Sunday, January 21, 2018

Air Tractor AT502, N301LA, registered to and operated by Pioneer Flying Service Inc: Fatal accident occurred April 18, 2016 in Kilbourne, West Carroll Parish, Louisiana

Danny Morgan
October 9, 1967 - April 18, 2016 
Danny Morgan was an Ag Pilot and had been for 16 years.



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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Air Tractor, Inc; Olney, Texas
Pratt & Whitney Canada Corp.;  Longueuil, Quebec, Canada

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

Pioneer Flying Service Inc: http://registry.faa.gov/N301LA

Location: Kilbourne, LA
Accident Number: CEN16LA154
Date & Time: 04/18/2016, 0910 CDT
Registration: N301LA
Aircraft: AIR TRACTOR INC AT 502
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event:  Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural 

On April 18, 2016, about 0910 central daylight time, an Air Tractor Inc AT-502 airplane, N301LA, impacted terrain during spray operations near Kilbourne, Louisiana. The pilot was fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by Pioneer Flying Service, Inc., under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 as an aerial application flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, with no flight plan filed. The local flight departed a private airport about 0900. 

According to operator personnel, the pilot was conducting his second load of spray operations for the day to the same farm area, which was about ¼ mile north of the accident site. A witness near the accident noticed the airplane enter a rapid descent while in a turn until it impacted the ground. A post-crash fire ensued.

The farmer whose field was being sprayed stated the pilot was "dressing up" a field, which had a tight area shaped like a bull nose, with trees at the end. The farmer did not witness the accident. He remarked the pilot was able to spray tight areas of fields that other pilots elected not to spray. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 48, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification:  Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 06/01/2015
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 03/15/2016
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 13261 hours (Total, all aircraft), 2463 hours (Total, this make and model), 13261 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 100 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 50 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

The pilot, age 48, held a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. The pilot held a second-class medical certificate issued on June 1, 2015, with the restriction that he must wear corrective lenses for near vision. The date of his last flight review was March 15, 2016. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: AIR TRACTOR INC
Registration: N301LA
Model/Series: AT 502
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1989
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Restricted
Serial Number: 502-0037
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 02/17/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 9400 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Turbo Prop
Airframe Total Time: 9585 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Pratt and Whitney
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: PT6A-34G
Registered Owner: Pioneer Flying Service
Rated Power: 750 hp
Operator:  PIONEER FLYING SERVICE INC
Operating Certificate(s) Held:  Agricultural Aircraft (137)
Operator Does Business As:
Operator Designator Code:  JQBG 

The single-engine low-wing conventional-geared airplane was equipped with a Pratt and Whitney PT6A-34AG turbo-prop engine. According to the operator, the last annual inspection was performed on February 17, 2016. The airframe total time was 9,585 hours and the engine total time was 7,022 hours, with 445 hours since the last hot section inspection. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KBQP, 167 ft msl
Observation Time: 0915 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 32 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 243°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C / 15°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots, 80°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.24 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Pioneer, LA (PRI)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Pioneer, LA (PRI)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0900 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

At 0915, the weather observation station at Morehouse Memorial Airport (BQP), Bastrop, Louisiana, located about 32 miles southwest of the accident site, reported the following conditions: wind 080 degrees at 4 knots, 10 miles visibility, clear skies, temperature 19°C, dew point 15°C, altimeter setting 30.24 inches of mercury. 



Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 32.999722, -91.315000 

The airplane impacted a soft open field. Other than a set of electrical lines, no obstacles were in the immediate area of the wreckage. The wreckage had no signs of an in-flight impact with wires, trees, or other obstacles. The wooded area toward the sprayed field was searched for broken branches or other signs of tree impact, with none observed. 

The wreckage was confined to the immediate vicinity of the impact site. The impact crater contained pieces of engine cowling, windshield plexiglass, and the hopper top and lid. The engine penetrated about 3 ft deep into the soft soil. Radiating from the crater were impressions in the soil, consistent with impact marks from the leading edge of both wings. The wings were located about 10 feet away from these impressions. Both wings were crushed aft, with the left wing receiving more damage than the right wing. The aft fuselage and rudder showed signs of momentum toward the left side of the airplane. The ground impact markings and wreckage were consistent with a steep, nose down impact at low groundspeed. The fuselage was mostly destroyed by impact forces and a post-crash fire.

All control surfaces were located and identified, except for the vertical stabilizer. The only piece of the vertical stabilizer that was located was a short piece of the stabilizer rear spar that remained attached to the lower portion of the rudder. The lower hinge point of the rudder was found fully intact with minimal damage. The end of the wire deflector cable that was attached to the top of the stabilizer was found underneath the cockpit wreckage. Multiple pieces of fire-damaged aluminum were identified as possible vertical stabilizer components, but none could be confirmed. A witness mark was observed on the top fuselage skin that corresponded to the shape of the vertical stabilizer's leading edge.

The wings flaps were in the full up position. Flight control continuity was confirmed to the extent possible, with several components consumed by the fire or cut by emergency response personnel during the pilot's extrication. The aileron/rudder interconnect system, which is a system of cables that connect the rudder pedals to the aileron controls to assist the pilot with coordinated flight, had been removed from the airplane.

The engine was damaged by the post-crash fire, with the inlet case fractured, causing complete separation of the accessories gearbox from the engine. Rotational signatures were observed throughout the compressor and power turbines and adjacent static components, consistent with the engine rotating under power during impact. There was no evidence of pre-impact anomalies of the engine, airframe, or propeller.

Due to fire damage, data from a GPS unit found in the wreckage could not be downloaded. 

Medical And Pathological Information

During his last FAA medical examination, the pilot reported heterophoria (cross-eyes), previous treatment for a kidney stone, and long-standing hypertension. He also reported using nisoldipine, valsartan, and hydrochlorothiazide, commonly sold with the names Sular and Diovan-HCT. Used to treat his blood pressure, none of these medications are generally considered impairing.

According to the autopsy report from the West Carroll Parish Coroner's Office in Oak Grove, Louisiana, the cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries and the manner of death was accident. The heart weighed 550 grams and was enlarged due to concentric left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH). The left wall of the ventricle was reported as 1.8 cm thick; measurements in other areas were not reported. Average for a man with the pilot's weight of 282 pounds is 443 grams with a range of 335-584 grams; average left ventricular wall thickness is about 1.3 cm. LVH is commonly caused by longstanding hypertension. Toxicology performed by the FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory identified valsartan in urine and cavity blood. Valsartan is described above.

NTSB Identification: CEN16LA154
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Monday, April 18, 2016 in Kilbourne, LA
Aircraft: AIR TRACTOR INC AT 502, registration: N301LA
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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 April 18, 2016, about 0910 central daylight time, an Air Tractor Inc. AT-502 airplane, N301LA, was destroyed after impact with terrain near Kilbourne, Louisiana. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Pioneer Flying Service Inc. under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 as an aerial spraying flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, with no flight plan filed. The local flight departed a private airport about 0900.

According to operator personnel, the pilot was conducting his second load of spray operations to the same farm area. A witness located near this farm stated she noticed the airplane in a turn and subsequently enter into a rapid descent until impacting the ground. The Federal Aviation Administration inspector responding to the accident site reported the airplane impacted into an open field with a steep nose down attitude.

At 0915, the weather observation station at Morehouse Memorial Airport (BQP), Bastrop, Louisiana, located about 32 miles southwest of the accident site, reported the following conditions: wind 080 degrees at 4 knots, 10 miles visibility, clear skies, temperature 19 degrees C, dew point 15 degrees C, altimeter setting 30.24 inches of mercury.

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