Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Air Tractor AT-802A, N70LA, Custom Air Inc: Accident occurred July 31, 2017 at Wells Municipal Airport/Harriet Field (LWL), Elko County, Nevada

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Reno, Nevada
Air Tractor, Inc.; Olney, Texas

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

 Custom Air Inc: http://registry.faa.gov/N70LA

NTSB Identification: WPR17LA177
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Monday, July 31, 2017 in Wells, NV
Aircraft: AIR TRACTOR INC AT 802A, registration: N70LA
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On July 31, 2017, about 1140 Pacific daylight time, an Air Tractor AT-802A, N70LA, was substantially damaged during a landing roll at Wells Municipal Airport/Harriet Field (LWL), Wells, Nevada. The commercial pilot was not injured. The airplane was registered to Custom Air, Inc., operated by Henry's Aerial Service, Inc. and under contract with the Department of the Interior to provide aerial application services. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a company flight plan was filed for the cross-country flight that departed Battle Mountain, Nevada about 1042 under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137. 

According to the pilot, after an uneventful flight he entered the airport through the left downwind leg of the traffic pattern for runway 26, which was the active runway at the time of the accident. He observed winds from the north at approximately 10 mph from the midfield windsock and configured the airplane for a wheel landing. The airplane touched down on the main landing gear at approximately 85 mph on the runway centerline. As the airspeed bled off and the tailwheel began to sink back down to the runway surface, the pilot lost all rudder and aileron authority. The pilot subsequently unlocked the tailwheel to prevent the airplane from departing the runway, but it entered a hard right turn. The left main landing gear collided with an imperfection in the asphalt and separated. The left wing then impacted the ground and the airplane rotated 180 degrees before it came to rest on the north side of the runway.

In a subsequent statement, the pilot reported that he did not encounter any mechanical anomalies that could have precluded normal operation. Further, both the pilot and a representative of the Department of the Interior confirmed continuity and function of the rudder after the airplane came to rest. 


According to preliminary weather data, variable winds consistent with local circulations and thermals were present in the area at the time of the accident. The data did not show any fronts or existing weather systems at the time of the accident.

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