Airport manager explains the regulations of communication in the air

F-15 Eagle fighter planes at Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield.

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Federal investigators say they still don’t know what caused an F-16 fighter jet to collide with a Cessna on Tuesday over South Carolina killing two people on-board the small plane.

22News went to Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport to find out how military and civilian aircraft safely share a joint airfield here in western Massachusetts. Airport manager Brian Barnes said fighters follow strict regulations in the ways they communicate with towers, but it’s not always the case for civilian planes.

“Anybody that’s at this airport talks to our control tower and they control both military and civilian traffic. There’s positive separation; everybody knows where everybody is. That’s all controlled within a five mile radius,” said Barnes.

Once they’re outside that five mile radius, civilians can fly below approach control airspace. They’re not required to talk to anyone, making them unaware of who else is around them.

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