Date & Time: Apr 12, 1973 at 1450 LT
Type of aircraft:
Lockheed P-3 Orion
Operator:
Registration:
157332
Flight Type:
Training
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Moffett - Moffett
MSN:
185-5547
YOM:
1970
Crew on board:
6
Crew fatalities:
5
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
0
Other fatalities:
0
Total fatalities:
5
Circumstances:
The aircraft was engaged in a local training flight with a crew of six on board. At a same time was approaching to Moffett AFB a NASA Convair CV-990-30A-5 registered N711NA that was returning to Moffett following a test flight over the Monterey Bay with eight scientists and a crew of three on board. Following an uneventful mission, the crew of the Convair started the approach and was cleared to land on runway 32R while seven miles out. After been cleared, the Orion's crew informed ATC he was joining the runway 32L approach path when the controller cleared the crew of the Convair to land at runway 32L. Shortly later, at an altitude of about 300 feet, the nose gear of the Convair struck the top of the Orion's tail. Both airplanes went out of control and crashed in flames on the Sunnyvale golf course located about 0,3 mile short of runway threshold. A crew member from the Orion was seriously injured while all 16 other occupants on both aircraft were killed.
Probable cause:
It was determined that the collision was the consequence of several errors on part of the approach controller. He firstly cleared the Convair's crew to land on runway 32R and the Orion's crew to land on runway 32L. But during the approach, after the Orion's crew confirmed he was joining the runway 32L approach path, the controller cleared the crew of the Convair to land on the same runway 32L. For reasons undetermined, the Convair's crew did not ask any question about this runway change. Also, none of the crew was able to sea and avoid each other.