DFW08LA143
DFW08LA143

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On May 14, 2008, approximately 1930 central daylight time, a single-engine, turbine powered, Air Tractor, AT502B airplane, N6112D, was substantially damaged upon impact with terrain following a loss of control while performing an aerial application flight near Wheatley, Arkansas. The commercially rated pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered and operated by Rice Ag Service, Inc. of Wynne, Arkansas, Texas. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 flight.

A witness reported seeing the airplane make its spray runs and; “nothing [appeared] out of the ordinary.” The witness, who had his back to the airplane, continued with his work then he heard a loud “pop”. As he turned around, he believed he saw a large spray of water when the airplane hit standing water. The witness also reported that the airplane’s engine noise stopped immediately, when he heard the “pop”.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector responded to the accident site, and reported that the airplane came to rest in the upright position in about three feet of water. The amount of fuel on the aircraft could not be determined on-site, however, a fuel sheen was observed on the surrounding water.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land rating. The pilot’s second-class medical certificate was issued on December 4, 2007. His certificate had the limitations; carrying passengers for hire is prohibited at night and cross-country flights of more than 50-nautical miles, associated with it. At the time of application for the medical certificate, the pilot reported having 260-hours of total flight time, 150-hours of which were flown in the previous 6 months.

After the accident, a review of the pilot’s logbook indicated the pilot had accumulated 356-hours total flight time, with 70-hours in make-and-model.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The accident airplane was an Air Tractor AT-502B. The airplane held a Special Airworthiness Certificate with a restricted category for Agricultural and Pest Control operations. The airplane was equipped with a turboprop Pratt and Whitney PT6A-34AG engine.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

An aviation weather observation station is not located in the local area; however, the weather at the time of the accident was reported as Visual Meteorological Rules (VFR).

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The FAA inspector conducted the on-scene examination and provided site photographs. Once the on-site inspection was complete, the airplane was recovered to a secure facility for further examination. On June 11, 2008 the NTSB Investigator-in-charge and technical representatives from the airframe and engine manufacturer examined the wreckage at the salvage yard. A review of the accident site photographs and wreckage revealed the airplane in an upright position. All four corners of the aircraft were accounted for. The fuselage, wings, engine, landing gear and, empennage structure were identified along with all of the control surface structures. The entire length of the wing’s leading edge was “accordion crushed”, along with the front of the airplane crushed rearward. The cockpit/instrument panel sustained rearward crush damage. The accident site and wreckage marks were consistent with a steep impact angle with the ground. Flight control continuity was established to the respective control surfaces. The flap jackscrew was found extended about 3-inches, corresponding to the full flaps down position. The airframe manufacturer noted that there is not an approved procedure for making application turns with flaps fully extended.

The three-bladed propeller remained attached to the engine. All three blades were either bent back or twisted. The engine which had sustained heavy impact damage was partially dissembled. The power turbine section components displayed heavy circumferential rubbing and scoring with their adjacent parts. Additionally, there was no indication of any pre-impact abnormalities with the engine. The engine technical representative stated that the engine signatures were consistent with the engine producing “mid to high” power, at the time of impact.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, Medical Examiner division, Little Rock, Arkansas, on May 16, 2008. The final autopsy report listed the cause of death as "Multiple blunt force injuries."

A Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report was prepared by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The tests revealed no evidence of carbon monoxide, ethanol, or any screened drugs.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The airplane was equipped with a Satloc M3 guidance system. The data card was retrieved from the wreckage and downloaded. Hemisphere GPS Air Products (Satloc) reviewed the data and reported the system was not logging at the time, and didn’t reveal any information relevant to the accident.

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