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Mid-Air Collision at Brown Field, California

On August 16, 2015 shortly after 11:00 Pacific Daylight Time, a Cessna 172 and a Sabreliner business jet collided in midair just east of Brown Field in the Otay Mesa area of San Diego. The Cessna pilot, identified as Michael Copeland, 55, an executive with Qualcomm and a resident of San Diego was fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The Sabreliner, on a contract mission for the U.S. Navy, was leased to BAE Systems and four of its employees were killed in the crash; John Kovach, Carlos Palos and Jeff Percy, all residents of the Kern County town of Mojave, and one yet-unidentified individual. The Sabreliner was destroyed in the collision as well.

The Cessna was practicing touch-and-go landings at Brown Field and the Sabreliner was returning from its mission supporting the Navy, but it is still unclear which aircraft was attempting to land on which runway. Brown Field has two parallel runways, 8L/26R and 8R/26L and the landings were being made to the west (RWY 26) on the day of the accident. The two aircraft collided just east of the field and came down approximately one quarter mile apart.

The control tower was operational at the time of the accident but it has yet to be determined whether one or both aircraft were operating under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) or Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), and whether the air traffic control tower was giving instructions or safety alerts to either or both aircraft. If there were communications from the tower to either aircraft, those could help determine the cause of the collision and any potential culpability on the part of the controller.

The links below provide preliminary news coverage of this flight-related tragedy and we at Pilot Law, P.C. are actively investigating this unfortunate incident. We are keenly sympathetic to affected parties in tragedies such as this, having litigated dozens like it in courts throughout the country and abroad and being pilots ourselves. In cases such as this, affected parties may have legal recourse against various entities, including the air traffic control agency, aircraft and/or component manufacturers and the owner/operator of the aircraft. We at Pilot Law, P.C. bring years’ of experience and expertise to bear and will diligently and relentlessly pursue the truth on behalf of the victims and their families.

5 dead after executive jet and single-engine Cessna collide near San Diego’s Brown Field, Los Angeles Times, 8/16/2015

Cessna Pilot in Fatal Mid-Air Collision ID’d as Michael Copeland, Times of San Diego, 8/18/2015

Qualcomm exec among those killed in midair plane collision, Seattle Times, 8/18/2015