Thursday, March 08, 2018

Air Tractor AT-802A, N3070R: Fatal accident occurred August 18, 2015 in Wiville, Woodruff County, Arkansas


The commercial pilot was conducting a local agricultural application flight when the airplane collided with a utility pole that was located along the border of the field being sprayed. A witness reported hearing the pilot transmit over the radio that he had "messed up" and that his airplane had collided with a pole. The pilot also reported having an unspecified flight control issue following the collision. The witness stated that the airplane remained in level flight for about 1 mile before it entered a slow right roll and descended into a forested area. Postaccident examination established that the airplane's right wingtip had impacted near the top of the 30-ft-tall utility pole. The examination did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation of the airplane before the collision. It is likely that the collision with the utility pole damaged the right aileron, which resulted in an uncontrolled right roll and subsequent descent into terrain.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from a utility pole while maneuvering during an agricultural application flight, which resulted in damage to the right aileron and a subsequent uncontrolled right roll at a low altitude.


Aileron control system - Damaged/degraded

Personnel issues
Monitoring environment - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Pole - Effect on equipment

Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering-low-alt flying
Low altitude operation/event (Defining event)
Flight control sys malf/fail
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Mr. Chad Allan Powell age 34, of Cherry Valley, Arkansas passed away on August 18, 2015.

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

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

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Wiville, AR
Accident Number: CEN15LA367
Date & Time: 08/18/2015, 1105 CDT
Registration: N3070R
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Low altitude operation/event
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural 

On August 18, 2015, about 1105 central daylight time, an Air Tractor AT-802A airplane, N3070R, was destroyed during impact with trees and terrain following an inflight collision with a utility pole near Wiville, Arkansas. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Reynolds Flying Service, Inc., under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 137. Day meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site and no flight plan was filed for the local agricultural application flight, which departed McCrory/Morton Airport (7M0), McCrory, Arkansas, at 1100.

A pilot conducting another agricultural application flight nearby reported that the accident pilot transmitted over the radio that he had "messed up" and that his airplane had collided with a pole (the airplane remained airborne). The accident pilot also reported having an unspecified flight control issue following the collision. The witness located the accident airplane and maneuvered his airplane closer to render assistance. The witness reported that the accident airplane remained in level flight for about 1 mile before it entered a slow right roll and descended into a forested area. The witness reported that the airplane impacted trees in a slight right-wing-down, nose-low attitude. The witness reported seeing an explosion when the airplane collided with the trees. He estimated that 30-45 seconds had elapsed between the impact with the utility pole and when the airplane descended into the forested area. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 34, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Center
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 5-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 11/19/2014
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 01/09/2015
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 4139.2 hours (Total, all aircraft), 900 hours (Total, this make and model), 250 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 50 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft) 

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the 34-year-old pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on November 19, 2014, with no limitations or restrictions. On the application for the medical certificate, the pilot reported having accumulated 2,400 total hours of flight experience, of which 350 hours were flown within the previous 6 months.

The pilot's flight history was established using his logbook. The final logbook entry was dated March 31, 2015, at which time he had 4,139.2 total hours of flight experience, all of which was in single-engine airplanes. The operator reported that the pilot had flown at least 900 hours in the accident airplane make and model. The operator also reported that the pilot had flown about 250 hours during the 90 days before the accident and 50 hours during the month before the accident. The pilot's most recent flight review was completed on January 9, 2015, in an American Champion 8KCAB (Decathlon) single-engine airplane.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: AIR TRACTOR INC
Registration: N3070R
Model/Series: AT-802A
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Restricted
Serial Number: 802A-0528
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 10/06/2014, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 16000 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 405 Hours
Engines: 1 Turbo Prop
Airframe Total Time: 878.4 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Pratt & Whitney Canada
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: PT6A-65AG
Registered Owner:  Reynolds Flying Service, Inc.
Rated Power: 1295 hp
Operator: Reynolds Flying Service, Inc.
Operating Certificate(s) Held:  Agricultural Aircraft (137)

The accident airplane, serial number 802A-0528, was manufactured in 2013 and was powered by a 1,295 shaft-horsepower Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65AG turbo-propeller engine, serial number PCE-PN0188, which drove a five-blade, constant-speed, full-feathering, Hartzell model HC-B5MP-3F/M11276NS propeller assembly. The single-seat airplane was equipped with a conventional landing gear, flaps, and agricultural application equipment. The airplane had a maximum allowable takeoff weight of 16,000 pounds. The airplane was issued a restricted category airworthiness certificate on September 26, 2013.

The airplane's recording hour meter indicated 878.4 hours at the accident site. According to available maintenance documentation, the airframe and engine had accumulated a total service time of 878.4 hours since new. The last annual inspection of the airplane was completed on October 6, 2014, at 473.4 total airframe hours. The airplane had accumulated 405 hours since the annual inspection. A postaccident review of the maintenance records found no history of unresolved airworthiness issues. The operator reported that the airplane departed on the flight with 150 gallons of Jet-A fuel on board. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: SRC, 265 ft msl
Observation Time: 1056 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 26 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 276°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 31°C / 24°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots, 160°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 29.92 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point:  McCrory, AR (7M0)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: McCrory, AR (7M0)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1100 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G 

A postaccident review of available meteorological data established that day visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site. The nearest aviation weather reporting station was located at Searcy Municipal Airport (SRC), Searcy, Arkansas, about 26 miles west of the accident site. At 1056, about 9 minutes before the accident, the SRC automated surface observing system reported wind 160° magnetic at 8 knots, a clear sky, 10 miles surface visibility, temperature 31°C, dew point 24°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.92 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: On-Ground
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  35.163611, -91.223611 

The accident site was examined by FAA inspectors and an Air Tractor representative. The initial impact was with a 30-ft-tall wooden utility pole located along the western border of the field being sprayed. Near the top of the pole were several embedded pieces of yellow fiberglass consistent with the airplane's right wingtip. Also embedded in the pole was a transparent glass wingtip strobe light and associated electrical wires. There were numerous small pieces of yellow fiberglass found on the ground, extending 250 ft from the utility pole on a south heading. The main wreckage was in a densely forested area located about 2 miles south-southwest of the utility pole. The accident site consisted of mature trees that were 60-80 ft tall. A fan-shaped wreckage debris field extended about 400 ft from the initial tree impact. The distribution of the wreckage was consistent with the airplane traveling east when it impacted trees. The fuselage and wings were highly fragmented during the impact with the trees. There was evidence of a prolonged postimpact ground fire.

All airframe structural components and flight control surfaces were located along the wreckage debris path. Flight control continuity could not be established due to impact damage; however, all observed separations were consistent with overstress or damage sustained during the postimpact fire. The flap actuator was found in the fully retracted position. The engine remained attached to the fuselage mounts. The propeller hub assembly and the forward section of the reduction gearbox had separated from the engine and were found along the wreckage debris path. Three of the five propeller blades remained attached to the hub assembly. All five propeller blades exhibited various S-shaped bends, tip curls, chordwise scratching, and leading edge damage. The postaccident examination did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation of the airplane before it collided with the utility pole. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, Little Rock, Arkansas, performed an autopsy on the pilot. The cause of death was attributed to multiple blunt-force injuries sustained during the accident.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on specimens obtained during the autopsy. The pilot's toxicology results were negative for carbon monoxide and ethanol. 83 ug/ml of acetaminophen was detected in urine. 

Dextromethorphan and dextrorphan were detected in urine and blood. 

Doxylamine was detected in urine, but not in blood.

Acetaminophen is a pain and fever reliever commonly sold with the name Tylenol. Dextrorphan is a metabolite of dextromethorphan, an over-the-counter cough medicine. Doxylamine is an antihistamine available in several combination products such as Nyquil, and is used to relieve sneezing, running nose, and nasal congestion caused by the common cold and allergies. Although doxylamine was detected in urine, the absence of the substance in blood is considered non-impairing. 

Tests And Research

The airplane was equipped with a Hemisphere IntelliStar GPS system that provided guidance and analysis for agricultural application operations. The system's non-volatile memory card was recovered at the accident site and downloaded. The downloaded data was processed and reviewed by the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Division. The recovered data included information from February 2, 2011, through May 12, 2011. The most recent flight on May 12, 2011, departed and landed at McCrory/Morton Airport (7M0). Additionally, the last recorded flight path did not match the location of the accident site. The unit contained no data pertinent to the accident flight.

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