Aviation investigation A12H0001

In-flight collision in Virginia, USA

The occurrence

On May 28, 2012, at approximately 1621, a Piper PA-28 and a Beechcraft BE-35 collided in flight just over 6 miles from Warrenton-Fauquier Airport in Sumerduck, VA. After the collision, the Piper PA-28 crash landed in a field and the BE-35 crashed vertically in a lightly wooded area. The sole occupant of the Piper PA-28 survived, but the two occupants of the BE-35 were fatally injured.

One of the aircraft involved, the Piper PA-28, was registered to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employee, whereas the Beechcraft BE-35 was registered to a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) employee. Upon learning this information, the NTSB, in consultation with the FAA, delegated the investigation to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB), in accordance with Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation.

The investigation

The TSB has deployed a team of investigators to the site. Led by the Investigator-in-Charge, Jon Lee, the team is currently collecting information as part of the field phase of its investigation.

So far, the investigators have been able to locate the four extremities of both aircraft. The Beechcraft BE-35 was found in two pieces, which were lying 1000 yards apart, and showed evidence of a post-impact fire. All the pieces of the Piper PA-28 were found on the site. The two aircraft were over one mile apart.

The pilot of the Piper who survived the crash has been contacted. As well, radar and air traffic control data have been secured and will be analyzed at a later date.

Map of the area of the accident


Click on the images to see them in full size.

Link to the TSB Flickr page

Download high resolution copies of these pictures from the TSB Flickr page.

Transportation Safety Board investigation process

There are 3 phases to a TSB investigation:

  1. Field phase: a team of investigators examines the occurrence site and wreckage, interviews witnesses and collects pertinent information.
  2. Examination and analysis phase: the TSB reviews pertinent records, tests components of the wreckage in the lab, determines the sequence of events and identifies safety deficiencies. When safety deficiencies are suspected or confirmed, the TSB advises the appropriate authority without waiting until publication of the final report.
  3. Report phase: a confidential draft report is approved by the Board and sent to persons and corporations who are directly concerned by the report. They then have the opportunity to dispute or correct information they believe to be incorrect. The Board considers all representations before approving the final report, which is subsequently released to the public.

For more information, see our Investigation process page.


29 May 2012—Transportation Safety Board of Canada deploying investigators to a mid-air collision in Virginia, USA

Read the deployment notice

30 May 2012—Investigation next steps: Mid-air collision in Virginia, USA

Read the media advisory

NTSB release

29 May 2012NTSB delegates investigation of Virginia accident to Transportation Safety Board of Canada

Read the press release (External link)



22 August 2012—Midair Collision between Beechcraft V35B Bonanza and Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee near Warrenton, Virginia (A12H0001)

Read the investigation update