered a left downwind for runway 9 and the landing gear would not extend normally. The flight crew overshot final for runway 9 due to the terrain limiting the available length of the downwind leg and attempts to maintain an adequate airspeed to control the airplane. Then, they entered the downwind leg for runway 27. As the captain slowed the airplane for final approach she asked the first officer to assist in controlling the airplane's bank and pitch attitudes. The airplane touched down on the runway centerline, with the landing gear retracted, and came to rest uneventfully.

The airplane was equipped with a cockpit voice recorder (CVR), which recorded the captain and first officer's communications with air traffic control, and with one another, as they descended toward RNO. The last clearance received from Oakland ARTCC was for them to descend to flight level (FL) 220, then, at pilot discretion, maintain 16,000 feet. The captain and first officer then discussed the descent and/or approach, and at 1506:19, the CVR recorded a sound similar to a gasp on the captain's microphone followed by unusual electronic sounds. The recording ended at that point, at 1506:24.

1.1.2 Glider Pilot Statement

On the morning of the accident, the glider pilot received a flight review in a DG-505 glider and then flew his first flight in the accident glider. He started his second flight in the accident glider at 1300. He intended on thermal flying for about 5 hours and wanted to stay in the local area to familiarize himself with the accident glider. He flew around the local area and entered a thermal on the southwest side of Mt. Seagul. He entered a 30-degree left bank spiraling climb at 50 knots. During the climb, as the glider turned toward the south, the pilot saw a jet aircraft heading toward him. He estimated that one second passed between the time he noted the jet aircraft and the time they collided. He said he may have entered a slight nose down control input, but it wasn't enough to avoid the collision.

The Hawker jet impacted the right wing of the glider near the right outboard wing joint (the glider had a 4-piece wing with two inboard sections and two outboard sections). The glider entered a flat spin after the impact, so the pilot elected to remove the cockpit canopy and bail out. After removing the canopy, the pilot checked his ripcord location, unbuckled his restraint system, and bailed out of the glider. The pilot pulled the ripcord and the parachute successfully opened. During his descent, he observed the glider spiral to the ground below him and noted that the left wing and inboard section of the right wing remained attached to the fuselage. He landed uneventfully, but sustained minor injuries when the parachute dragged him along the ground. The pilot waited near his landing area for 1.5 hours before he began walking toward Carson Valley. After 2 hours and 10 minutes of walking along a dirt road, he was picked up by local authorities.


1.2.1 Hawker Flight Crew Information

The captain held an airline transport pilot certificate with a multi-engine airplane rating and type ratings in Cessna 500 and Hawker Siddeley HS-125 airplanes. She also held a commercial pilot certificate for single-engine airplanes. She was issued a first-class medical certificate on April 17, 2006, with no limitations. According to the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB Form 6120.1/2) submitted by NetJets Aviation, Inc., the captain accumulated a total of 6,134 total flight hours, of which 1,564 hours were accrued in Hawker 800XP airplanes.

The captain was wearing sunglasses at the time of the event.

The first officer held an airline transport pilot certificate for multi-engine airplanes and type ratings in Beech 400, Hawker Siddeley HS-125, and Mitsubishi MU-300 airplanes. He also held a commercial pilot certificate for single-engine airplanes. He was issued a first-class medical certificate on May 16, 2006, with a limitation indicating he must wear corrective lenses. According to the 6120.1/2 Form, he accumulated 3,848 total flight hours, of which 548 hours were accrued in the Hawker 800XP.

The first officer was wearing corrective glasses, with sunshades clipped over the glasses, at the time of the event.

1.2.2 Glider Pilot Information

The glider pilot was a Japanese national, and had last flown in the Minden area in 2000. He held a private pilot certificate with a glider rating. He obtained the equivalent of a second-class medical certificate on June 20, 2006, from Japan's Civil Aeronautics Board; however, he did not hold a current FAA-issued medical certificate, nor was one required to act as pilot-in-command of a glider.


1.3.1 Hawker 800XP Information

The Hawker 800XP was equipped with a Traffic Collision and Avoidance System (TCAS). TCAS is an airborne collision avoidance system based on radar beacon signals, which operates independent of ground-based equipment. TCAS-I generates traffic advisories only. TCAS-II generates traffic advisories, and resolution (collision avoidance) advisories (RA) in the vertical plane. For an aircraft equipped with TCAS to provide an RA, it must receive beacon information from the transponder installed on another local aircraft. The Hawker was equipped with the TCAS-II version, which would have provided a RA had it received a signal from another transponder.

1.3.2 Glider Information

The glider was equipped with a panel mounted communication radio, global positioning system (GPS) unit, a Cambridge 302, and a Mode C transponder; however, the pilot did not turn on the GPS and transponder. According to the glider pilot, he did not turn on the transponder because he was only intending on remaining in the local glider area, and because he wanted to reserve his batteries for radio use. The glider was equipped with two batteries (one main and one spare), however, due to the previous glider flights, the pilot was unsure of the remaining charge in the battery.


At 1456, the weather observation facility located at RNO reported the following information: wind from 280 degrees at 11 knots with gusts to 17 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, a few clouds at 11,000 feet, temperature 34 degrees Celsius, dew point minus 04 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 30.01 inches of mercury.


The Hawker 800XP was in radio communication with Oakland ARTCC and had just been handed off to the RNO Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) facility when the collision occurred. The flight crew had not yet contacted the RNO TRACON prior to the collision. According to air traffic control personnel located within the RNO TRACON, they did not see any primary radar returns in the vicinity of the Hawker on their radar screen prior to establishing contact with the Hawker and/or the collision.


According to the Reno TRACON personnel, when traffic is arriving and departing to the south, it is common for them to bring flights into RNO from the south, east of the 157 radial from Mustang VOR (very high omnidirectional range navigation facility). This provides room for departing aircraft over the Carson Valley (west of the 157 radial). The inbound flights to Reno are usually descended from 16,000 feet to 11,000 feet in the area of the collision.

According to the local glider operators, the area of the collision is very popular with gliders for the thermal lift provided by the Pine Nut Ridge (Mt. Seagul is located on the south side of the Pine Nut Ridge). The gliders can reach altitudes of 18,000 feet (FL 180) in that area. If they care to go higher than FL 180 in that area, they either need to have a transponder with mode C capabilities or activate a glider operation box that provides clearance from arriving traffic. According to the local glider pilots, this box is usually activated during wave flying conditions, and that during thermal flying the pilots stay below FL 180.


The Hawker jet was equipped with a Universal CVR30B 30-minute solid-state CVR (serial number 257). The exterior of the CVR showed no signs of heat or impact damage. Information recovered from the CVR consisted of four tracks of unusable to good quality audio recordings. The first track contained no audio information. The second track contained audio information from the first officer's audio panel, and the third track contained audio information from the captain's audio panel. The fourth track contained audio information from the cockpit area microphone, but the background noise level for this track was too low for intelligibility. The CVR did not contain any recorded communications after the midair collision.


Review of radar data provided by Reno TRACON personnel indicated that the collision likely occurred at 16,000 feet mean sea level (msl) at a latitude and longitude position of 38 degrees 50 minutes 41 seconds north and 119 degrees 29 minutes 50 seconds west. The collision took place about 42 nautical miles south-southeast of the RNO airport.

1.8.1 Hawker 800XP Damage

The Hawker sustained significant impact damage to its nose section. A section of the glider's wing spar remained imbedded in the nose structure, with the captain's side sustaining the most damage. The pressure bulkhead had been compromised by the impact. The captain's instrument panel was destroyed with the primary instrumentation being indiscernible. Examination of control continuity after the accident, with the glider spar in place, revealed that the elevator controls could not be pushed forward of a neutral position.

The right wing sustained leading edge damage that compromised the fuel tank. The left horizontal stabilizer's leading edge exhibited a large hole that extended aft to the mounting flange. The belly of the fuselage and inboard wings sustained scrape marks from landing with the gear retracted.

The left engine fan blades displayed nicks and cracks, and the lower cowling drain mass was broken. The right engine inlet area also sustained significant impact damage leaving a large void into the cowling. The fan blades were cracked and broken. The tail pipe had fiberglass embedded in the duct and fuel was dripping from the lower cowling and fuel control unit.

The CVR was removed and sent to the NTSB's Vehicle Recorder Laboratory in Washington, D.C. The Honeywell Instrument Package (navigation, flight guidance and enhanced ground proximity warning systems - EGPWS) was removed and shipped to Honeywell's facility in Phoenix, Arizona, for further examination.

1.8.2 Glider Damage

As noted from the glider pilot's statement, the right wing separated just inboard of the outer wing joint. The glider also sustained damage during its impact with terrain.


During the post-accident examination of the Hawker jet, it was noted that the inboard attach points for the #5 and #7 seats were loose and the seatbelts were buckled. Interviews with the passengers revealed that one passenger was in seat #7, with his lap belt buckled, when the midair collision occurred. While the aircraft was in the traffic pattern at Carson City, the first officer informed the passengers that they were going to make a gear-up landing and everyone was to secure their seatbelts. The passenger in seat #7 tightened his lap belt and the inboard attachment end came out from between the seat cushions. He jumped up from seat #7 and sat down in seat #5 and buckled the lap belt. When he went to tighten that belt, the inboard attachment end came out from between the seat cushions. He then grabbed onto the attached portion of the seatbelt, leaned over in the prone position, and held on.

Examination of the belt's attach points revealed that the metal keepers for the hook were distorted, bent, and to some extent, expanded.


On September 28, 2006, engineers at Honeywell's facility in Phoenix, Arizona, examined the EGPWS and found that no data had been recorded at the time of the impact with the glider. None of the other submitted instruments contained data on the accident flight.


1.10.1 Transponder and Altitude Reporting Equipment Use

Transponder use is regulated by 14 CFR Part 91.215. According to that regulation, gliders are not required to have a Mode C transponder installed. However, the rule does stipulate that "…each person operating an aircraft equipped with an operable ATC transponder maintained in accordance with Sec. 91.413 of this part shall operate the transponder, including Mode C equipment, if installed…"

1.10.2 Local Soaring Procedures

There are three soaring groups near the RNO airpor

NTSB Probable Cause

The failure of the glider pilot to utilize his transponder and the high closure rate of the two aircraft, which limited each pilot's opportunity to see and avoid the other aircraft.

© 2009-2020 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.