The phrase “mid-air crash” may be familiar to many, but can two airplanes really collide while they are in the air? The answer is unfortunately yes. Although not a common occurrence, it is possible for two airplanes to collide while they are both airborne.

mid-air collision

The majority of mid-air collisions take place because of poor visibility and inadequate communication between the pilots. When two aircraft are flying close to each other, they may be hard to spot and if the pilots do not communicate effectively, a collision may occur. The pilots bear the responsibility of ensuring they are aware of their surroundings and for communicating with each other to prevent potential collisions.

Apart from pilot error, mid-air collisions may also be caused by mechanical or structural failure. If an airplane malfunctions, it can become challenging to control or fly erratically, leading to an accident. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandates regular inspections of all aircraft to guarantee their safety and proper functioning.

While mid-air collisions are rare, they do happen. Fortunately, there are preventive measures in place such as communication between pilots, regular inspections, and advanced technology to detect potential collisions.

How Often Do Mid-Air Collisions Happen?

Despite the prevalence of this myth, mid-air collisions do happen quite infrequently. Since improvements in safety measures have been made over the years, the frequency of such incidents has decreased. In the U.S., the last recorded mid-air collision took place in 1986 when two planes collided over Cerritos, California

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The cause of the majority of mid-air collisions is either human error or mechanical malfunction. However, the most common reason for these crashes is air traffic control mistakes. The Air Traffic Control system has undergone massive upgrades in order to provide necessary safeguards for air travelers and reduce the likelihood of crashes. One step in these upgrades was the proliferation of automated systems that can detect potential collisions and alert pilots.

mid-air collision

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the impact of these automated systems has been profound, significantly reducing the number of mid-air collisions. The number of collisions that have taken place in U.S. airspace since 1986 has been recorded as 10, but prior to this, this figure was not accessible to the public and there are no records available for before 1986. In fact, the rate of such incidents has dropped from 0.08 per 100,000 flight hours in the 1950s to 0.02 today due to advancements in technology and safety procedures.

Mid-air collisions are incredibly rare, with the probability of being involved in one being very low for the average person. With the introduction of advanced safety measures and automated systems, flying is much safer than ever before.

Air Traffic Control system

How often do planes collide in the air?

Airplane collisions are actually very rare events and, thankfully, there have been no commercial airplane collisions in the last 35 years. The most recent major mid-air collision that was known to have taken place involving commercial airliners occurred in 1986 over Germany, resulting in 346 fatalities.

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Military and private planes are known for their safety and are used to transport many people around the globe. However, these planes often cause fatal mid-air collisions, which can be prevented if proper aviation procedures are followed.

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast is a technology that has become more prominent in recent years and allows air traffic controllers to better monitor aircraft in real-time. This minimizes the chance of collisions and provides a more efficient and safer service for the traveling public. In the last 20 years, there have been 67 mid-air collisions in the U.S., with the majority of these collisions involving private planes.

Mid-air collisions remain rare, but they still pose a risk to air travel. To reduce the chance of such incidents, it’s crucial to follow aviation procedures and train pilots thoroughly in all areas of operation, especially if flying in busy airspace.

Airport control tower jet

More Information: National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

How do planes not hit each other in the air?

You might not realize this, but planes have some pretty advanced technologies paired with systems to keep them apart. They’re equipped with sophisticated navigation systems that help pilots avoid each other, and whole fleets of satellites that keep them in contact with one another at all times. The system is so advanced that you can’t even see it!

Air Traffic Control is responsible for ensuring that all aircrafts take off and land safely, to maintain safe distances from each other, and for ensuring the smooth flow of traffic through the sky. Air traffic control is also the primary way that planes avoid collisions. ATC controllers continuously monitor the location, altitude, and speed of all aircraft in the airspace, and can redirect them if necessary.

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Modern aircrafts have increased safety measures utilizing radar systems to detect nearby objects. This has led to an increase in the number of accidents as a result of mistaken identity. To ensure further safety, it is important for pilots to always be aware and alert for other aircrafts.

mid-air crash

In addition, modern aircrafts are also equipped with transponders that send signals with the aircraft’s location, altitude, and speed, which are detected by other aircraft and air traffic controllers. This data provides other aircrafts and ATC with a heads up about the potential for this aircrafts presence.

Pilots are known to undergo a rigorous training regime in order to detect, identify, and avoid other aircraft in the skies. They are trained to maintain alertness and take evasive maneuvers if needed.

Air traffic controllers, modern aircraft technologies, and trained pilots have combined to make air travel much safer than we think. With a high level of efficiency in place, the skies are much safer than they were before.

Commercial Boeing controls

In conclusion, air traffic control, modern aircraft technologies, and trained pilots work together to maintain a safe and collision-free airspace. The next time you’re flying, you no longer need to worry about being caught in the middle of a dangerous situation that is beyond your control. With the advancement of technology and the creation of AI-powered automation, it is now much safer than ever to take a flight.

James Blake

By James Blake

Does it fly? Then I am interested!

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