Report Leaves Reason For Accident Undetermined
"Do you have the traffic that's passing underneath you
According to transcripts released by the FAA last week, this
fateful question from the Renton, WA Municipal Airport tower to the
pilot of a de Havilland DHC-2 was the precursor to an August 4
midair collision involving the floatplane and a Cessna 150.
The Cessna collided with the Beaver fifteen seconds later,
resulting in the deaths of the Cessna's pilot and his
"We gonna declare an emergency," the de Havilland pilot, Fred
Bahr, said seconds after the Cessna struck the floatplane from
As was reported in Aero-News,
student pilot Chun Kit "Jack" Ho, a Boeing engineer, and his
coworker and flight instructor Kevin Germario Dukes were killed
when the 150 fell onto a vacant elementary school.
After a flyover showed
the Beaver's floats to be askew from the collision, Bahr was able
to make an emergency landing on a grass median bordering Runway 33
at the airport, according to the NTSB Preliminary Report on the
Records show at least three aircraft were approaching the
airport under visual separation rules at the time the midair
collision occurred. The Cessna was approaching the field from the
NE, while the de Havilland and another floatplane were coming from
According to the transcript, the Cessna's pilot reported having
a floatplane in sight, although it's difficult to determine from
the transcript if that plane was the de Havilland or the second
floatplane approaching the field. A seaplane base is located at the
NE corner of the airport.
While the tower's role in the accident is still under question,
under VFR conditions ATC is required only to space the aircraft
adequately for landing.
Debra Eckrote, senior air safety investigator for the NTSB, told
the King County Journal newspaper the majority of the investigation
(Editor's Note: The following is the last
three minutes of communication between the Renton Airport Tower,
and the pilots of the de Havilland Beaver floatplane and the Cessna
150M before the midair collision. The numbers are markers on the
- 43:37, Tower: de Havilland seven four one Delta Bravo roger,
enter downwind via the 45, uh, you'll be following the Cessna
that's ahead and to your right.
- 43:46, de Havilland: OK, uh, we'll, uh, be landing on the
- 43:49, Tower: Roger that. He's landing on the hard surface.
You'll be doing a low approach over the water. Understand?
- 44:24, Tower: Beaver correction, floatplane one Delta Bravo
confirm you have the Cessna in sight.
- 44:29, de Havilland: Ah, we've got an aircraft downwind ahead
of us in sight.
- 44:32, Tower: Roger, you're following that aircraft?
- 44:34, de Havilland: Delta Bravo.
- 45:09, Tower: Cessna two three four proceed direct to the
- 45:13, Cessna: Downwind two three four.
- 45:14, Tower: And you have traffic off your right wing, has you
in sight 1,600 floatplane.
- 45:24, Cessna: Traffic in sight, two three four. (This is the
last transmission from the Cessna.)
- 45:46, Tower: One Delta Bravo, confirm you're landing on the
- 45:49, de Havilland: Affirmative, we have the aircraft on
- 45:53, Tower: Do you have the traffic that's passing underneath
- 45:56, de Havilland: Ah, yah, base to final landing on the
- 46:06, de Havilland: Mayday! mayday! Uh, Delta Bravo just had a
- 46:13, de Havilland: You copy?
- 46:31, de Havilland: Delta Bravo is on downwind. Uh, we did
have an impact. We're gonna declare an emergency.