Thursday, February 22, 2018

Air Tractor Inc AT-502B, N6135P, registered to and operated by Coastal Flying Service Inc: Accident occurred July 02, 2017 in Edna, Jackson County, Texas

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Houston, Texas

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Edna, TX
Accident Number: GAA17CA385
Date & Time: 07/02/2017, 1040 CDT
Registration: N6135P
Aircraft: AIR TRACTOR INC AT 502
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Controlled flight into terr/obj (CFIT)
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural


The pilot reported that, while maneuvering at low altitude over a field during an aerial application flight, he was focused on the top of the electrical poles that paralleled the field. He added that he crossed between the electrical poles and was focused on the pole to the right of the airplane. Once he crossed the top wire he focused his attention forward, but added that he "was staring at a 30-ft tower just to the left of the nose" of the airplane. The airplane struck the tower and then impacted the ground.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the empennage.

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to see and avoid a tower during an agricultural application flight. 


Altitude - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Monitoring environment - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Tower/antenna (incl guy wires) - Effect on operation (Cause)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Controlled flight into terr/obj (CFIT) (Defining event)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 39, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Single
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 05/01/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 02/28/2016
Flight Time: (Estimated) 6499 hours (Total, all aircraft), 2081 hours (Total, this make and model), 6499 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 171 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 55 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 6 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: AIR TRACTOR INC
Registration: N6135P
Model/Series: AT 502 B
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1995
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Restricted
Serial Number: 502B-0286
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 12/07/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.:  9400 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Turbo Prop
Airframe Total Time: 9428.7 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Pratt & Whitney
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: PT6A-34
Rated Power: 750 hp
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural Aircraft (137) 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KVCT, 115 ft msl
Observation Time: 1551 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 12 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 230°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 2900 ft agl
Temperature/Dew Point: 32°C / 24°C
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 3700 ft agl
Visibility: 9 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 11 knots, 160°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.14 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Ganado, TX
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Ganado, TX
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1000 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 28.986111, -96.758889 (est)

Preventing Similar Accidents  

Preventing Obstacle Collisions in Agricultural Operations

Accidents involving collisions with obstacles, including poles, wires, guy wires, meteorological evaluation towers, or trees, are among the most common types of agricultural aircraft accidents. Some collisions involved obstacles that the pilots did not see (even during survey flights), but others involved obstacles that were known to the pilot and/or had characteristics that would make them visibly conspicuous.

Agricultural pilots should do the following:

Maintain a quick-reference document (paper or electronic) at the operations base that contains field maps, charts, photographs, and details of all known obstacles.

Frequently review current aeronautical charts for information about obstacles.

Before leaving the ground, spend time becoming familiar with all available information about the target field and programming navigation equipment. Such preflight action can help reduce the potential for confusion or distraction in flight.

Conduct aerial surveys of the target field but do not rely solely on an aerial survey to identify potential obstacles.

Conduct regular ground surveys of fields. Some towers can be erected in hours, and obstacles can change since you last worked that field. Speak with farmers and land owners to raise awareness about obstacle hazards.

When possible, use ground crews. They may be in a better position to see certain obstacles and help you ensure that your aircraft remains clear of them.

Watch for shadows and irregularities in growth patterns to help identify obstacles. Use GPS and other technology to maintain awareness of obstacle locations.

Be aware that workload, fatigue, sun glare, and distractions in the cockpit can adversely affect your ability to see, avoid, or remember obstacles. Heavier loads and higher density altitudes can affect the performance of your aircraft.

The National Agricultural Aviation Association's Professional Aerial Applicators' Support System reminds pilots that, when ferrying an aircraft or transitioning between sites, flying above 500 feet reduces obstacle collision risks: 'Ferry Above Five and Stay Alive.'

See for additional resources.

The NTSB presents this information to prevent recurrence of similar accidents. Note that this should not be considered guidance from the regulator, nor does this supersede existing FAA Regulations (FARs).

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