August 31st 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the Cerritos Air Disaster.
This horrific mid-air collision took place on August 31st 1986 at 11:52 am on a clear, warm day in visual meteorological conditions. A Piper PA-28-181 Archer with three people on board strayed into the LAX Terminal Control Area and collided with Aeromexico Flight 498, a DC-9-32, striking the airliner at the top of its tailfin. The DC-9's horizontal stabilizer ripped through the Piper's cabin, killing all three occupants, before separating from the aircraft. This resulted in an irrecoverable nose-down pitch and doomed the DC-9; it entered an inverted dive and crashed into the residential area of Cerritos, a suburb of Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the Piper, with still a semblance of lift, fluttered down onto the empty playground of the Cerritos Elementary School. 64 people died on Aeromexico Flight 498 and another 15 were killed on the ground.
The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the Piper had entered the Los Angeles Terminal Control Area without the required clearance. The Piper was not (and was not then required to be) equipped with a Mode C transponder, which would have indicated its altitude, and LAX had not been equipped with automatic warning systems. Apparently, neither pilot attempted any evasive maneuvers because neither sighted the other aircraft, even though they were in visual range. Furthermore, the air traffic controller was distracted by another private plane — a Grumman AA-5 Tiger — which had also entered the TCA without clearance. This accident was instrumental in spurring the FAA and the avionics industry into developing and implementing TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System), which is fitted as standard equipment on commercial flights today.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1986_Cerr ... _collision
In memory of all those who lost their lives in this catastrophic event, 30 years ago. May their souls rest in peace, and may such a tragic and senseless accident never happen again.