Thursday, March 7, 2019

Rockwell S-2R Thrush Commander, operated by Farm Aviation Inc under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 as an aerial application flight, N5022X, fatal accident occurred August 22, 2017 in Calipatria, Imperial County, California -and- Rockwell International S-2R, N4913X, accident occurred August 01, 2017 in Brawley, Imperial County, California

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Diego, California
Farm Aviation Incorporated; Brawley, California

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/N5022X 



Location: Calipatria, CA
Accident Number: ANC17FA047
Date & Time: 08/22/2017, 1100 PDT
Registration: N5022X
Aircraft: ROCKWELL INTERNATIONAL S 2R
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Unknown or undetermined
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural 

On August 22, 2017, about 1100 Pacific daylight time, a Rockwell International S2R agricultural airplane, N5022X, was destroyed by a collision with terrain and postcrash fire about 8.5 miles east of Calipatria, California. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to the Bank of Utah and was being operated by Farm Aviation, Inc., under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the aerial application flight. The local flight originated about 1050 from an unimproved dirt airstrip about 4 miles from the accident location.

The accident flight was the pilot's second chemical load flight of the day. The first flight originated from Brawley Municipal Airport (KBWC), Brawley, California, about 1020.

According to a witness located about 100 yards from the accident location, the airplane completed an agricultural spray pass from west to east. As the airplane approached the witness's position, it began a turn to reverse course and re-enter the spray area. Following a slight right turn, the airplane rolled wings level, and the witness anticipated that it would enter a left turn back to the field. When the wings were rolled level, at an estimated altitude of between 150 ft above ground level (agl) and 200 ft agl, the nose dropped, and the airplane impacted the field in near vertical attitude. A postimpact fire ensued, which consumed most of the airplane's fuselage, left wing, and empennage.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 40, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Single
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 None
Last FAA Medical Exam: 04/01/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 

The pilot, age 40, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single- and multi-engine land and instrument ratings. The pilot also held a flight instructor certificate with airplane single-engine and instrument ratings. The pilot was issued a second-class airman medical certificate on April 26, 2017, without any limitations. On the application for this medical certificate, the pilot reported that he had accumulated 2,210 total hours of flight experience of which 280 hours were in the last 6 months.

The pilot was involved in an aviation accident (WPR17LA174) in a different agricultural airplane on August 1, 2017; this accident is still under investigation. According to the preliminary report on the earlier accident, the pilot reported that shortly after takeoff, while conducting a low-altitude reconnaissance of a field, the engine started to lose power. The pilot subsequently initiated a forced landing to the field. The airplane sustained substantial damage, and the pilot was not injured.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: ROCKWELL INTERNATIONAL
Registration: N5022X
Model/Series: S 2R
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1975
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Restricted
Serial Number: 5054R
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection:
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 
Engine Manufacturer: Pratt & Whitney
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: R1340
Registered Owner: BANK OF UTAH TRUSTEE
Rated Power:
Operator: FARM AVIATION INC
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural Aircraft (137)
Operator Does Business As:
Operator Designator Code: FAYG 

The single-seat, low-wing airplane, serial number 5054R, was manufactured in 1975. It was powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-1340-59 reciprocating radial engine, serial number E-142. The overhauled engine was installed on February 24, 2017. According to the operator, the engine had accumulated about 75 hours at the time of the accident.

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KIPL, -58 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 20 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1053 PDT
Direction from Accident Site: 213°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility: 10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: Calm /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / Unknown
Wind Direction:
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / Unknown
Altimeter Setting: 29.89 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 37°C / 16°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Calipatria, CA
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Calipatria, CA
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1050 PDT
Type of Airspace: Class G 

The closest weather reporting facility to the accident site was at Imperial County Airport (KIPL), Imperial, California, about 20 miles southeast of the accident site. At 1053, KIPL reported wind calm, visibility 10 miles, sky clear, temperature 98°F; dew point 60°F, and altimeter setting 29.90 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: Unknown
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 33.114444, -115.365278 

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board examined the wreckage at the accident scene on August 23, 2017. The first identified point of contact (FIPC) was the engine, which was separated from the airframe and lying flat on the ground oriented propeller side down. A linear ground impact scar extended from both sides of the engine; the two ground scars contained yellow paint fragments and were consistent with wing leading edge imprints. The main wreckage was located about 20 ft north of the FIPC; the fuselage was inverted and oriented on a 263° magnetic heading.

Most of the empennage fabric was consumed by fire. The vertical stabilizer remained relatively free of impact damage. Elevator trim tab control continuity was established from the cockpit controls to the trim tab. Rudder control continuity was established from the rudder to the fuselage. The left rudder cable remained intact to the pedal, and the right cable was detached at the bellcrank. Elevator control continuity could not be determined on scene due to impact damage.

The outboard and inboard connecting rods on the left aileron remained attached to the left wing. The middle control rods were detached from the aileron. Left aileron control continuity could not be determined due to thermal damage. The right aileron remained relatively free of impact damage and exhibited signatures consistent with thermal damage. Control continuity was established from the right aileron to the fuselage. Right aileron control continuity from the fuselage to the cockpit could not be established due to thermal damage.

All three propeller blades remained intact and attached to the propeller hub and was buried about 1ft under dirt and grass. Blades 1 and 2 (numbers arbitrarily assigned) exhibited torsional twisting and aft bending, consistent with engine operation at the time of impact. Blade 3 was relatively free of impact damage.

Investigators conducted further examination of the wreckage at Air Transport, Phoenix, Arizona, on October 4 and 5, 2017. The last 4 ft of elevator control tube continuity was established through fractured segments. The fractures were consistent with impact damage.

The propeller rotated freely by hand. The forward spark plugs from the Nos. 1, 8, and 9 cylinders were damaged by impact. The forward spark plugs were removed from all cylinders and exhibited a normal wear signature; coloration could not be determined due to oil saturation. Thumb compression was obtained on all cylinders. The carburetor exhibited impact damage. The throttle valve could be moved from stop to stop with difficulty due to the presence of debris from impact. The carburetor case was opened, and no anomalies were observed with the floats and accelerator pump. The fuel filter was removed, and no anomalies were observed. The fuel pump fuel adjustment cover safety wire was separated, and the cap was loose. The fuel pump was disassembled with no debris or anomalies observed; all splines appeared without defect. Testing of the magnetos was not possible due to severe impact damage.

The electric flap motor drive screw measured about 1 1/4 inches and about 9 threads were visible. The jackscrew assembly was not located; therefore, the flap setting could not be determined.

Medical And Pathological Information

The Imperial County Coroner's Office, El Centro, California, conducted an autopsy of the pilot. The cause of death was attributed to "multiple traumatic injuries."

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing on specimens from the pilot. The testing was negative for ethanol and drugs.

NTSB Identification: ANC17FA047
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Tuesday, August 22, 2017 in Calipatria, CA
Aircraft: ROCKWELL INTERNATIONAL S 2R, registration: N5022X
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On August 22, 2017, about 1100 Pacific daylight time, a Rockwell International S2R agricultural airplane, N5022X, was destroyed when it collided with terrain following a loss of control while maneuvering, about 8.5 miles east of Calipatria, California. The airplane was registered to the Bank of Utah and was being operated by Farm Aviation Inc. as a visual flight rules (VFR) aerial application flight, under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137, when the accident occurred. The certificated commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated at an unimproved dirt strip, about 4 miles from the accident location, at about 1050 and was a local flight for aerial application.

According to the owner of Farm Aviation Inc., this was the pilot's second chemical load flight of the day. The first flight originated from Brawley Municipal Airport (KBWC), Brawley, California, about 1020.

According to a witness located about 100 yards from the accident location, the accident airplane completed an agricultural spray pass from west to east. As the airplane approached his position, the airplane began a right turn to turn around and re-enter the spray area. Following a slight right turn, the airplane rolled wings level before what would typically be a left turn back to the field. When the wings were rolled level, at an estimated altitude of between 150 ft above ground level (agl) and 200 ft agl, the nose dropped and the airplane impacted the field in near vertical attitude. A postimpact fire ensued, which incinerated a majority of the airplane's fuselage, left wing, and empennage. 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), along with another NTSB investigator reached the accident site on the afternoon of August 23. The wreckage was in an alfalfa field at an elevation of about 20 ft below sea level. 

Following the initial impact, the fuselage separated from the engine and came to rest about 20 ft north of the engine. The airplane impacted the terrain in a nose-down, near vertical attitude. All of the airplane's major components were located at the wreckage site. 

The closest weather reporting facility was the Imperial County Airport (KIPL), about 20 miles southeast of the accident site. At 1053, a METAR from KIPL was reporting, in part: Wind, calm; visibility, 10 statute miles; clouds and sky condition, clear; temperature, 98°F; dew point, 60°F; altimeter, 29.90 inches of mercury.

The airplane was equipped with a Pratt & Whitney R-1340 series engine. A detailed examination is pending.

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

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Diego, California


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/N4913X


Location: Brawley, CA

Accident Number: WPR17LA174
Date & Time: 08/01/2017, 0655 PDT
Registration: N4913X
Aircraft: ROCKWELL INTERNATIONAL S 2R
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Powerplant sys/comp malf/fail
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural 

On August 1, 2017, about 0655 Pacific daylight time, a Rockwell International S-2R airplane, N4913X, was substantially damaged following a partial loss of engine power and subsequent off-airport landing near Brawley, California. The commercial pilot was not injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Farm Aviation, Inc., under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 as an aerial application flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight and no flight plan was filed. The flight departed from a private airstrip in Brawley at 0645.


The pilot reported that he departed westbound from the private airstrip with about 180 gallons of chemical and 70 gallons of fuel on board. After climbout, he made a right turn to the east to conduct a low-level reconnaissance of the field he intended to spray. As he began to set up for the eastbound pass on the north side of the field, the engine started to lose power. The pilot leveled the wings, the engine momentarily regained some power, but started to lose power again shortly after. The pilot subsequently initiated an emergency landing to an open field. During the landing roll, the propeller struck the ground and the landing gear was torn off. Both wings, the engine mounts, and the bottom of the fuselage sustained substantial damage.


On October 3, 2017, the Pratt & Whitney R1340 radial engine was examined by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors. The inspectors reported that the engine was partially disassembled before their arrival. The inspectors reported that one of the supercharger drive gear teeth was separated and found in the engine oil sump. Further disassembly of the supercharger drive section revealed that two additional gear teeth were separated from the supercharger drive. Slight rubbing marks were observed on the supercharger impeller. The thrust bearing exhibited damage consistent after a propeller strike. The oil filter revealed signs of high carbon content and some debris with very little metallic content. Surface rust was noted on internal oil transfer tubes, the camshaft drive gear, and the supercharger drive gear. The spark plugs exhibited normal wear signatures. The inspectors further reported that the carburetor was visually inspected, and no foreign objects were observed in the venturi. The magnetos were externally examined before the gears were rotated by hand. No anomalies were found


The separated supercharger gear teeth were examined at the National Transportation Safety Board Materials (NTSB) laboratory, Washington, DC. The fracture surfaces were examined using a stereomicroscope at moderate magnifications. The fractures exhibited features and topographies consistent with bending overstress separations. Contact patterns and pitting were noted on the pressure faces of the remaining intact gear teeth indicative of heavy loading. No indication of preexisting cracking was apparent.


During a conversation with a representative from an engine overhaul facility, who commonly overhauls Pratt & Whitney R1340 radial engines, he reported that from his experience, the gear teeth most often break off due to either a sudden engine stoppage or due to fatigue or stress cracking. The fatigue or stress cracking can often be the result of a propeller strike and, if left unchecked, can result in the eventual separation of the affected gear teeth. He reported that it is possible for an engine to continue a relatively normal operation with only one gear tooth missing, however multiple broken teeth would result in a decrease in power of the supercharger section.


The pilot reported that the engine had accumulated about 783 hours since overhaul, and 74 hours since the last annual inspection on November 16, 2016. No maintenance records were made available for review to determine if there was a report of a previous propeller strike or sudden engine stoppage.


Pilot Information


Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial

Age: 40, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Single
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Multi-engine; Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 04/26/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 04/20/2017
Flight Time:  2400 hours (Total, all aircraft), 500 hours (Total, this make and model), 2280 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 60 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 24 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 5 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information


Aircraft Make: ROCKWELL INTERNATIONAL

Registration: N4913X
Model/Series: S 2R UNDESIGNATED
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1974
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Restricted
Serial Number: 2104R
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats:
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 11/16/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 6615 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Pratt & Whitney
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: R-1340- AN1
Registered Owner: Ironwood Equipment Leasing Inc
Rated Power: 600 hp
Operator: On file
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: KIPL, -58 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 14 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1353 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 208°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 5 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 50°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 29.78 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 31°C / 23°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Brawley, CA
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Brawley, CA
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0645 PDT
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:  33.033611, -115.453056 (est)

NTSB Identification: WPR17LA174

14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Tuesday, August 01, 2017 in Brawley, CA
Aircraft: ROCKWELL INTERNATIONAL S 2R, registration: N4913X
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 August 1, 2017, about 0655 Pacific daylight time, a Rockwell International S2R, N4913X, sustained substantial damage following a partial loss of engine power and subsequent emergency landing near Fresno, California. The airplane was registered to and operated by Farm Aviation Inc., under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 137 as an aerial application flight. The pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight which operated without a flight plan. The local flight departed from a private airstrip at 0645.


The pilot reported that shortly after takeoff, while conducting a low-level altitude reconnaissance of the field, the engine started to lose power. The pilot subsequently initiated a forced landing to the field. During the landing, both wings and the engine firewall sustained substantial damage.

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