NTSB Identification: CEN12FA312B
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Wednesday, May 23, 2012 in Sedgwick, AR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/10/2013
Aircraft: GRUMMAN G-164C, registration: N996QC
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot of the Grumman reported that he approached the field from the northeast with the intention of starting a spray run on the south side of the field, traveling to the southwest. Consistent with local aerial application procedures, the Grumman pilot performed a high-altitude aerial survey of the field he intended to spray before he began his first spray run; he did not observe any other airplanes operating in that area. The Air Tractor pilot departed his private airstrip with the intention of applying herbicide to a rice crop located just south of the field being sprayed by the Grumman, in a north and south application pattern. Global positioning system data recovered from the Air Tractor showed its easterly departure from the private airstrip and flight toward the field intended for application, followed by a left turn and a northerly pass over the field. The pilot of the Grumman stated that he had completed about 50% of his first spray pass when the airplanes collided and that he did not see the Air Tractor before the collision. Postaccident examination of the engine and flight control systems on both airplanes revealed no mechanical anomalies that would have prevented either pilot from maneuvering to avoid an impact. A review of both pilots’ medical records and postaccident medical and pathological examination of the Air Tractor pilot revealed no medical or toxicological issues that would have precluded either pilot from operating his airplane in a safe manner before the accident. Cellular telephone records for the pilot of the Air Tractor indicate that the pilot initiated a telephone conversation with a local farmer (for operational purposes) before his flight and he was still on the telephone with the farmer at the time of the collision. The Air Tractor pilot might have surveyed the area for traffic (in accordance with standard procedures) before he performed his initial pass over the field or scanned the area more actively during his initial pass if he had not been distracted by the telephone call. Based on the airplanes’ flight attitudes and headings at the time of impact, it would have been difficult for either pilot to see the other airplane in time to avoid the collision. In addition, it is likely that the pilot of the Air Tractor was distracted by his telephone conversation.

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

The inability of both pilots to see and avoid the other airplane, which resulted in a midair collision. Contributing to the accident was the distraction of the Air Tractor pilot by a cellular telephone conversation during the flight.

Full narrative available

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