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Aeroméxico Flight 498: Wikis


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AeroMéxico Flight 498

AeroMéxico 498 falling to the ground immediately after the collision. Notice the missing horizontal stabilizer.
Accident summary
Date August 31, 1986
Type Mid-air collision resulting from pilot error (Piper) and ATC error
Site Cerritos, California
Total injuries 8 (ground)
Total fatalities 82 (including 15 ground)
Total survivors 0
First aircraft
Type Douglas DC-9-32
Name Hermosillo
Operator Aeroméxico
Tail number XA-JED
Flight origin Mexico City Int'l Airport
1st stopover Don Miguel Hidalgo y
Costilla Int'l Airport

Guadalajara, Jalisco
2nd stopover Loreto Airport
Baja California Sur
Last stopover General Abelardo L.
Rodríguez Int'l Airport

Tijuana, Baja California
Destination Los Angeles Int'l Airport
California, USA
Passengers 58
Crew 6
Survivors 0
Second aircraft
Type Piper PA-28-181 Archer (Cherokee)
Operator Private
Tail number N4891F
Flight origin Zamperini Field
Torrance, California
Destination Big Bear City Airport
Big Bear Lake, California
Passengers 2
Crew 1
Survivors 0

Aeroméxico Flight 498, registration XA-JED, was a Douglas DC-9-32 en route from Mexico City, Mexico to Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, California, United States (with stops in Guadalajara, Loreto, and Tijuana[1]) on August 31, 1986. N4891F was a privately-operated Piper PA-28-181 Archer owned by the Kramer family en route from Torrance to Big Bear City, California. The two aircraft collided in mid-air over Cerritos, California, killing all 67 aboard both aircraft and 15 people on the ground. In addition, 8 persons on the ground sustained minor injuries from the crash. [2]


Collision and crash

The Piper aircraft, N4891F, with the pilot and two passengers aboard, had departed Torrance, California at approximately 11:40 PST. At approximately 11:46, Flight 498 began its descent into Los Angeles with 58 passengers and six crew members aboard. At 11:52, the Piper's engine collided with the left horizontal stabilizer of the DC-9; shearing off the top of the Piper's cockpit, killing the pilot and both passengers. The heavily-damaged Piper fell onto an empty playground at Cerritos Elementary School.[3]

The DC-9 inverted and fell to the earth in a residential neighborhood at Holmes Avenue and Reva Circle in Cerritos,[4] killing 15 on the ground and all 64 passengers and crew. The impact and fire destroyed five houses and damaged seven more. A fire sparked by the crash contributed significantly to the damage. When the air traffic controller assigned to Flight 498 could not find the aircraft on the radar, he called up an inbound American Airlines jet for assistance. The pilot on American Airlines Flight 333 replied said that he saw a large smoke plume off to his left, indicating that Flight 498 had crashed.[5]


Breakdown of casualties in the DC-9

Nationality Passengers Crew Total
 Colombia 1 0 1
 El Salvador 1 0 1
 Mexico 20 6 26
 United States 36 0 36
Total 58 6 64

Thirty-six of the passengers were citizens of the United States. Of the Mexican citizens, 11 lived in the United States and 9 lived in Mexico. The Salvadoran citizen lived in the Bay Shore area of the Town of Islip, New York, U.S. Of all of the passengers, 10 were identified as children.[6]

Of the passengers on the Tijuana-Los Angeles leg:[7]

Investigation and aftermath

The National Transportation Safety Board investigation found that N4891F, the Piper, had deviated into the LAX Terminal Control Area. It was out of radio contact with air traffic control, which had been distracted by another flight entering his control area without having received clearance.

Moreover, the Piper was not equipped with a Mode C transponder, which would have indicated its altitude, and LAX had not been equipped with automatic warning systems. Finally, apparently neither pilot sighted the other aircraft because neither attempted any evasive maneuvers, even though they were in visual range. When an autopsy revealed significant arterial blockage in the heart of the Piper's pilot, there was public speculation that he had suffered a heart attack, causing incapacitation and contributing to the collision; however, further forensic evidence discounted this, and error on the part of the Piper pilot was determined to be the main contributing factor to the collision.[5]

As a result of this accident and other near mid-air collisions (NMAC) in terminal control areas, the Federal Aviation Administration required that all commercial aircraft be equipped with traffic alert and collision avoidance systems (TCAS), and required that light aircraft operating in dense airspaces be equipped with "Mode C" transponders that could report three-dimensional position.[8]

A jury ruled that the Aeroméxico plane bore no fault, instead deciding that Kramer and the FAA each acted equally negligently and had equal responsibility. U.S. District Judge David Kenyon agreed with the notion that the FAA shared responsibility.


This crash was featured in the April 24, 2007 episode of the television show Mayday (Air Crash Investigation, Air Emergency) titled "Out of Sight" in the original version and "Collision over LA" in the Air Crash Investigation version.


The Cerritos Air Disaster Memorial in the Cerritos Sculpture Garden.

On March 11, 2006, the City of Cerritos dedicated a new sculpture garden featuring a memorial to the victims of the accident.[9] The sculpture, designed by artist Kathleen Caricof, consists of three pieces. One piece, which resembles a big wing, commemorates the victims aboard the Aeroméxico jet. A similar, but smaller, piece (which also sits atop a smaller pedestal) commemorates the victims aboard the Piper. A third piece, a bench, commemorates the victims on the ground. The bench also allows visitors to sit and reflect on the disaster.[10]

The names of the victims are listed on the pedestals holding the two wing-like pieces. The smaller pedestal is dedicated "in loving memory" of those who perished on the ground, and the larger pedestal is dedicated "in memory" of those who perished aboard the two planes. The names on both pedestals are listed in alphabetical order.


See also

  • PSA Flight 182 - A similar crash that occurred in San Diego in 1978.


  1. ^ "Collision in the "Birdcage"," TIME
  2. ^ NTSB Report-87/07
  3. ^ "The Story of Cerritos: Chapter 8 1976-1986 -Growth, Development and an Unnatural Disaster". City of Cerritos. 
  4. ^ "Aircraft Collision Over Los Angeles Suburb," (diagram) Daily Herald (Chicago), September 2, 1986, p6
  5. ^ a b "Out of Sight," Mayday
  6. ^ "Collison Victims on DC-9." The New York Times. September 2, 1986. Tuesday, Late City Final Edition. Section D, Page 17, Column 5. National Desk.
  7. ^ "List of Casualties on DC-9." The New York Times. September 1, 1986. Monday, Late City Final Edition. Section 1, Page 7, Column 1. National Desk.
  8. ^ Larry Gerber, AP, "1986 Cerritos crash changed the way we fly," The Intelligencer Record (Doylestown, Pa.), September 1, 1996, p A-13
  9. ^ "Sculpture Garden dedication press release". City of Cerritos. March 3, 2006. 
  10. ^ "Cerritos Air Disaster Memorial". City of Cerritos. 

External links

Coordinates: 33°52′05″N 118°02′44″W / 33.86806°N 118.04556°W / 33.86806; -118.04556

Redirecting to Aeroméxico Flight 498


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