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Date:Monday 20 February 1989
Type:Silhouette image of generic SW4 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Swearingen SA226-AT Merlin IV
Operator:Dirac Aviation
Registration: F-GERP
MSN: AT-012
First flight: 1973
Total airframe hrs:7136
Engines: 2 Garrett TPE331-3U-303G
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 2
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 0
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 2
Collision casualties:Fatalities: 4
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Aircraft fate: Repaired
Location:near Castera-Lou (   France)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Nice-Côte d'Azur Airport (NCE/LFMN), France
Destination airport:Lourdes-Tarbes Ossun Lourdes Airport (LDE/LFBT), France
Flightnumber: 31
Dirac Aviation Flight 31 departed Nice for a regular flight without passengers to Tarbes. As the Merlin IV approached Tarbes, the crew received descent instructions at 15:55 the flight was cleared to descent to 2600 ft by Pau Approach and three minutes later the flight contacted Tarbes Approach Control. At that the same time a SOCATA TB-10 was flying near Tarbes. The airplane was on a navigational training flight from Pau to Tarbes. The airplane had overflown
Tarbes and was cleared for a circuit in preparation for a runway 02 approach. They left the Aerodrome Traffic Zone (ATZ) at 16:00. A few minutes later they entered the ATZ again, but did not establish radio contact with the controller. At 16:04 both aircraft collided in midair. The TB-10 crashed and the Merlin crew were able to carry out a forced landing on one engine, with a destroyed windscreen and just one landing gear leg extended. The Merlin touched down near the runway and slid for 325 m before coming to rest.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSES (translated from French): "The in-flight collision of the two aircraft resulted from the entry of TB 10 F-GEVD into the ATZ of Tarbes without radio contact at the same time and altitude as the Merlin F-GERP, despite the traffic information provided to it. In addition, the visual surveillance that both crews were supposed to provide did not allow them to detect the other aircraft."

Mid air collision
Forced landing outside airport

» Rapport final relatif a la collision en vol entre le TB 10 immatrcule F-GEVD et le Merlin IV immatricule F-GERP survenue le 20 fevrier 1989 a Tarbes (65) / Bureau Enquêtes-Accidents


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This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Nice-Côte d'Azur Airport to Lourdes-Tarbes Ossun Lourdes Airport as the crow flies is 582 km (364 miles).

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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