WPR11TA083
WPR11TA083

On December 31, 2010, about 1055 Pacific standard time, a Quest Kodiak 100, N702FW, impacted a set of power lines strung across the Smith River about five miles northeast of Reedsport, Oregon. The commercial pilot and his two passengers were not injured, but the airplane, which was owned and operated by the United States Department of Interior, sustained substantial damage. The Public Use migratory waterfowl aerial observation flight, which departed North Bend Regional Airport, North Bend, Oregon, about 1000, had a planned destination of Astoria, Oregon. At the time of the accident, the plane was being operated in visual meteorological conditions. The pilot filed and activated a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan.

According to the pilot, prior to making his low-level observation flight up the Smith River, he first made a high reconnaissance flight along the route at 500 feet above ground level (AGL) in order to look for any possible obstructions. During the reconnaissance flight, the crew identified several hazards, but not the wires that were ultimately impacted. He then began his observation flight, maintaining an altitude between 120 and 150 feet AGL. When he was about five miles northeast of Reedsport, the airplane impacted the power lines. The pilot further stated that although he saw the power line immediately prior to the impact, he did not have time enough to take evasive action that would have avoided the wires. After the impact, the pilot checked the plane's controllability, and then made the decision to return to North Bend Regional Airport for landing.

The impact with the power line resulted in a rip of the skin and deformation of one aileron, and several chunks of metal being torn from the leading edge of the propeller.

The investigation determined that the mission was flown by a pilot/biologist from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Region 7 (Alaska), a biologist/observer from FWS Region 9 (Minnesota), and a retired FWS biologist/observer (contractor) from Alaska. The biologist/observer from region 9 was the only occupant who had flown a Migratory Waterfowl Survey (MWS) in the Pacific Region before. The pilot and the Region 7 biologist/observer were unfamiliar with both the survey track lines and the associated hazards.

It was also determined that the pilot did not possess a hazards map for the low-level survey route that he flew, although such a map, which depicted the wires that were struck, existed, and had been sent to him as part of a multi-attachment email.

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