VOLUME 7 INVESTIGATION
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) responsible 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
8020.11, Aircraft 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 abnormal 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
B. Responsibilities. The Flight Standards 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
135), the responsible Flight Standards office
for the area where 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 responsible for the area where 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 office responsible for the
investigation. However, ATQA is the system that Flight Standards 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 7-3E, 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 applicable 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 investigation.
• FAA Order
1270.1, Freedom of Information Act Program (FOIA).
• FAA Order
2150.3, FAA Compliance and Enforcement Program.
• FAA Order
JO 7110.65, Air Traffic Control.
• Volume 7, Investigation.
• Volume 14, Compliance and Enforcement.
• Volume 16, Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
• Advisory Circular (AC)
107-2, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS).
• Office standard operating procedures (SOP).
• FAA forms
• FAA Form 1360-33, Record of Visit, Conference, or Telephone Call.
• FAA Form 8020-15, Investigation of Near Midair Collision Report.
• FAA Form 8020-21, Preliminary Near Midair Collision Report.
• 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 responsible
Flight Standards office. The inspector will then conduct the investigation and complete FAA Form 8020-15 via ATQA within 90 calendar-days.
• A NMAC investigation may lead to a pilot deviation (PD) or incident investigation.
• 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. Flight Standards receives electronic FAA Form 8020-21 from the ATO QAG. If ATC data is not referenced on 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.
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 responsible Flight Standards office as to how best investigate the occurrence and collaborate on any necessary
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 search 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 sUAS have
the option of being registered under 14 CFR part
2. If the investigation process involves an sUAS 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 Office of Security and Hazardous Materials Safety (ASH) Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP)
to determine registration status and ownership. Email 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 responsible for the area where 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) 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.