NTSB Identification: ATL02LA066.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, March 26, 2002 in Hastings, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/30/2003
Aircraft: Air Tractor AT-400A, registration: N3159G
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

While spraying fungicide to a potato field the pilot heard a loud explosion in the vicinity of the wing center section. After the explosion he had no control of the airplane and the airplane impacted the ground separating the right wing. Examination of the wreckage found the right wing tip near the initial impact point. The path of the airplane's debris field was to the north with a turn towards the east. The airplane then impacted into an irrigation ditch 261 feet from the initial impact point. Further examination of the wreckage found portions of the right wing spar imbedded into the ground in a near vertical attitude. Examination of the section of the wing spar by the NTSB Materials Laboratory found fatigue cracking in the most outboard splice bolt hole in the lower spar cap of the right wing. Air Tractor reported that this was the first known instance of fatigue cracking or fracture on a modified lower spar cap. As a result of this investigation the FAA issued an airworthiness directive that requires operators to inspect the wing centerline splice joint for cracks.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

Fatigue cracking in the most outboard splice bolt hole in the lower spar cap of the right wing. .

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