NTSB Identification: CEN12LA453
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Tuesday, July 17, 2012 in Britt, IA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/19/2013
Aircraft: AIR TRACTOR INC AT-402B, registration: N4843J
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

A witness observed the accident airplane spraying corn about 2 miles south of his farm. He reported that he heard the engine “sputter” and looked south to see if he could see the airplane. At that moment, he observed a “large ball of fire go up.” A power line bordering the east edge of the field being sprayed was severed. In addition, a power line support pole and crossbeam west of the severed power line were damaged. One of the transmission lines was down at that location. Yellow paint transfer marks were observed on the power lines. Fragments attributed to the left wing of the airplane were located in the vicinity of the damaged support pole. The airplane came to rest inverted in the corn field west-northwest of the support pole. A postaccident examination of the airplane did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction. Records revealed that the pilot was engaged in cellphone activity during the accident flight, and one call ended shortly before the accident. The NTSB issued a Safety Alert regarding Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) and it states, “…avoid nonoperational use of PEDs before and during flight."

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

The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from power transmission lines during an agricultural application operation. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s distracted attention due to personal cell phone use during flight operations.

Full narrative available

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