Saturday, May 5, 2018

Piper PA-25-235 Pawnee, N7388Z, owned by a private individual and operated by the Bloomfield AG and Aerial Service Company: Accident occurred July 18, 2017 in Pierce, Nebraska

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Lincoln, Nebraska

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


Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

http://registry.faa.gov/N7388Z



Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

Location: Pierce, NE
Accident Number: CEN17LA272
Date & Time: 07/18/2017, 1330 CDT
Registration: N7388Z
Aircraft: PIPER PA-25-235
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Low altitude operation/event
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural 

On July 18, 2017, about 1330 central daylight time, a Piper PA-25-235 airplane, N7388Z, collided with terrain while maneuvering at a low altitude about 7 nautical miles northwest of Pierce, Nebraska. The pilot was seriously injured, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was owned by a private individual and operated by the Bloomfield AG and Aerial Service company as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 aerial application flight. Visual meteorological conditions existed near the accident site at the time of the flight, and a flight plan had not been filed. The flight departed the Bloomfield Municipal Airport (84Y), Bloomfield, Nebraska, about 1330 on a local flight.

The pilot reported to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector that he started working for the operator as an agricultural pilot in the Spring of 2017. The pilot's flight logbook indicated that he had flown 17.5 hours in the accident airplane before the accident occurred, which was also his total experience as an agricultural pilot.

On the day of the accident, he started spraying operations at 0800, and completed two flights before the accident flight. The pilot stated that the airplane was loaded with 60 gallons of chemical and about 32 gallons of fuel for the 60-acre field that he planned to spray near 84Y. He stated that he set a smoke path during the initial pass and flew over the field from north to south. He stated that the airplane was also equipped with a Trimble GPS system and marking flags to track the airplane's progress across the field. He reported that he had no further memory of the flight.

A witness stated that he observed the airplane when it sprayed two fields in the morning and that the airplane's engine was running normally during those two flights. He stated that he also observed the airplane during the accident flight. He saw the airplane fly-by for an initial check of the field. It then started spraying along the east side of the cornfield. The airplane made its turn at the north end of the field and then started its second pass heading south. About mid-way down the field, adjacent to the irrigation pivot point, the witness observed blue smoke coming from the airplane for about 150 to 200 ft. He estimated that the airplane speed was about 100 mph. The airplane clipped a tree at the south end of the field and it rolled completely over. He lost sight of the airplane behind the tree line. He located the accident site and assisted the pilot until emergency responders arrived. Two neighbors, who saw the airplane spraying the field, stated that they had heard a "popping" noise but did not see the airplane crash. The witness stated that he did not hear anything out of the ordinary or the popping noise, although his all-terrain vehicle was operating and the radio was on.

FAA inspectors examined the airplane wreckage at the accident site. They reported that the airplane's right position light along with 1/4 of the right wingtip were found lying next to the tree that was struck. The branches that were struck were about 30 to 40 ft above the ground. The main wreckage was found about 360 ft from the impacted tree. The chemical hopper lid, which is located on the top of the aircraft behind the engine compartment, was found imbedded in the bottom of the ground scar created by the initial ground impact. The propeller spinner was found "shoved" into the propeller blades and spinner bulkhead, which is consistent with a nose first contact. The airplane was found lying right side up, facing to the north. The engine compartment and cockpit exhibited aft crushing. The airplane's tail was buckled downward just aft of the cockpit's rear bulkhead. Both wings exhibited aft crushing, but the right wing had extensive damage outboard of the wing strut. The flight controls exhibited continuity from the cockpit to the control surfaces. The propeller blades exhibited "S" bending and chordwise scratching.

The airplane was equipped with a 250-horsepower Lycoming O-540-A1A5 engine, serial number L-1365-40. It had a total time of 1010.6 hours and 35 hours since the last overhaul. It was installed on the accident airplane on April 2, 2017. The airplane was equipped with a smoke marker, which would produce blue smoke used as a field marker, to aid in lining up spray runs, and to provide wind drift indications near the ground.

At 1356, the surface weather observation at the Norfolk Regional Airport (OFK), located 18 nm southeast of the accident site, was wind light and variable; visibility 10 miles; cloud condition 3,800 ft broken; temperature 31° C; dew point 21° C; and altimeter setting 30.00 inches of mercury. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 25, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Single
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 4-point
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: 06/30/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  294 hours (Total, all aircraft), 17.5 hours (Total, this make and model), 17.5 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 4 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: PIPER
Registration: N7388Z
Model/Series: PA-25-235
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1965
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Restricted
Serial Number: 25-3348
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 05/05/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2299 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 8921 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: O-540-A1A5
Registered Owner: BARNEY STEVEN K
Rated Power: 250 hp
Operator: Bloomfield AG and Aerial Service
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural Aircraft (137)
Operator Does Business As: Bloomfield AG and Aerial Service
Operator Designator Code: B49G 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: OFK, 1572 ft msl
Observation Time: 1356 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 18 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 143°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Temperature/Dew Point: 31°C / 21°C
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 3800 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Light and Variable, Variable
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Precipitation
Departure Point: Bloomfield, NE (84Y)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Bloomfield, NE (84Y)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1300 CDT
Type of Airspace:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude:  42.226944, -97.684167

NTSB Identification: CEN17LA272
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Tuesday, July 18, 2017 in Pierce, NE
Aircraft: PIPER PA 25-235, registration: N7388Z
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 18, 2017, about 1356 central daylight time, a Piper PA-25-235, N7388Z, collided with terrain while maneuvering at a low altitude about 7 nautical miles (nm) northwest of Pierce, Nebraska. The pilot was seriously injured, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was owned by a private individual and operated by the Bloomfield AG and Aerial Service company as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 aerial application flight. Visual meteorological conditions existed near the accident site at the time of the flight, and a flight plan had not been filed. The flight departed the Bloomfield Municipal Airport (84Y), Bloomfield, Nebraska, about 1330 on a local flight. 

At 1356, the surface weather observation at the Norfolk Regional Airport (OFK), located 18 nm southeast of the accident site, was wind light and variable; visibility 10 miles; cloud condition 3,800 ft broken; temperature 31 degrees C; dew point 21 degrees C; and altimeter setting 30.00 inches of mercury.

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