VOLUME 7 INVESTIGATIONS
CHAPTER 4 INVESTIGATE A NEAR MIDAIR COLLISION
Section 1 General
7-106 PROGRAM TRACKING AND REPORTING SUBSYSTEM (PTRS) ACTIVITY CODE. 1720.
7-107 OBJECTIVE. The Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) with jurisdiction
for the airspace of the occurrence will complete a near midair collision (NMAC)
investigation upon receipt of an air traffic control (ATC) facility, pilot report,
or other notification of a NMAC. If the NMAC involved a certificated air carrier,
then the FSDO will coordinate with the overseeing certificate management office
(CMO) or International Field Office (IFO). Successful completion of the investigation
will result in an analysis and assessment of the event and determination of action to take in order to address any safety issues.
A. Definitions. Refer to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Order
Accident and Incident Notification, Investigation, and Reporting.
1) Near Midair Collision (NMAC). An incident associated with
the operation of an aircraft in which a possibility of a collision occurs as
a result of proximity of less than 500 feet to another aircraft and/or where
a report is received from a pilot or other flightcrew member stating that a collision hazard existed between two or more aircraft.
2) Incident. An occurrence, other than an accident, associated with the
operation of an aircraft, that affects (or could affect) the safety of operations.
3) Occurrence. An event, other than an accident or incident,
that may require investigation by the Flight Standards Service if there was
an impact on safety. Includes the following when no injury, damage, or Title
49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR) part 830, § 830.5 reporting requirements are involved:
• Aborted takeoffs not involving a runway excursion;
• Air turnbacks in which the aircraft returns to the
departure airport and lands without incident; and
• Air diversions in which the aircraft diverts to a different
destination for reasons other than weather conditions.
B. Responsibilities. The Flight Standards Service office responsible for the NMAC investigation and report shall be:
1) For a certificated air operator (Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part
Flight Standards Service office in whose jurisdiction the incident occurred will investigate the event and coordinate with the CMO, IFO, or FSDO
that issued the operations specifications (OpSpecs) or management specifications (MSpecs) for the 14 CFR part
91 subpart K (part
2) For NMACs involving non-air-carrier aircraft, the FSDO in
whose area the incident occurred will conduct the investigation.
1) The Air Traffic Organization (ATO) Quality Assurance Group
(QAG) will forward notification of occurrences via the Air Traffic Quality Assurance
(ATQA) database, the Comprehensive Electronic Data Analysis and Reporting (CEDAR)
database, email notices, or other means to the respective Flight Standards Service
office of jurisdiction for the investigation. However, ATQA is the system that
Flight Standards Service personnel will utilize to enter and close out electronic
forms used during the investigation of NMACs and other occurrences for which forms exist in ATQA. For additional information on accessing ATQA, see
Volume 7, Chapter 1, Section 1, subparagraph
7-3D, Notification of Occurrences.
2) The inspector should document all factors involved in the
incident on FAA Form 8020-15, Investigation of Near Midair Collision Report.
After consideration of the facts of the case, the inspector must rate the incident’s
risk of collision as “A,” critical; “B,” potential; “C,” low potential; “D,”
no potential; or “E,” unknown potential. See paragraph 7-110 for the risk assessment process.
7-109 REFERENCES, FORMS, AND JOB AIDS.
A. References (current editions):
• Any affected 14 CFR part.
• Title 49 CFR Part 830 (National Transportation Safety
Board (NTSB) reporting).
• Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM).
• National and office policies specific to accident/incident
• FAA Order
of Information Act Program (FOIA).
• FAA Order
Compliance and Enforcement Program.
• FAA Order
JO 7110.65, Air
• Volume 7, Investigation.
• Volume 14, Compliance and Enforcement.
• Volume 16, Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
• Advisory Circular (AC)
Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS).
• Office standard operating procedures (SOP).
• FAA forms
• FAA Form 1360-33, Record of Visit, Conference, or Telephone
• FAA Form 8020-15, Investigation of Near Midair Collision
• FAA Form 8020-21, Preliminary Near Midair Collision
• FAA Form 8020-23, FAA Accident/Incident Report.
C. Job Aids:
• Office SOP.
• Sample letters and figures.
• Special emphasis forms as required by General Notices (GENOT)
or National Policy.
7-110 THE GENERAL NMAC PROCESS. ATC is to complete all preliminary reports
of all NMACs on FAA Form 8020-21, and will forward NMAC reports to the appropriate
Flight Standards Service office. The inspector will then conduct the investigation
and complete FAA Form 8020-15, via ATQA, or an approved equivalent, within 90 days.
• A NMAC investigation may lead to a pilot deviation (PD) or
• If a NMAC reported by a pilot is withdrawn, the aviation
safety inspector (ASI) will close out the event.
• If the NMAC cannot be substantiated because of the
inability to contact the reporting pilot, the ASI will use FAA Form 8020-15 and provide a
narrative statement (e.g., “due to the lack of evidence/statement(s) from the
pilot(s) involved, unable to complete the investigation”) in the response form.
• If the NMAC reported on FAA Form 8020-21 is substantiated, then
the ASI will proceed as follows:
A. Initial Notification. The Flight Standards Service receives
electronic FAA Form 8020-21 from the ATO QAG. If ATC data is not referenced
on the FAA Form 8020-21, contact the reporting service center ATO QAG and request respective data.
1) When the ASI receives notification of a possible NMAC from
a Regional Operations Center (ROC) report, the ASI will contact the ROC to identify
the reporting facility in order to determine if they filed FAA Form 8020-21.
2) If the report is received directly from a pilot, the ASI will
complete FAA Form 8020-21 to obtain as much information as possible from the
reporting pilot and request additional information/data from the ATO QAG for reports from FAA ATC facilities.
3) For all events, the ASI will review/complete FAA Form 8020-21
in ATQA, or an approved equivalent, and continue the investigation (and contact
ATC for additional information, as needed) to complete FAA Form 8020-15. See Figure 7-13, Near Midair Collision Process Chart.
B. FAA Forms. FAA Form 8020-21 may be initiated by an ASI. It
may also be initiated by an ATC facility after contact by a pilot or crewmember,
or by a report received from the military. If ATC data is available, it will
be uploaded to the ATC Knowledge Services Network (KSN) site identified on FAA
Form 8020-21, and will be used by the ASI to assess the NMAC. The investigating
Operations ASI completes FAA Form 8020-15 in ATQA, and as necessary, FAA Form 8020-23.
C. Witness Statements and Information. When taking witness statements over
the telephone, use FAA Form 1360-33 or other office records. Investigating ASIs may need to contact other FAA offices for additional information.
D. NMAC Risk Assessment Guidance.
1) Evasive or Corrective Action. When evasive or corrective action
is taken to avoid a collision, the magnitude of the maneuver is an important
consideration in classifying the severity of the event. This includes bank angle,
climb, descent, or instances where no evasive action was taken due to the suddenness of the event.
2) Available Reaction Time. Encounters that allow little time
to react to avoid a collision should be judged as more severe than encounters
in which there is ample time available to respond. For example, encounters at
high altitudes at high closure rates, or flight in conditions of limited visibility,
provide a proportionately smaller window of time to recognize the threat and
take effective action to avoid the encounter. Encounters in which a Traffic
Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) provides a Resolution Advisory (RA)
may be no less severe than an encounter in which the airman has a Traffic Information
Services (TIS) alerting system. However, it should be kept in mind that in situations
where a TCAS RA is generated, the possibility of a collision was likely a greater threat, thus the reason for the RA.
3) Ability to Avoid an Encounter. Consideration should be given
regarding whether the airman had advance warning of a traffic threat from cockpit
electronic aids and/or ATC; whether or not the encounter took place within controlled
airspace; and whether ATC advisory services were provided per pilot request
or were required to be provided (Class A, B, or C airspace). Visibility conditions,
if available, should also be considered during the inspector’s assessment.
4) Factors that Affect System Performance. These are factors
that affect system performance, such as communication failures (open “mic”),
misread clearances (controller failure to correct an error in the pilot’s read
back of a clearance), controller failure to issue pertinent traffic information,
pilot inattention, or lack of effective scan while in Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC).
E. NMAC Categories of the Risk Assessment.
1) “A” – Critical. A
situation in which collision avoidance was due to chance, rather than a pilot’s
evasive act or action. Situations where large evasive maneuvers are necessary to avoid collision and/or situations where little or
no time is available to recognize the threat and react appropriately. Encounters of less than 100 feet separation are considered to be critical risk.
2) “B” – Potential. A situation which would probably have resulted
in a collision if no action had been taken by the pilot; a situation in which
a TCAS RA was received and followed; or where a TIS alert or the pilot sighting
the traffic without electronic aid caused pilot evasive action. A “potential”
risk is a situation in which a collision would probably occur eventually if
no action is taken by either pilot. Situations of encounters of less than 500 feet separation may be considered potential risk.
3) “C” – Low Potential. A situation in which a collision is unlikely, however,
one or both pilots was surprised by the proximity of the other; one in which
the course of the aircraft bring them closer than required standard separation;
a situation where whether or not the pilot took evasive action a collision probably
would not occur; or a situation in which there is ample time to take action
to avoid a collision. A TIS alert or TCAS traffic advisory (TA) may cause the
pilot to take action after sighting the traffic either with or without the aid
of an electronic alert system; situations of encounters of 500 feet or greater;
slowly converging flightpaths may be considered low potential collision risks.
4) “D” – No Potential. A situation in which direction and altitude
would have made a collision improbable regardless of pilot action; a situation
in which the aircraft are on parallel or diverging courses; or situations where
the pilot is surprised by the proximity of another aircraft but the risk of
collision is improbable. Situations of encounters greater than 500 feet may constitute no potential risk of collision.
5) “E” – Unknown Potential. A situation in which no data is available
to support identification of a potential risk.
Note: As explained further in subparagraph 7-113C5)b), the risk assessment
category is for the classification of the NMAC, and does not determine the action
taken by the FAA to address any apparent deviations found during the investigation.
7-111 INITIATE AN INCIDENT INVESTIGATION FROM THE NMAC INVESTIGATION.
If at any time during the investigation facts are revealed that would indicate
that the NMAC is also an accident, the ASI shall notify the appropriate ATC
facility and request any additional information they may have (e.g., radar or audio),
initiate FAA Form 8020-23, review the event with reference to the FAA’s
nine responsibilities, and update the documentation in ATQA. (See Volume 7, Chapter 1.)
7-112 PREREQUISITES AND COORDINATION REQUIREMENTS.
A. Prerequisites. This task requires knowledge of any related 14 CFR parts
and FAA policies, and is conducted by an Operations ASI.
B. Coordination. This task requires the use of ATQA to manage
the required FAA reporting documents, coordination with operations and airworthiness
unit supervisors, and the appropriate ATC facility. This task may also require
coordination with the appropriate NTSB field office, Regional Office of Public
Affairs, Regional Counsel, operator’s representative, or the military liaison at the air traffic facility.
C. Consideration for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Both
the ASI and aviation safety technicians (AST) may conduct investigations and
take appropriate action for a NMAC in which the primary focus is the operation
of a small UAS. Office management is expected to assign these tasks with consideration
of the risk involved in the event, as well as the training and background of
the AST. As such, an AST may be authorized to perform all ASI duties related to small UAS as described in this section.
7-113 NMAC INVESTIGATION PROCEDURES.
A. Air Traffic Notification. If notification is made by an ATC
facility via FAA Form 8020-21, verify that the ATC facility has posted the ATC
data to the ATC KSN site. If ATC has initiated FAA Form 8020-21, the ASI is
not to open a separate FAA Form 8020-21. This will ensure that any ATC data relative to the event can be posted to the KSN site by the ATC.
B. Other Notification. If notification is made by a source other
than an ATC facility (e.g., a pilot/crewmember or the military), contact the
ATC facility closest to the NMAC event to determine if ATC has filed FAA Form 8020-21 and, as needed, notify:
• The ATC QAG, to request any data that ATC may have
regarding this event;
• The ATC facility that has control of the airspace of
the occurrence, so it can initiate the appropriate notification procedures;
• The office manager or the appropriate office
representative, in accordance with office policies, that a NMAC has occurred;
• The ROC; and
• The NTSB, if required by 49 CFR part 830.
C. For All Notifications. The office that receives the notification,
due to its proximity to the occurrence, will investigate the occurrence. However,
if the occurrence involves a certificated operator, the office notified will
coordinate with the certificate-holding district office (CHDO) as to how best
investigate the occurrence and collaborate on any necessary corrective action.
1) Open the PTRS Record. The investigating office and any other
FAA office participating or assisting will indicate in their PTRS any coordination/participation with other FAA offices.
2) Review Air Traffic Data. Review the air traffic data provided
on the ATC KSN site and request additional data as deemed necessary from the reporting ATC facility, including, but not limited to:
• Flight progress strips;
• ATC audio;
• Radar plot; and
• Weather information.
3) Determine the Involved Parties. Using the identified N-numbers, use the
Safety Performance Analysis System (SPAS) (under Aircraft, Aircraft Registration Profile) or contact the Aircraft Registry
a) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Events. To determine ownership regarding UAS NMAC reports:
1. The investigating office may find registration information via a search of the
Aircraft Registry. UAS are normally registered, and small UAS have the option of being registered under 14 CFR part
2. If the investigation process involves a small UAS and the aircraft
cannot be found in the aircraft registry, it may have been registered in accordance with 14 CFR part
investigating office is to contact the Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP), at
3. Additional resource information is available at UAS Resources
(http://www.faa.gov/uas/resources/) and UAS Frequently Asked Questions
b) Aircraft N-Numbers. Determine the N-number of each aircraft involved
using the information provided by the reporting ATO facility and witness, flightcrew member, and passenger statements.
c) Pilot Identification (Privately Owned Aircraft). If a privately owned aircraft,
contact the owner for identification of the pilot at the time of the NMAC.
d) Flightcrew Member Identification (Commercial Aircraft). If a commercial aircraft,
contact the chief pilot or director of flight operations for the names of the
flightcrew members. Consideration shall be given to company operation procedures.
4) Contact the Involved Parties and Witnesses. Contact each of
the owners and/or pilots for a statement regarding the NMAC. Record all pertinent
information concerning the witness, including the witness’ name, address, and
a telephone number for future contact. Document the date and time of the occurrence and request a written statement.
a) Obtain crewmember statements.
b) Obtain passenger statements.
c) Obtain any witness statements.
d) Obtain other information.
e) Obtain supporting data (e.g., aircraft, pilot, and weather).
f) If ATC personnel or facilities are involved, request comments.
g) If a regulatory or other deviation is suspected, follow the procedures
in Volume 14 to determine compliance and the corrective action(s) to be taken.
Volume 14, Chapter 1, Section 3 to
determine the applicability of providing written notification of an investigation under the Pilot’s Bill of Rights (PBR).
5) Determine the Risk Assessment Category of NMAC.
a) Determine the risk assessment category of the NMAC using paragraph 7-110
and the information provided by the pilots, any witnesses, and the documentation
from the reporting ATC facility. If the risk category is not listed in block
24 of FAA Form 8020-15, enter the risk category into block 23 and then complete FAA Form 8020-15.
b) The risk assessment category is for the classification of the NMAC and
does not determine the action taken by the FAA to address any apparent deviations
found during the investigation. As explained in Volume 14, Chapter 1, the outcome
of an event is not what determines whether or not the behavior is acceptable
or unacceptable. The greatest systemic safety risk is not from a specific operational
event or its outcome, but rather from an airman or organization’s unwillingness
or inability to comply with safety standards and, most importantly, operating contrary to the core principles of Safety Risk Management (SRM).
6) Complete FAA Form 8020-15.
a) Complete FAA Form 8020-15 to close out the investigation by filling in the appropriate
blocks and attaching copies of all supporting documentation electronically using
ATQA. Block 23 of FAA Form 8020-15 should state the ASI’s recommendations and
the action(s) taken to mitigate any reoccurrence of such an event by the parties
involved (e.g., noting that the FAA is taking Compliance Action (CA) or initiating
an enforcement action). The ASI bases the recommended action on his or her investigating, analysis, and assessment of the event.
b) State whether the incident occurred in an area of radar coverage and
whether a transponder was installed. If the transponder was operating, give the mode and code that was being used.
c) In block 23, state the assessed NMAC risk category and provide the basis for
the inspector’s NMAC risk category. For an example, see subparagraph 7-110D
for detailed information. Also, in block 24 do not mark “A,” “B,” or “C,” as
these options do not reflect all of the current categories of NMACs. Therefore,
only mark the box “Mark box” and explain in block 23. Block 23 is being used to capture all incident risk evaluation.
d) Sign and date the completed form electronically within ATQA. Once FAA
Form 8020-15 is entered into the ATQA system, it will be available for viewing by interested organizations.
7) Specific Procedures for When an Altimeter Error is Suspected.
a) A detailed report must be made on all factors that may have had a bearing
on the occurrence (e.g., altimeter type, indicated altitude, airspeed, free
air temperature, correction factor, and logbook review of altimetry complaints).
Consideration must be given to company operating procedures. Necessary action
must be taken to have the altimeters, transponders, and static systems checked.
The inspector must also request flight recorder tapes for analysis. Enter the information required in FAA Form 8020-15.
b) The investigation must be coordinated with the ATC facilities that were
involved. Their findings and recommendations must be considered in the investigation.
8) Specific Procedures for the Investigation of NMACs Involving Military
Aircraft. NMACs involving military aircraft shall be investigated by the FSDO in whose area it occurred, when:
• Obvious public safety is involved; or
• The incident indicates possible violation of 14 CFR.
a) The investigation and reporting of incidents shall follow the same guidelines as for civil incident investigations.
b) If information is required from the military, follow the procedures in Volume 7, Chapter 1.
9) PTRS. Close the PTRS record.
7-114 TASK OUTCOMES. The completion of this task will result in a completed
FAA Form 8020-15 and FAA Form 8020-23, as needed.
7-115 FUTURE ACTIVITIES.
• Possible action taken by the FAA to address noncompliance
with the regulations or other standards (including review of corrective actions taken by an airman).
• Testify at hearing.
• Disposal of investigative records.
Figure 7-13. Near Midair Collision Process Chart
Figure 7-14. FAA Form 8020-21, Preliminary Near Midair Collision Report
Figure 7-14. FAA Form 8020-21, Preliminary Near Midair Collision Report (Continued)
Figure 7-14. FAA Form 8020-21, Preliminary Near Midair Collision Report (Continued)
Figure 7-15. FAA Form 8020-15, Investigation of Near Midair Collision Report
Figure 7-15. FAA Form 8020-15, Investigation of Near Midair Collision Report (Continued)
Figure 7-15. FAA Form 8020-15, Investigation of Near Midair Collision Report (Continued)
RESERVED. Paragraphs 7-116 through 7-130.