Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) Flight 182, registration N533PS, was a Boeing 727-214 commercial airliner that collided over San Diego, California with a private Cessna 172 on September 25, 1978. The death toll of 144 makes it the deadliest aircraft disaster in California history to date, and it was the first Pacific Southwest Airlines accident involving fatalities. It was also the deadliest plane crash in the history of the United States until American Airlines Flight 191 went down eight months later.
The Boeing crashed into North Park, a San Diego neighbourhood, killing all 135 on board. The two men aboard the Cessna died, as did seven people on the ground, including two children. Nine others on the ground were injured and 22 homes were destroyed or damaged.
Gibbs Flite Center Cessna 172 aircraft had taken off from Montgomery Field at 08.16 PST and proceeded to Lindbergh Field were two practice ILS approaches to runway 9 were flown. At 09.00 the Cessna pilot was instructed to maintain VFR at or below 3500ft, heading 70deg. PSA Flight 182 (a scheduled passenger flight from Sacramento to San Diego via Los Angeles), cleared for a runway 27 approach, was advised by the approach controller that there was traffic in front of them. The PSA crew reported the traffic in sight immediately thereafter and the PSA flight was instructed to maintain visual separation and contact Lindbergh tower. Lindbergh tower again warned the PSA flight crew of "traffic, twelve o'clock, one mile, a Cessna". The crew had lost track of the Cessna and radioed back: "think he's passing off to our right". The flight crew still weren't sure of the actual position of the Cessna. At 09.01:28 a conflict alert warning began in the San Diego Approach Control facility, indicating a collision hazard between PSA182 and the Cessna. At 09.01:47 the approach controller warned the Cessna pilot of traffic in the vicinity. At the same moment both aircraft collided. Flight 182 was descending and overtaking the Cessna, which was climbing in a wings level attitude. The Cessna broke up immediately and exploded after colliding with the Boeing's right wing. The Boeing entered a shallow right descending turn and crashed into a residential area.
Download the full NTSB report
Transcript of the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR)
APP = San Diego Approach
CAM = Cockpit Area Mike
RDO = Radio transmission
1 = Captain
2 = First officer
3 = 2nd officer
4 = Casual PSA captain
08.59:30 APP PSA one eighty-two, traffic twelve o'clock, one mile northbound
08.59:35 RDO-1 We're looking
08.59:30 APP PSA one eighty-two, additional traffic's, ah, twelve o'clock, three miles just north of the field northwest bound, a Cessna one seventy-two climbing VFR out of one thousand four hundred.
08:59:50 RDO-2 Okay, we've got that other twelve.
08.59:57 APP Cessna seven seven one one golf, San Diego departure radar contact, maintain VFR conditions at or below three thousand five hundred, fly heading zero seven zero, vector final approach course.
09.00:16 APP PSA one eighty-two, traffic's at twelve o'clock, three miles out of one thousand seven hundred.
09.00:21 CAM-2 Got'em.
09.00:22 RDO-1 Traffic in sight.
09.00:23 APP Okay, sir, maintain visual separation, contact Lindbergh tower one three three point three, have a nice day now.
09.00:28 RDO-1 Okay
09.00:34 RDO-1 Lindbergh PSA one eighty-two downwind.
09.00:38 TWR PSA one eighty-two, Lindbergh tower, ah, traffic twelve o'clock one mile a Cessna
09.00:41 CAM-2 Flaps five
09.00:43 CAM-1 Is that the one we're looking at.
09.00:43 CAM-2 Yeah, but I don't see him now.
09.00:44 RDO-1 Okay, we had it there a minute ago.
09.00:47 TWR One eighty-two, roger.
09.00:50 RDO-1 I think he's pass(sed) off to our right.
09.00:51 TWR Yeah.
09.00:52 CAM-1 He was right over here a minute ago.
09.00:53 TWR How far are you going to take your downwind one eighty-two, company traffic is waiting for departure.
09.00:57 RDO-1 Ah probably about three to four miles.
09.00:59 TWR Okay.
09.01:07 TWR PSA one eighty-two, cleared to land.
09.01:08 RDO-1 One eighty-two's cleared to land.
09.01:11 CAM-2 Are we clear of that Cessna?
09.01:13 CAM-3 Suppose to be.
09.01:14 CAM-1 I guess.
09.01:20 CAM-4 I hope.
09.01:21 CAM-1 Oh yeah, before we turned downwind, I saw him about one o'clock, probably behind us now.
09.01:38 CAM-2 There's one underneath.
09.01:39 CAM-2 I was looking at that inbound there.
09.01:45 CAM-1 Whoop!
09.01:46 CAM-2 Aghhh!
09.01:47 CAM Sound of impact
09.01:49 CAM-1 Easy baby, easy baby.
09.01:51 CAM [sound of electrical system reactivation tone on cvr, system off less than one second]
09.01:51 CAM-1 What have we got here?
09.01:52 CAM-2 It's bad.
09.01:53 CAM-2 We're hit man, we are hit.
09.01:56 RDO-1 Tower, we're going down, this is PSA.
09.01:57 TWR Okay, we'll call the equipment for you.
09.01:58 CAM [sound of stall warning]
CAM This is it!
Mom I love you!
[end of recording]
Recording between Cessna N7711G and Miramar RATCF:
08.59:51 7711G (unintelligible) seven seven one one gulf (unintelligible) one thousand five hundred ah northwest bound
08.59:56 Miramar Cessna seven seven one one golf San Diego departure radar contact maintain VFR conditions at or below three thousand five hundred, fly heading zero seven zero, vector final approach course.
09.00:08 7711G zero seven zero on the heading and VFR below three thousand five hundred (unintelligible).
09.00:31 Miramar Cessna one one golf and traffic's at six o'clock two miles eastbound PSA jet inbound to Lindbergh out of three thousand two hundred has you in sight.
09.00:43 7711G one one gulf roger.
09.01:47 Miramar Cessna one one golf a traffic ah in your vicinity a PSA jet has you in sight he's descending for Lindbergh.
[end of recording]