Monday, October 15, 2018

Air Tractor AT-502B, N6135P: Fatal accident occurred October 12, 2018 and Accident occurred July 02, 2017

By Amy Fojtik, Growing America
http://georgia.growingamerica.com


The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Antonio, Texas
Air Tractor Inc; Olney, Texas

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


Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms 
 
https://registry.faa.gov/N6135P



By Amy Fojtik, Growing America
http://georgia.growingamerica.com

Location: Placedo, TX
Accident Number: CEN19FA003
Date & Time: 10/12/2018, 1831 CDT
Registration: N6135P
Aircraft: Air Tractor AT502
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Low altitude operation/event
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural 

On October 12, 2018, at 1831 central daylight time, an Air Tractor AT-502B airplane, N6135P, impacted an antenna tower near Placedo, Texas. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postimpact fire. The airplane was registered to and operated by Coastal Flying Service Inc., Ganado, Texas, as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 137 aerial application flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight originated from the operator's private airstrip near Ganado, Texas, about 1730.

On the day of the accident, the pilot had completed two flights before the accident flight. The first flight departed about 0930 and the second about 1015. The accident flight was the third flight of the day. The airplane was fueled to about 3/4 capacity (120 gallons) before the flight. The application load consisted of about 460 gallons of herbicide.

According to a representative of the operator, this was the first time the pilot had sprayed that particular field. The southwest corner of the field was located 1/2-mile east-northeast of a radio antenna tower. Before the flight, they had reviewed the potential hazards using available satellite imagery. Of note were the power lines running along the south side of the field and the antenna tower.

A witness stated that he was outside in his yard, about 3 miles east-northeast of the radio antenna, when he observed the airplane fly over. The airplane seemed to be flying along the road in a west-southwesterly direction and appeared to be level. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary, except that it seemed to be flying more slowly than other agricultural airplanes. He recalled the airplane was flying at approximately the same height as the missing section of the antenna.

A second witness reported that he was at home, about 300 yards east of the radio antenna, when he heard the airplane fly over. After initially hearing the airplane, he recalled hearing the sound of it hitting the antenna and then the sound of an explosion. He went to a window and observed the airplane descending toward the ground. From the initial sound, he thought that the airplane was westbound immediately before striking the antenna. 


Pilot Wesley Fojtik and his son, Cort

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 40, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Single
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
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: 05/29/2018
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 02/24/2018
Flight Time: 6687 hours (Total, all aircraft), 2102 hours (Total, this make and model) 

The pilot's logbook was not available to the NTSB. At the time of his most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman medical certificate application, dated May 28, 2018, the pilot reported a total flight time of 6,500 hours with 200 hours flown within the past 6 months. His most recent flight review was completed in February 2018. He had completed a knowledge and skill test for agricultural aircraft pilot operations on February 24, 2017, and had flown for the operator for about 6 years.

Information provided by the FAA indicated that the pilot was involved in an accident in July 2017 while flying the accident airplane (NTSB No. GAA17CA385). The pilot was focused on some electrical power lines while maneuvering at low altitude during an agricultural application flight. Shortly after clearing the power lines, the airplane impacted a 30 ft tall tower located in his flight path. The pilot noted that he had verified the location of the tower when he circled the first time, but that his focus was on a house and clearing the power lines immediately before the collision. There were no anomalies with respect to the airplane before striking the tower. The cause of the accident was attributed to the pilot's failure to see and avoid the tower.

Records provided by the pilot's cellphone provider indicated that two calls originated from the pilot's cellphone during the time of the flight. The first was initiated at 1741:47 and lasted for 21 minutes and 22 seconds. The second was initiated at 1804:34 and lasted for 6 seconds. Based on this information, the pilot's cellphone was not in use as the time of the impact with the antenna tower.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Air Tractor
Registration: N6135P
Model/Series: AT502 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: 10/14/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 8000 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Turbo Prop
Airframe Total Time: 9428 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Pratt & Whitney Canada
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: PT6A-34AG
Registered Owner: Coastal Flying Service Inc
Rated Power: 750 hp
Operator:  Coastal Flying Service Inc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural Aircraft (137)
Operator Does Business As: Coastal Flying Service Inc.
Operator Designator Code: 9CRG

The airplane was issued a restricted category special airworthiness certificate in February 1995. The operator purchased the airplane in March 2011. The most recent annual inspection was completed on October 14, 2017, at which time, the airframe had accumulated 9,428 hours total time in service. The annual inspection maintenance logbook entry included the notation, "recovered aircraft after off field landing due to prop strike." It also noted that both wings were repaired, and the left horizontal stabilizer and elevator assemblies were replaced. An overhauled engine and a new propeller assembly were installed at that time. An engine inspection was conducted on August 1, 2018, and about 248 hours had accumulated since installation/annual inspection.



Amy and Wesley Fojtik and their son, Cort. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: VCT, 115 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1851 CDT
Direction from Accident Site: 325°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 3500 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 6 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: 130°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting: 29.86 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 27°C / 22°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Ganado, TX (PVT)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Ganado, TX (PVT)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1730 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

A representative of the operator recalled that it was clear with an east-southeast wind of about 10 knots at the time of the accident flight; a "beautiful day." A witness recalled that weather was sunny and partly cloudy, with no restrictions to visibility.

At the time of the accident, the sun was positioned about 6° above the horizon, at an azimuth of 258° (west-southwest). Sunset occurred at 1901.

Airport Information

Airport: Private (PVT)
Runway Surface Type: Grass/turf; Gravel
Airport Elevation: 57 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 18
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 2100 ft / 50 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: In-Flight
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 28.705833, -96.804444 

The accident site was located about 700 ft west-southwest of the antenna. The airplane came to rest adjacent to a two-lane paved roadway. The main wreckage consisted of the fuselage, wings, and empennage. A section of the antenna tower structure was intertwined with the right wing. The fuselage nose section, including the firewall and engine, had separated and were located in a roadway ditch about 25 ft east of the main wreckage. The propeller had separated from the engine. It came to rest in a ditch on the opposite side of the road about 125 ft west of the main wreckage. The outboard right wing and right horizontal stabilizer were separated and located at the accident site.

A postaccident airplane examination did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction. A detailed summary of the examination is included in the docket associated with the investigation.

Documentation obtained from the Federal Communications Commission revealed that the antenna tower involved in the accident was constructed in January 1992. The overall height of the tower was 118.6 meters (389.1 ft) above ground level (agl); 132.9 meters (436.0 ft) above mean sea level. The tower was painted with alternating bands of aviation orange and white. It was also equipped with flashing red obstruction lights. The top-mounted light could not be evaluated to determine if it was operational because the upper section of the tower had separated during the accident. The intermediate level light was operational after the accident.

FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 70/7460-1L recommended standards for marking and lighting obstructions that have been deemed a hazard to air navigation. The AC noted that any structure exceeding 200 ft agl should be marked and/or lighted. Communications towers should be painted with a pattern of alternate bands of aviation orange and white for recognition during day lighting conditions. Flashing red or white obstruction lights should be used for recognition during night lighting conditions.

A review of the Houston sectional chart current at the time of the accident revealed that the antenna tower involved was accurately depicted. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The Travis County Medical Examiner's Office in Austin, Texas, performed an autopsy of the pilot on October 15, 2018. The pilot's death was attributed to blunt force injuries sustained in the accident. Toxicology testing performed at the FAA Forensic Sciences Laboratory was negative for all drugs in the testing profile.

Organizational And Management Information

The operator had been issued an FAA operating certificate and operations specification for agricultural aircraft operations under Title 14 CFR Part 137. An Air Tractor AT-402A airplane was also included on the certificate. The pilot was listed as the chief supervisor and point-of-contact for the operator.

Location: Placedo, TX
Accident Number: CEN19FA003
Date & Time: 10/12/2018, 1841 CDT
Registration: N6135P
Aircraft: Air Tractor AT502
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural 

On October 12, 2018, at 1841 central daylight time, an Air Tractor AT-502B airplane, N6135P, impacted an antenna tower near Placedo, Texas. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postimpact fire. The airplane was registered to and operated by Coastal Flying Service Inc., Ganado, Texas, as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 aerial application flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight originated from the operator's private airstrip near Ganado, Texas, about 1730.

A representative of the operator stated that during the accident flight, the pilot was applying herbicide to a pasture about one-half mile east of the antenna tower. The pilot had reviewed the area online before the flight and was aware of the presence of the tower.

A witness reported that he heard the airplane fly over and impact the antenna tower. He looked out of a window and observed the airplane "fall from the sky." The airplane was on fire as it descended after striking the tower.

The accident site was located about 700 ft west-southwest of the radio antenna tower adjacent to a two-lane paved roadway. The main wreckage consisted of the fuselage, wings and empennage, with exception of the right horizontal stabilizer. A section of the antenna tower structure was intertwined with the right wing. The fuselage nose section, including the engine assembly, was separated and located near the main wreckage. The propeller had separated and was located on the opposite side of the road. The left horizontal stabilizer was partially separated. The right horizontal stabilizer was separated and located in the debris path. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Air Tractor
Registration: N6135P
Model/Series: AT502 B
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Coastal Flying Service Inc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural Aircraft (137)
Operator Does Business As:
Operator Designator Code: 9CRG

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: VCT, 115 ft msl
Observation Time: 1851 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 27°C / 22°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 3500 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 130°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.86 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Ganado, TX (PVT)
Destination: Ganado, TX (PVT) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: In-Flight
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 28.705833, -96.804444


Amy and Wesley Fojtik and their son, Cort. 

Wesley Jerome Fojtik’s passions were his family, God and being a pilot, friends said Sunday.

Fojtik, 40, of Edna, was flying a crop duster when he crashed into an antenna tower in the 6600 block of Farm-to-Market Road 616 east of Placedo about 6:30 p.m. Friday. He died in the crash, which the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

“He loves the Lord, and it was important for him to have his family serve God,” said Cricia Ryan, 29, of El Campo. “He was a man that worked hard. Full of life. The most selfless person that I knew. He’d do anything for anyone. He was quiet but strong-willed and always friendly.”

Fojtik was flying an Air Tractor AT-502B owned by Coastal Flying Service, Inc., according to the Federal Aviation Administration registry. Fojtik was the only passenger. National Transportation Safety Board officials moved the plane to a secure facility for further examination Sunday.

Those who work in agriculture aviation are close-knit, said Ryan, who has known Fojtik and his family for three years. Fojtik left behind his wife, Amy Fojtik, and 6-year-old son, Cort.

Ryan said when a pilot is flying a plane, especially in agriculture aviation, there is no room for errors, and one error can end a pilot’s life.

“In our industry, obstacles in the air space are extremely dangerous to us, and Wesley’s incident happened with a tower,” she said. “I’m sure it’s marked to (Federal Aviation Administration) guidelines, but that still does not make it visible to ag pilots.”

Ryan’s family owns an aviation agriculture service in the Crossroads, and her brother was injured during a plane crash in May 2017 in El Campo because of engine failure. During his recovery, the agriculture industry came together to help pay his medical expenses. The Fojtik family participated in all six events to raise funds.

“Our industry lost one of the best,” she said. “His wife is one of the most amazing people that I know, and their little boy is a spitting image of his dad. He loves planes like his dad, loves life and loves being outdoors.”

Mike Thompson, 59, of Garwood, also owns an agriculture aviation service in his community. He met Fojtik about 12 years ago and had been friends with him since then.

Earlier this year, Fojtik helped Thompson with no hesitation when his company was in a bind during a crucial time for rice farmers to have their crops sprayed and fertilized.

“He came and helped me with my customers and with my competition’s customers that were dumped on us,” he said. “We were overwhelmed with work, and he helped us get it done. He came every morning, and he would say, ‘I’m prayed up and fueled up. Let’s go to work.’”

Thompson said he’s most thankful to God for sharing Fojtik with everyone who loved him.

“He’s a good man, and he’s a good daddy,” he said. “Christians know for a fact we’re going to see him tomorrow, and he’s going to turn around and be grinning.”

Original article ➤  https://www.victoriaadvocate.com

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

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

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


Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf 

http://registry.faa.gov/N6135P

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

Analysis


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. 

Findings

Aircraft
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

Maneuvering
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
Registered Owner: COASTAL FLYING SERVICE INC
Rated Power: 750 hp
Operator: COASTAL FLYING SERVICE INC
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 http://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-alerts/documents/SA_035.pdf 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).

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

certainly a bold pilot. RIP, peace to wife and son.

Anonymous said...

Dangerous job!

Anonymous said...

It appears Mr. Fojtik hit a tower while flying this same airplane back in july of 2017, he was not hurt in that accident. Terrible situation.

Amy Fojtik said...

I am Amy Fojtik, Wesley's wife. To the poster above on 10/17/18, yes, this is the same airplane. He called me as he was walking out of the corn field that day. I expected no different this time. Today is 84 days since my husband and our son's daddy flew to Heaven. We are heartbroken, but we continue to live because that is how we honor such a good man. If you didn't know my Wesley, I pray that you know someone just like him because what a blessing that would be in your life. Please continue to pray for our family, Wesley included. We know we'll be with him in Heaven one day.