Accident Dassault Falcon 20C N121GW, Thursday 18 May 1978
ASN logo

Date:Thursday 18 May 1978
Type:Silhouette image of generic FA20 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Dassault Falcon 20C
Owner/operator:Flight Safety International
Registration: N121GW
MSN: 4
Year of manufacture:1965
Fatalities:Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 4
Other fatalities:2
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Location:6 km W of Memphis International Airport, TN (MEM) -   United States of America
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:Memphis International Airport, TN (MEM/KMEM)
Destination airport:Memphis International Airport, TN (MEM/KMEM)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
A Dassault Falcon 20 jet, N121GW, collided in midair with a Cessna 150M, N6423K, 3.7 miles west of Memphis International Airport, Tennessee, USA.
N121GW was being operated by Flight Safety International as a training flight. A flight instructor and three Saudi Arabian students were aboard. The training syllabus for that day called for multiple instrument approaches in the Memphis traffic pattern. Each student would fly 1 hour from the right (copilot) seat. The Falcon departed runway 17L at 10:07 and made multiple instrument approaches to runway 17R.
Cessna 150M, N6423K, was being operated by the Memphis Flying Club. The pilot-in-command was a flying club instructor pilot giving a familiarization flight. The Cessna departed Memphis International Airport at 11:24 and proceeded west to West Memphis Airport. After a brief stop, the Cessna departed West Memphis Airport at 11:59 to return to Memphis International Airport.
The Cessna was VFR and was receiving Stage III radar service. Both aircraft were under control of Memphis tower controllers and were in radar and radio contact with the tower.
At 12:10:02 the Cessna was cleared for a left downwind for runway 27. At 12:10:04 the Falcon reported at 2000 feet on a downwind for runway 17R. The controller cleared the flight for a heading of three five zero.
Both aircraft collided at 2000 feet. The Falcon continued straight and level for a few seconds when a fireball engulfed the aircraft just aft of the cockpit. The Falcon then turned to the right, rolled on its longitudinal axis, and dove to the ground. The Cessna crashed as well and all occupants of both planes were killed.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The failure of controller personnel to separate the aircraft as required by procedures established for a terminal radar service area, to insure that proper coordination was effected, to issue appropriate traffic advisories, and the failure of each flightcrew to see and avoid the other aircraft."

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: DCA78AA013
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 6 months
Download report: Final report




photo (c) NTSB; Memphis International Airport, TN (MEM); 18 May 1978

photo (c) NTSB; Memphis International Airport, TN (MEM); 18 May 1978

Revision history:


The Aviation Safety Network is an exclusive service provided by:
Quick Links:

CONNECT WITH US: FSF on social media FSF Facebook FSF Twitter FSF Youtube FSF LinkedIn FSF Instagram

©2024 Flight Safety Foundation

1920 Ballenger Av, 4th Fl.
Alexandria, Virginia 22314