Saturday, November 10, 2018

Thrush S2R-T660, registered to Arnt Aerial Spraying Inc and operated by the company, N40499: Fatal accident occurred August 19, 2016 in Ruthton, Pipestone County, Minnesota

James Robert Arnt 
February 18, 1948 - August 19, 2016

Jim Arnt was born to Henrietta and James Arnt on February 18, 1948 in Tracy, Minnesota. He graduated from Tracy High School in 1966 and enlisted in the United States Navy. After discharging from the Navy in 1969 for family reasons, Jim began flight training in Tracy, Minnesota. He continued as a flight instructor and moved to Florida to learn more about aerial spraying. In 1972, Jim founded Arnt Aerial Spraying in Worthington, Minnesota with the help of his dear friend, Bill Miller.  Jim's business prospered for 44 years until he passed away on August 19, 2016 at the age of 68. Over the years, Jim logged over 16,000 hours of flight. Jim was an active member of St. Matthew Lutheran church where he served as an elder for many years. Jim devoted his life to his family and treasured flying for over 45 years. 

Many who met Jim witnessed his integrity and honesty. In every avenue of his life, he daily asked God for wisdom and strength to make the right choices for his business and family. He was truly a gift from God. He always was positive that God was his copilot and took control many times to watch over him. Now, we can be assured the two best pilots are flying high together in heaven. 

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Minneapolis, Minnesota

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/N40499



Location: Ruthton, MN
Accident Number: CEN16LA326
Date & Time: 08/19/2016, 0807 CDT
Registration: N40499
Aircraft: THRUSH AIRCRAFT INC S2R T660
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Low altitude operation/event
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural 

On August 19, 2016, at 0807 central daylight time, a Thrush S2R-T660 agricultural airplane, N40499, was destroyed when it impacted a tower guy-wire and the ground during aerial spraying operations near Ruthton, Minnesota. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to Arnt Aerial Spraying, Inc., and it was operated by the company under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 137 as an aerial application flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and a flight plan was not filed. The local flight originated from Worthington Municipal Airport (OTG), Worthington, Minnesota, at 0651.

A Satloc agricultural aerial guidance system that included a GPS receiver was installed on the airplane. Review of the downloaded flight track data from the Satloc system showed that the airplane departed OTG, flew about 50 miles to the northwest, and sprayed a field about 1.5 miles west of the accident site. At 0749, the airplane flew from the first field to the field where the accident occurred. The airplane made 16 spray passes over that field in a north-south direction using a race-track type pattern. Several of those passes were near a tower located near the southwest corner of the field. During three of the passes to the north, the airplane passed over the tower before descending into the field. After the 16th pass, which was conducted on a northerly heading, the airplane made a 270° right turn to a westerly heading for a perimeter spray pass along the northern border of the field. After completing the perimeter pass, the airplane began a left turn. The final data point was recorded at 0807:48 and showed the airplane located about 0.75 mile and 300° from the accident site. The tower that was struck was located about 600 ft. west of the accident site. The final recorded location and flight path were consistent with a turn for a perimeter pass along the south border of the field.

The manufacturer reported that the Satloc unit buffered data before saving the data to non-volatile memory and that the amount of buffered data depends on the update rate and the available memory.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 68, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Single
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 04/26/2016
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 04/08/2015
Flight Time:  16791 hours (Total, all aircraft)

The pilot, age 68, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single- and multi-engine land, and instrument airplane ratings. He also held a flight instructor certificate with an airplane single-engine rating. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class medical certificate was issued on April 26, 2016, with a limitation to wear corrective lenses when exercising the privileges of his airman certificate.

The pilot's logbook was reviewed; he did not record each individual flight, and no entries for 2016 were recorded. The most recent logbook entry had a note "2015 spray season" and listed 16,791 hours total flight experience. This was the same flight experience that the pilot reported at the time of his most recent medical examination. Records indicated that the pilot's most recent flight review was conducted on April 8, 2015. 



Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: THRUSH AIRCRAFT INC
Registration: N40499
Model/Series: S2R T660 T660
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2005
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Restricted
Serial Number: T660-113
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 04/12/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: Turbo Prop
Airframe Total Time:  4042 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Pratt & Whitney
ELT:
Engine Model/Series: PT6A-65AG
Registered Owner: ARNT AERIAL SPRAYING INC
Rated Power: 1300 hp
Operator: ARNT AERIAL APPLICATION
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural Aircraft (137)
Operator Does Business As:
Operator Designator Code: PUJG

The 2005-model-year airplane, serial number T660-113, had fixed conventional (tailwheel) landing gear, provisions for one occupant, and was intended for use as an agricultural spray platform. It was powered by a 1,220-horsepower Pratt & Whitney PT6A-65AG turboprop engine, serial number PCE32627, driving a 5-blade, constant-speed Hartzell HC-B5MP-3F propeller, serial number EVA2873.

The airplane maintenance records indicated that the most recent annual inspection was completed on April 12, 2016, at an airframe total time of 4,042 hours. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PQN, 1736 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 16 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1301 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 215°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 2400 ft agl
Visibility: 10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 3400 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 2 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 290°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 29.94 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C / 18°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Worthington, MN (OTG)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Worthington, MN (OTG)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0651 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G 

At 0901, the weather conditions recorded at Pipestone Municipal Airport, Pipestone, Minnesota, located about 16 miles southwest of the accident site, included wind from 290° at 2 knots, visibility 10 miles, scattered clouds at 2,400 ft above ground level (agl), overcast clouds at 3,400 ft agl, temperature 19°C, dew point 18°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.69 inches of mercury.

According to data from the U.S. Naval Observatory's Astronomical Applications Department, at 0810, the sun was 16.3° above the horizon and 88.1° east of north. 



Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 44.217222, -96.077222 

The airplane came to rest facing east in a nose-down attitude about 600 ft east of a tower that was estimated to be about 200 ft tall. The tail section of the airplane was completely separated and was located near the main wreckage. The flight control cables within the tail section had separated, and the breaks were consistent with overload failures. The wings remained attached to the fuselage. The left aileron remained attached to the left wing. The right aileron was separated from the wing and was located near the main wreckage. A portion of a tower guy-wire cable was found wrapped around the right wing. The cable portion started about 3 ft from the wing root and extended along the wing's bottom surface to about 7 ft from the wing root where it wrapped around the wing leading edge. The cable loosely wrapped back over the wing trailing edge and under the fuselage. An 8-ft section of the tower, with guy-wire cables still attached, was found about 30 to 40 ft east of the airplane.

The propeller assembly separated and was located about 400 ft and 120° from the main wreckage. Four propeller blades remained attached to the propeller hub, and one blade had separated. The separated blade was found about 370 ft and 310° from the main wreckage about 6 weeks after the accident by the farmer during crop harvesting. Several of the blades that remained attached to the hub exhibited leading edge scratching and scoring consistent with impact with a foreign object during rotation. The separated blade recovered by the farmer was damaged by farm equipment during crop harvesting.

Examination of the airplane did not reveal any anomalies that could be attributed to a preimpact mechanical deficiency. 



Medical And Pathological Information

The pilot had reported a history of hypertension to the FAA and on his last medical certificate application reported using a combination of amlodipine and benazepril for treatment. Both of these blood pressure medications are not considered impairing. No significant abnormalities were identified during his physical exam.

The Ramsey County Medical Examiner, Saint Paul, Minnesota, performed an autopsy of the pilot. The pilot's death was attributed to multiple traumatic injuries.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing that was negative for all tested-for substances. The lab was unable to test for any evidence of exposure to the pesticide agents being sprayed by the pilot at the time of the crash, which were lambda cyhalothrin and chloryrifos. 



Tests And Research

The tower location did not appear in the FAA Digital Obstacle File, nor was it depicted on the Omaha Sectional Aeronautical Chart that included the accident site location. The tower location was within the bounds of a windmill farm depicted on the Omaha Sectional Chart. The windmill farm was listed as having a top elevation of 2,380 ft above mean sea level (msl); the ground elevation at the accident site was about 1,900 ft msl.

Title 14 CFR Part 77, titled "Safe, Efficient Use, and Preservation of the Navigable Airspace," specifies the following information.

The requirements to provide notice to the FAA of certain proposed construction or the alteration of existing structures.
The standards used to determine obstructions to air navigation and navigational and communication facilities,
The process for aeronautical studies of obstructions to air navigation or navigational facilities to determine the effect on the safe and efficient use of navigable airspace, air navigation facilities, or equipment.
The process to petition the FAA for discretionary review of determinations, revisions, and extensions of determinations.
Title 14 CFR 77.9, "Construction or alteration requiring notice," states that any construction or alteration of a structure that is more than 200 ft agl requires notification of the FAA.

Title 14 CFR 77.17, "Obstruction Standards," stipulates the standards used to determine if an object is an obstruction to air navigation. The criteria used for determination includes a height of more than 499 ft agl in general or a height of 200 ft agl or more if within 3 miles of an airport.

The accident tower height was estimated to be about 200 ft agl, but the exact height was not determined during the investigation. There were no airports within 3 miles of the accident site.

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