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tv   Why Planes Crash Collision Course  MSNBC  April 27, 2013 5:00pm-6:01pm PDT

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it's a big sky, until two planes end up in the same place. >> climb, climb. >> at the same time. 37,000 feet above the amazon, a corporate jet collides with a 737. >> every atom in my body i felt kind of implode. >> one mile above new york city, a dc-8 tears into the fuselage of a lockheed constellation. >> bang. i jumped up, i ran and never looked back. >> over san diego, a 727 slams
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into a cessna and it is caught on film. >> i knew it was big, i knew it was bad, but we didn't know it was a plane crash. >> outside los angeles, a small plane crashes into a dc-9, decimating several homes below. >> it just smelled like death, like smoke and death. >> eyewitnesses and survivors tell their harrowing stories, and dramatic animations put you right there with the troubled aircraft. that big sky just got a lot smaller. why planes crash: collision course. >> a new concept in air transportation, the travail has
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been taken out of transportation. >> when this was released by pan am in 1958, flying was a special occasion. people got dressed up, meals were served on white linen. >> we all know that's changed. an even more significant change is the increase in air traffic. flying over the u.s. in 1960, there would have been about 1400 planes in the sky at any given time. today that number is more like 7,000. >> in 2011 we flew almost three billion people. we would fly about the population of the earth every 24 months or so, and it is expected to grow. >> with such increase in volume worldwide, it seemed there would be a greater risk of planes colliding in the sky. but technology is more
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sophisticated than ever. so these types of accidents are actually less frequent than in the earlier days of passenger jet travel. that doesn't mean mid air collisions don't happen any more. because sometimes technology fails, and it is nearly impossible to eliminate human factors. in 2006, this plays out with catastrophic consequences for two planes flying over the amazon. a boeing 737 and a private corporate jet. >> i signed up to be a bus traveler writer to write about embraer, and while i was there, i ran into some guys from a long island charter company who had just bought a brand new $25
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million airplane, a legacy 600. there were six empty seats, i was like okay, i am in. turned out to be the most fateful decision of my life. >> september 29th, 2006. 2:52:00 p.m. the legacy takes off from a brazilian city. destination, the city of manaus. air traffic control instructs them to fly at 37,000 feet where it levels off by 3:33:00 p.m. two minutes later, flight 1907 departs for the country's capital of brazilia in the
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south. by then, this boeing reaches 37,000 feet. it is heading southeast, the legacy heading northwest. the two aircraft should be at different at tultitudes. instead they're on a collision course. >> it was a beautiful day, puffy white clouds in the sky, nothing obscuring our view. we took off for what was to be a routine flight with competent pilots in a brand new airplane. what could be bad about that. >> both sets of pilots are in contact with air traffic control. starting at 4:02, there's a problem. the legacy's radar data is no longer being received by air
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traffic control. at some point during the flight, the transponder that provides altitude information to the controller inadvertently disappears. >> a transponder is critical, not only to relay key information to air traffic control and nearby planes but also to enable tcas, the traffic avoidance system that warns when another plane is too close. >> traffic, traffic. >> and advises preventive action. in addition to the signal preventing legacy from sending data, there's another problem. well documented radio dead zones over the amazon. beginning at 4:26 p.m., air traffic control and legacy pilots make several attempts to verbally communicate. all unsuccessful. under normal circumstances they would acknowledge each other's
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calls. >> brazilian air traffic control system in overall shoddy performancegrammed its own consoles to give five radio frequencies for the area the pilots were in, four of which were in complete error, had nothing to do with that sector. >> they are told to fly 37,000 feet, when one controller hands it off to another at end of his shift, he says they're at 36,000 feet. in reality, the legacy and 737 are at the same altitude, traveling 500 miles per hour a piece. that adds up to a closure or combined speed of about 1,000 miles per hour. >> when they do collide at high velocity, there's typically
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total destruction of the aircraft. >> by the time radio contact is made at 4:53, the connection is so bad, the pilots and controller can't understand each other. the planes are closing in. >> everybody was sort of dozing, working. hear and feel bang. the loudest noise i've ever heard. i was in vietnam, heard bombs. every atom in my body, i felt kind of implode. i have flown as a passenger a lot, you go through all kinds of weather and turbulence and i've never felt an impact like this before. >> because of the angle they collide, the 737, though much larger, takes a far worse hit than the legacy. >> one of the wings which has a wing lit on it actually sliced through the 737 wing. there's a lot of flight control
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systems that are damaged, it rendered the airplane incapacitated, uncontrollable, as the 737 went out of control, the aero dynamic forces caused it to break up in flight. >> everyone on board the legacy knows something bad has happened. but they don't know they've collided with another aircraft. they don't even know their plane is damaged until joe sharky looks out his window. >> i opened my window and look out, this is a sight i'll simply never forget. i'm looking at the wing and part of it is missing and it is a jagged bit of metal. >> they need the first available airport. >> coming up, 35 heart stopping minutes in the air, and a landing seered into this passenger's memory. >> it was this moment of absolute serenity where it dawned on us all like oh, we're
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september 29, 2006. seven miles above the brazilian amazon, the planes collide. it is a devastating accident. the 737 is rendered uncontrollable, and plummets towards the ground. but the legacy is still in flight. its leftwinglet gone and stabilizer damaged. as the pilot struggled to fly the plane, no one on board knows there's been a mid air collision. what they do know is they're in trouble. >> to think that you may not see your family or they're going to read about you, see about your death on tv and on the newspaper
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was a horrible thought. >> i wrote a note to my wife and figured maybe they'll find the note. i said i love you, our time together has been golden. and you know, i'm sorry i'm going to die, but i said it in a way that was nice. >> like most plane crashes, a series of events, not just one, led to the collision over brazil. two planes fly toward her after air traffic control put them at the same altitude. they have limitation of contact between controllers. nearly an hour before the collision, the legacy transponder doesn't transmit. so two controllers working back to back shifts don't receive its signals. >> a competent controller would spot that within two or three sweeps. there's a sweep every ten seconds, within 20 or 30 seconds. this plane disappeared in that
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sense for 50, 5-0 minutes, not 20 or 30 seconds. >> within three minutes of impact, the transponder is re-activated, but the legacy is now compromised. it needs to land soon. >> the longest 35 minutes i've ever spent in my life, wondering were we going to make it safely, wondering with every turn would they lose control of the airplane. >> the closest runway is a military base, literally an air strip in the middle of the jungle. as the pilots desperately try to get the plane there, it is a white knuckle moment for everyone on board. >> we were within five minutes of not flying any more. it was clear, i mean, the trees were coming closer and closer, and i thought well, here we go. >> once safely on the ground, the passengers unaware how they got into the situation are happy
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to be alive. hours later, they are involved in a mid air collision with a 737, that the jet crashed in the jungle, and 154 people perished, and the mood quickly turns. >> i just sensed the change in the environment and i knew that we were now treated like criminal suspects. >> following the crash, there are protests in brazil with relatives of victims demanding more information about the crash. writer joe sharky says much of the anger turns toward the american survivors. >> crazy rumors were starting to fly in brazil, among them was that at the time of the accident because the reporter was on board, it was a brand new plane, the two american pilots were flying loop deloops to show the plane off over the central amazon, causing the disaster.
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now, that's crazy. >> of course when the plane's instruments were studied, it was clear the plane had been steady as a rock at 37,000 feet. >> joe sharky is held in brazil for two days. the pilots, joe la pore and january par dean oh held more than two months. when they're finally allowed to leave the country on december 9, 2006, they receive a warm welcome back at their company headquarters in long island, new york. but the pilots' problems are far from over. nine months after the accident, the brazilian government indicts the american pilots and four of its own air traffic controllers for exposing an aircraft to danger. the international aviation community has come out strongly against criminalizing accidents. >> we have to know what they were thinking, what decisions they were making, why they acted the way they did. and if there's a fear of going
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to jail and that punitive action against them, then that's going to inhibit the information that we as investigators get. >> the criminalization of aircraft accident investigations is an impediment to safety. when you have situations where there's not a deliberate act, the key focus needs to be let's not have a recurrence of it. >> in may, 2011, a federal judge in brazil acquits the legacy pilots of all charges but one, negligence for not monitoring their transponder. the final terms of the sentence are pending, but it seems unlikely the pilots will serve jail time. joel weiss, attorney for the pilots, say they were never at fault because the transponder was on. then without warning his clients say it went off or into standby mode. >> we have anecdotal evidence from all over the world,
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particularly europe, of this transponder unit failing without any indication whatsoever in the cockpit that it failed. >> components do fail. so it is not that it is necessarily been turned to standby, it is a failure. >> in brazil, one air traffic controller described by the judge as unqualified and incompetent is acquitted. another controller is convicted of negligence. in its final report, brazil's ntsb equivalent acknowledges failures of the brazilian controllers as well as legacy pilots, stating both parties should have become aware of loss of radio communication, far sooner than they did. in an e-mail, they state the accident investigation does not establish responsibility or guilt but identifies the contributing factors with the primary objective being prevention.
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if there's a lesson to be learned from this tragedy, it is that there will always be human factors that lead to accidents. >> with lack of transponder information for a period of time, that created human factors issues with regard to situational and positional awareness for the air traffic controller, whether military or civilian, it is the human involvement, and it is human error that starts the sequence of events. >> when we come back, more mid air collisions, over two of america's biggest cities. >> i jumped up and i ran and i never looked back. ok s o i' 've been having ok s an affair of sorts o i' with greek nonfat yogurt, loaded with protein 0% fat that thick creamy texture, i was in trouble. look i'm in a committed relationship with activia and i've been happy and so has my digestive system. now i'm even happier since activia greek showed up
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and accident forgiveness if you qualify. see what else comes standard at liberty mutual insurance. responsibility. what's your policy? before there was a modern air traffic control system, the burden of maintaining separation between commercial aircraft fell mainly on pilots. they kept their distance using what's called visual flight rules, otherwise known as see
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and be seen. >> think of it as driving your car, you avoid traffic by seeing it, not putting your car where there's another car. the airplane works in visual flight rules the same way. >> see and be seen is a catastrophic failure in two deadly collisions between the same two airlines, twa and united. the first crash is over the grand canyon, on june 30th, 1956. >> these two pilots were having to deviate around thunder storms, build ups that were occurring. you can't fly through them. so they were deviating around them. they actually didn't know that when they came back around the back side of the clouds, the other aircraft was there. >> the united dc-7 and twa lockheed constellation or super connie collide at 21,000 feet. at the time, it is the deadliest accident in aviation history. >> tragic aftermath of
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saturday's twa, united airlines crash which claimed 128 lives. >> it was a watershed event. it was one of those accidents that we as a society said we're not going to have that any more. >> the collision prompts the federal aviation act of 1958, which creates the faa, whose mission is to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world. unfortunately, change doesn't happen quickly enough. >> the wreckage went into the church, into the street, and into the surrounding buildings, but i imagine that was about the first contact with the ground, the top of that garage. >> it is a dreary december morning in 1960 when twa and
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united have another catastrophic incident, this time over new york city. 10:25 a.m., air traffic control alters the route of united flight to laguardia airport. 10:30, united at 14,000 feet, cleared to descend to 5,000. at the same moment, united 226 is heading to idlewild airport, known now as jfk, coming through 8,000 feet. united is told to head to a specific navigational fix or intersection where it is to enter a holding pattern and await further instructions, but there are problems. the plane has two navigational instruments used at the time to determine position.
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one of them isn't working and the plane is also traveling more than 500 miles per hour. a speed later determined to be excessive and the dc-8 flies past its clearance. >> i would equate it to driving down a street. if you know where you are and know the second left turn is the turn you need to make, that's great. but if you didn't see the first road to the left, you would drive beyond it because you didn't recognize the first cue. >> at 10:33 a.m., laguardia tower advises them of traffic to the right. no one realizes it, but the united dc-8 is headed straight for them. seconds later, as both planes approach 5,000, there's a brutal collision. one of the dc-8's engines tears through the fuselage of the
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super connie. the twa plane breaks into pieces and goes down on the spot, crashing in staten island's miller airfield. but the united jet manages to stay aloft for eight and a half more miles, until it is over brooklyn, where todd reed, 20 years old, is standing on the street. >> i crossed at 7th and sterling place, just stepping on the corner, when i heard a loud, loud whine. when i turned around, the wing of the plane, united airlines, was catching into the roof of the building i had just left. and there was a tremendous explosion. immediately i dropped to the ground, and moments after that, there was a second explosion. bang. just everything exploded.
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and now the whole place was on fire. i stayed on the ground for what i thought seemed to be a long time but i believe it was only several seconds. and i jumped up and i ran and i never looked back. >> on the street in brooklyn, people are astounded to learn there's a single survivor, 11-year-old from illinois who is thrown from the united plane into a snowbank. >> he had been driven a christmas gift to fly alone from chicago to new york and that's what happened. >> at the time barbara is a recent nursing school graduate, working at methodist hospital, a few blocks from the crash site. she's assigned to care for steven overnight. he's badly burned. >> i couldn't tell if he was white or black, he was just charcoal. i think they said it was 85% of his body.
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>> within hours the boy's father arrives in new york and speaks to the press. >> how do you and mrs. balls feel about your son being the sole survivor. >> we are great heart felt sympathy for all of the people that were not as fortunate. >> the country rallies behind steven, but his injuries are too grave. >> if i had been in nursing longer, i would have known there was no chance. but that's why i think they put me there. >> steven, our little 11-year-old boy, lone survivor of the plane crash in brooklyn expired at 1:00 p.m., just a few minutes ago. the little boy closed his eyes and went to sleep. >> with the final death toll at 134, including 6 on the ground, the 1960 clash over park slope
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replaces the grand canyon collision as deadliest u.s. commercial aviation disaster to that point. to investigate the accident, the civil aeronautics board, forerunner to the ntsb, uses black box technology for the first time ever. the conclusion, united flight 826 proceeded beyond its clearance limit, or the place it was told to go into a holding pattern. its high rate of speed and change of clearance or shortcut it was given by air traffic control are contributing factors. within three months president kennedy establishes project beacon, the taskforce is mandated to review the country's aviation facilities and put together a long range plan for the future of air traffic in the u.s. but there are more mid air problems on the horizon.
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when we come back, deadly accidents between large planes and small. >> all of a sudden, you know, we hear this big tremendous thud. [ male announcer ] this is kevin. to prove to you that aleve is the better choice for him, he's agreed to give it up. that's today? [ male announcer ] we'll be with him all day as he goes back to taking tylenol. i was okay, but after lunch my knee started to hurt again. and now i've got to take more pills. ♪ yup. another pill stop. can i get my aleve back yet? ♪ for my pain, i want my aleve. ♪ [ male announcer ] look for the easy-open red arthritis cap. i've been using crest pro-health for a week. my dentist said it was gonna help transform my mouth. [ male announcer ] go pro. for a clean that's up to four times better, try these crest pro-health products together. [ sara ] i've been using crest pro-health. so feels different. [ male announcer ] crest pro-health protects not just some, but all these areas dentists check most.
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i am melissa rehberger, here is what's happening. a mississippi man faces life in prison if convicted of charges of letters laced with ricin. the faa expects air traffic to be back to normal after congress pass legislation to allow them to withdraw furloughs forced from sequestration. and coming up at 9:00 p.m., the white house correspondents dinner. now back to "why planes crash." like building blocks, each
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mid air collision has helped make the skies safer, so much safer in fact that according to an m.i.t. study, technology has advanced to the point where we can expect only one mid air collision every 100 million flight hours. the last time two commercial jets collided over the u.s. was the 1960 accident above new york city. since then, there have been three more mid air collisions, all involving one large aircraft and one small. in 1967, her dad is pilot of a plane and collides killing 81 people. >> two pilots show up at the front door, ring the doorbell, inform me mother that my father's plane had crashed. and i told him that couldn't be true because he was the best
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pilot. >> the outgrowth of it was a very strong commitment by piedmont airlines to get that traffic collision avoidance system. they were one of the first if not the first to fly with an active system on board. >> six years later, betty barrett is on a charter jet when it collides with a d.c.-9 over france. all 68 perish. everyone on betty's plane survives. >> my father was sitting in the aisle seat, i was sitting on the right-hand side, and i turned around and he's very british, very stoic, i said daddy, do you think we're going to make it, he said i rather doubt it, darling, and pointed to the other wing. somebody sent me this picture when we landed, as you can see the tires are blown out, this is the broken wing, you can see all of this.
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i was told that afterwards if we had lost one more meter of our wing, in other words, it ends here, then we would have blown up as well. i keep this always in my room to remind me that if you survived this, you can survive anything. >> then in 1978, and 1986, there are two more mid air collisions in the u.s. building on the accidents that preceded them, they force major change in the aviation industry. there are eery similarities. both occur in broad daylight on picture perfect days in southern california. the first on september 25th, 1978, is caught on camera. >> we heard a loud crash overhead, and looked up to see part of a small cessna airplane spinning to the ground.
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then suddenly we heard a thunderous crash that sounded like a bomb hitting. >> no one knows it yet, but 17 seconds earlier, a half mile above them, the private plane has collided with a boeing 727 pacific southwest airlines, psa, flight 182. >> did you see it over there? come on, get in the car, i see it, take this. >> at the moment of impact, nbc channel 39 reporter john britton and his cameraman steven howell are covering a press conference a few blocks away in the residential san diego neighborhood. >> john and i were on a standard news story. i'm shooting shots of gas station pumps. >> i was standing about here. steve the cameraman behind me, and the county supervisor was here. i was interviewing lucille, standing here, and all of a sudden we hear this big -- >> something started falling out
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of the sky. people started going oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh. and i just clicked the camera on right away, moved out to the left side. and i'm looking up, and there's something that looks like a comet coming down from the sky. >> the photographer for the county is standing here on this side, so when the collision happened, and hans looks this way, hans got off two shots of the psa 182 before it crashed. >> when i looked up, all i saw was the airliner with the engine on fire, it was starting to bank to the right. and a big chunk of the leading edge of the wing was torn off. so i knew that the plane had to crash, it couldn't possibly survive and everything happened very fast. i just got off one shot, sort of by instinct, and the second picture was almost a silhouette. >> cameraman steve howell and i rushed to the scene two blocks away. there were several homes
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involved and a raging fire. there was thick black smoke shooting 300 to 400 feet in the air. >> this is a wall of flames. i'm going it must have been a gas main or something, i mean, how could this be. >> this was the largest thing that ever happened to me in my news career to that point, and i knew it was big, i knew it was bad, but we didn't know it was a plane crash. >> when we come back, how an assumption leads to tragedy. >> they're required to tell air traffic control they no longer have the cessna in sight. that didn't happen. i should be arrested for crimes against potted plant kind. [ clang ] my house is where plants came to die. but, it turns out
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1978. an nbc news crew captures a small plane spiraling to the ground after it collided a half mile up with a larger 727. >> behind us we heard a tremendous explosion. we knew at that point it was more than just a single plane, and of course found out later it was an airliner. >> both pilots in the cessna are killed, along with all 135 aboard the jet, and seven people in the residential neighborhood below. police set up a makeshift morgue at a nearby high school and immediately the questions begin. who's at fault, what caused this tragic accident. how could it have been avoided? to understand what happened it's critical to know what transpired between air traffic control and the psa crew in the two minutes leading up to the collision. >> as the boeing 727 was approaching san diego, they were
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told about a small general aviation airplane. >> it cessna, the psa flight crusade yes, we see them. at that point they are responsible for maintaining separation. >> the crew initially saw the airplane, then lost sight of it. talked about it amongst three pilots in the airplane. ed, do you know where that cessna 172 is, i think it passed off the right side. >> they're required to tell air traffic control they no longer have the cessna in sight. that didn't happen. >> the cessna 172 actually deviated without clearance from its assigned heading. unfortunately it was in a position directly in front but below the 727 the crew couldn't see just looking out the window where the airplane was, because it was below their field of
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view. >> clear to land. >> 172 struck the leading edge of the right wing halfway across the span. that's the famous picture, you see smoke and fire trailing from the right wing of the boeing 727. >> as a result it pulled the nose further and further down and they couldn't stop it and they lost control. they didn't have control of the jet and it tragically went into the ground. >> in its final report, the ntsb faults the psa crew for failing to maintain visual separation from the cessna, and for failing to inform the controller when they no longer had the other aircraft in sight. contributing to the accident, says the report, air traffic
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control procedures, authorizing controllers to use visual separation when radar was available. the report notes that flight crews exercise a lower degree of vigilance in areas where they receive radar assistance, and it says controllers seem to similarly relax vigilance. this controller may have believed the flight crew had a better grasp on the situation than he did. >> it could be days before the cleanup is complete, and in the words of one policeman, it will be years before this neighborhood is ever the same. >> after the psa crash, the faa steps up efforts to improve separation of aircraft around the nation's busiest airports, and to modernize collision avoidance technology. but again, change simply doesn't happen fast enough. eight years later, 1986, another sunny day over southern california. another jet, another small aircraft, and another
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catastrophic mid air collision. >> it was a sunday. it was in august. and my brother and i were playing on the driveway, my father was sitting on the lawn, and we were on our bikes. i remember my brother just very casually said look, there's a plane on fire and it is coming down on our house. >> 6500 feet above sore eat owes california, a suburb east of los angeles, a piper strayed into aeromexico flight, a dc-9 with 64 on board. at the time, she's five years old. >> my father came and swooped us and brought us in the garage and our garage door was obviously
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open, and he said to us we're going to die. i remember it shook the ground and it just exploded. >> eight homes destroyed. five more severely damaged. 24 dead on the ground. and that number may go higher. >> i also remember seeing body parts and seats and people still in seats. it just smelled like death, like smoke and death. >> her house is spared, but many other homes in the neighborhood are not. when we come back, after the second mid air collision in eight years, a public outcry for change, amid heartbreaking loss. >> i mean, who thinks your family is going to die in a plane crash. car accidents, not a plane crash. [ beeping ] ♪ [ male announcer ] we don't just certify our pre-owned vehicles. we inspect, analyze and recondition each one,
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good morning.
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the news from california keeps getting worse. officials are searching through the ruins of the crash, found 15 more people dead on the ground. >> labor day weekend, 1986. more than a mile above a suburb of los angeles, a piper crashes into a dc-9, a middle aged couple and their adult daughter, in the crash over san diego, eight years earlier, the larger plane, psa flight 182 loses sight of a much smaller cessna and slams into it from behind. over cerritos, the piper pilot doesn't realize he strayed into controlled air space surrounding lax, los angeles international airport. >> when flying in uncontrolled air space, you don't necessarily have to talk to an air traffic
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controller, you don't necessarily have to have a transponder. but if you're going to operate anywhere in controlled air space, you have to have permission to operate in that air space. you can't just fly into it without permission. >> the dc-9 crew believed they were in protected air space, and they were. but unbeknownst to them, the piper strayed into their air space. >> the general aviation airplane struck the tail, taking off the vertical and horizontal stabilizers, literally the back of the airplane, it rendered it uncontrollable. the dc rolled and inverted, there's a famous picture of that plane as it is descending upside down before it crashes into a neighborhood. >> counting passengers and those on the ground, total number of people killed in the cerritos crash stands at 85, that could go higher as the search for victims continues today, tuesday, november 2nd, 1986.
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>> in some ways, the mid air collisions in cerritos and san diego are so similar, there's public outcry how little has been done in intervening years. >> after the first one, recommendations they made were never implemented. so now this is the second time this has happened. that's we tried to make a difference, but it is hard to fight government agencies, you know. >> denise's family is particularly hard hit by the cerritos tragedy. her father-in-law, uncle, two nephews, and a family friend are on flight 498, returning from a fishing trip in mexico. her husband is supposed to be with them, but misses the trip to attend a funeral. when the plane crashes, part of the family is already waiting at the airport to pick them up. instead, they head to the crash site. >> i mean, it was an inferno.
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we knew nobody was going to survive that. my husband may have had hope, are there any survivors, you know. but i knew immediately that this was not going to have a good ending. >> in the neighborhood struck by disaster, the search for the missing goes on. >> who thinks your family is going to die in a plane crash really, i mean, car accidents, not a plane crash. it's just like unheard of. how could that happen? and in our own neighborhood. that's what's really ironic, our own neighborhood. >> probable cause as stated in the final ntsb report, limitations of the air traffic control system to provide collision protection and the inadvertent and unauthorized entry of the private plane into los angeles terminal control area. with the knowledge gained from each mid air collision, change has been on the horizon for decades. but the aeromexico crash over
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cerritos brings it all home. by 1989, all aircraft operating up to 10,000 feet within 30 miles of terminal control areas must be equipped with transponders that convey altitude information. by 1993, all commercial carrier aircraft with ten seats or more operating within u.s. air space are equipped with traffic alert and collision avoidance systems. >> the culmination, beginning back with flight 122, going through the psa accident and finally through the cerritos accident were all building blocks to promote this technology which evolved into the modern system of tks which is a great predictive tool. >> the faa had to take the bull by the horn if you will and do something it try to prevent these accidents from occurring.
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we increased or enhanced radar coverage. we enhanced air traffic control communication with flight crews. they changed the air space. they actually created a system of controlled air space, trying to avoid or at least mitigate the risk that you were going to have these transient pilots flying through high density areas in close proximity to major airports. >> all the lessons learned have made flying so safe and mid air collisions so rare, according to an m.i.t. study, you'd have to fly continuously for 11,000 years in order to experience one. unfortunately many people had to lose their lives to arrive at what is surely the safest moment yet in aviation history.
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good evening, everybody. >> thanks for inviting me. >> it is wonderful to be here at the white house correspondents' dinner. >> i am absolutely delighted to be here. >> i didn't want to be here. >> not that old joke, not again. >> don't turn on me. >> what's up? >> you like me, you really like me! >> the white house correspondents' dinner, when a-list celebrities mix it up with washington's biggest names for what's affectionately become known as the nerd prom. >> for us hollywood people getting to, you know, hang out with the washington people i


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