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Scottsdale Arizona airplane accident

Posted on Dec 26, 2011

A preliminary report on an airplane crash near the Scottsdale Arizona Airport (SDL)  indicated that the pilot had the sun in his eyes moments before crashing a Cirrus SR22 small aircraft into a Scottsdale neighborhood. The NTSB says an air traffic controller working at Scottsdale Tower told the pilot, Frank E. Smith (of Pinetop and Scottsdale) to report when he had a Gulfstream jet, that was cleared for the approach to the Airport ahead of Smith, in visual sight. Smith told the air traffic controller that the sun was in his eyes, and that he didn't see the jet he was following. Smith eventually told the air traffic controller that he had the aircraft in sight. The crash occurred soon after. Smith passed away. One passenger survived.

Air traffic controllers have an affirmative duty to sequence aircraft safely behind traffic they are following. This duty includes ensuring that aircraft maintain proper spacing at all times. This responsibility includes monitoring pilots to ensure that they have followed instructions issued by the tower. That means that even if a pilot takes an action on his or her own, controllers are required to monitor and correct actions that place aircraft in close proximity to each other.

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