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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: CEN14LA255
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Tuesday, May 27, 2014 in Gueydan, LA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/17/2015
Aircraft: AIR TRACTOR INC AT 602, registration: N602RR
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 reported observing the airplane make a downwind turn that would re-align it with the field the pilot was spraying. The airplane then entered a descent and struck 30-ft-high power lines before impacting the ground about 30 ft forward of the power lines in a left-wing-low, steep nose-down attitude, which was consistent with the airplane stalling before it impacted the power lines. The pilot was known to make steep, high-G turns when spraying fields.

The day before the accident, the pilot flew the accident airplane, and it struck a bird, which damaged the right wing's leading edge. A mechanic inspected the wing and deemed the damage to be minor; the pilot agreed and subsequently flew the damaged airplane for about 12 hours. A company pilot reported that he heard the pilot comment over the radio during an application pass later that same day that the wing was starting to open up where the bird had impacted it. Even with this knowledge, the pilot continued to fly the airplane. The company pilot also stated that he had looked at the airplane on the morning of the accident and noted that several rivets were missing around the damaged area and that he would not have flown the airplane in that condition; however, he did not share his concerns with the pilot or the operator. Due to impact and postimpact fire damage, it could not be determined if the damaged wing contributed to the accident; however, the spar was undamaged.

The pilot's wife stated that he was not taking any medications and that he was in good health but that he did use marijuana recreationally on the weekends only. The accident occurred on a Tuesday. Although postaccident toxicology tests detected a low level of marijuana in the pilot's blood and lung, it is unlikely that it impaired his performance on the day of the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot's failure to maintain airplane control, which resulted in a stall and subsequent collision with power lines.