Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Air Tractor AT-502, N7314D: Fatal accident occurred April 09, 2019 in Harlingen, Cameron County, Texas

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; Olney, Texas
Pratt & Whitney Canada; Bridgeport, West Virginia
Transportation Safety Board of Canada

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


Location: Harlingen, TX
Accident Number: CEN19FA117
Date & Time: 04/09/2019, 1033 CDT
Registration: N7314D
Aircraft: Air Tractor AT 502
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural 

On April 9, 2019, about 1033 central daylight time, an Air Tractor AT-502 airplane, N7314D, collided with high-voltage power transmission lines and terrain while maneuvering at a low altitude near Harlingen, Texas. The commercial pilot was fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed during impact and a postimpact fire. The airplane was owned by the pilot and operated by Rowland Dusters under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 137 without a flight plan. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site. The local agricultural application flight departed a private airstrip, near Raymondville, Texas, about 1005.

The purpose of the flight was to spray pesticide over a cultivated cotton field. A witness reported that she was driving northbound on Highway 77 when she observed the airplane flying to the west, at a low altitude, when it collided with power transmission lines. She observed numerous sparks when the airplane collided with the power transmission lines and an explosion upon impact with the ground.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the 77-year-old pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for single and multiengine land airplanes. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on March 27, 2019, with a limitation for corrective lenses. On his application for the medical certificate, the pilot reported having accumulated 25,000 total hours of flight experience, of which 200 hours were flown within the previous 6 months. A search of FAA records showed no previous accidents, incidents, or enforcement proceedings. The pilot's flight history was established using his logbook. The final logbook entry was for a flight review dated March 24, 2016, at which time he had accumulated 27,411 total hours of flight experience.

The airplane, serial number 502-0003, was powered by a 680 shaft-horsepower Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-15AG turbo-propeller engine, serial number PCE-14143, which drove a three-blade, constant-speed, full-feathering, Hartzell HC-B3TN-3D propeller, serial number BUA30488. 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 8,000 pounds. The airplane was issued a restricted category airworthiness certificate on June 26, 1987. The airplane's hour meter was destroyed during the postimpact fire, which precluded a determination of the airplane's total service time at the time of the accident. The last annual inspection of the airplane was completed on April 1, 2018, at 10,822.8 total airframe hours. At the last annual inspection, the engine had accumulated 9,762.6 total hours since new. A postaccident review of the maintenance records found no history of unresolved airworthiness issues. The operator reported that the airplane departed with 170 gallons of Jet-A fuel on board and 75 gallons of Malathion pesticide.

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 Rio Grande Valley International Airport (HRL), Searcy, Arkansas, about 8 miles east-southeast of the accident site. At 1052, about 19 minutes after the accident, the HRL automated surface observing system reported wind 190° magnetic at 15 knots, a clear sky, 10 miles surface visibility, temperature 28°C, dew point 14°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.97 inches of mercury.

The accident site was in a newly planted cotton field, which was the intended field to be sprayed during the flight. The airplane impacted two, 1.108 inch diameter, 345 kilovolt power transmission lines that were strung between two 136 ft tall structures along the eastern border of the field. The airplane subsequently impacted the field about 200 ft west of the powerlines. A fan-shaped wreckage debris field extended about 100 ft from the initial ground impact. The overall distribution of the wreckage was consistent with the airplane traveling west-northwest when it impacted the ground. Red navigation lens material, from the left wingtip, was found at the initial impact with the ground. The main wreckage consisted of the fuselage, empennage, right wing, engine, and propeller. The main wreckage exhibited evidence of a prolonged postimpact ground fire. All airframe structural components and flight control surfaces were identified at the accident site. 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 left wing was highly fragmented during impact. The forward face of the left main wing spar exhibited broad vertical marks 3 ft to 6 ft from the airplane centerline. The observed marks were consistent with contact with a large diameter electric transmission cable. There were two transmission cables conjoined with the main wreckage; one wrapped around the engine and propeller shaft, and the other wrapped around the wing carry-through structure and fuselage. The right wing was largely intact with fire damage to the inboard portion of the wing. There was no evidence of a wire strike on the leading edge of the right wing, horizontal stabilizer, or vertical stabilizer. The fuselage was found upright with significant fire damage. The preimpact position of the powerplant control levers could not be determined due to the deformation and fire damage to the cockpit. Engine control continuity could not be established due to impact and fire damage. The engine remained attached to the fuselage mounts. The inlet case struts were fractured during impact and the accessory gearbox had separated from the engine except for external lines and cables. The 1st stage compressor blades exhibited a tip rub and ingested dirt and organic matter. The engine had separated at the C flange. The downstream side of the compressor turbine disc and blades exhibited rotational scoring from contact with the power turbine vane and baffle. A majority of the power turbine blades had separated from the disc. Several power turbine blade roots and tips were found preceding the main wreckage in the debris field. The remaining turbine blades were displaced forward in the disc and were fractured close to midspan of the airfoil. The disc and blades exhibited rotational scoring on the upstream side from contact with the power turbine baffle and vane. The downstream side of the power turbine blades and disc exhibited rotational scoring from contact with the exhaust duct. The chip detector was removed, and no magnetic debris was observed. The propeller remained attached to the engine. The three propeller blades remained attached to the hub and exhibited spanwise twisting. Two blades segmented during the impact sequence and one blade remained intact with leading and trailing edge gouging near the blade tip. The intact blade also exhibited minor chordwise scratches about midspan. The postaccident examination did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation of the airplane before it collided with the high-voltage power transmission lines.

The airplane was equipped with a Satloc G4 agricultural GPS system that provided guidance and analysis for agricultural application operations. The system's non-volatile memory was successfully downloaded using a surrogate airplane. The recovered data did not include continuous position information for the flight; the system was configured to only record limited position data while the pilot depressed the spray trigger. Further review of the recovered data established that the pilot had sprayed one field before the accident. The system did not record any position data near the accident site.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Air Tractor
Registration: N7314D
Model/Series: AT 502
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Rowland Dusters
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural Aircraft (137)
Operator Does Business As:
Operator Designator Code: ZBPG 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: HRL, 36 ft msl
Observation Time: 1052 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C / 14°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 15 knots / , 190°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.97 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Raymondville, TX (PVT)
Destination: Raymondville, TX (PVT)

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: In-Flight and On-Ground
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 26.292500, -97.765000

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov.

Bennard S. Rowland II 
1941 - 2019 

Lasara - On Tuesday, April 9, 2019 Bennard Strauss Rowland II, of La Sara, Texas went on to be with his parents Bennard and Verna Mae Rowland and his sister Billie and brother Otis "Dump" Rowland. 

Ben was born on May 20, 1941 in Natchez, Mississippi and moved to LaSara, where his father started Rowland Dusters in 1946. He was a loving father and had many passions in his life; including horses, cars, cats and most of all, flying. He "officially" began flying in 1962 at age 20, but everyone knows that he began "practicing" at more like 13 or 14. In a career that lasted for over 50 years, and 30,000 flight hours, there isn't much he didn't or couldn't do in an airplane. From fighting fires in Mexico, flying fisherman to beachside resorts or flying his beloved Air Tractor 502, he was truly at home in an airplane. He took his fathers company from the days of dusting to a modern fleet of turbine powered GPS equipped ag-planes. He was one of the few pilots that had started in the dust era that was still flying today, and he took great pride in that fact. Ben was also a long time farmer in both Willacy and Hidalgo counties, growing row crops and some of the best and sweetest watermelons. He was a long time member of the Texas Agricultural Aviation Association and in 1989 was recognized as its Operator of the Year. He served on committees and boards throughout his life, including the Engleman Irrigation District, where he served as a director for many years. Though he is gone, he leaves behind a legacy of hard work and determination, and a family tradition that loves both the land and the air as much as he did. 

He is survived by his wife Barbara, sisters Cissie Watson (Harland) and Sue Damstrom (Walden); children Bobette Sandy (Jim), Benajeane Rowland Jones, Bennard Strauss Rowland III, Blayne Rowland (Gina), Boyd Rowland (Kimberly), and Baden Rowland (Peggy). Ben was also blessed with 17 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews, including a rowdy bunch of Cajuns from South Louisiana that always held a special place in his heart. Honored to serve as pall bearers will be his grandsons: James and John Sandy, Curtis and Cameron Jones, AJ, Blake, Tyler, Wyatt, Tony, Luke, Mathew and Bryce Rowland, and Evan Riley.

He will be greatly missed and forever loved. 

Visitation will be Friday evening, April 12 from 6 to 8:00 PM at Duddlesten Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held on Saturday at 10:00 AM at the First Baptist Church, 301 N. 5th, Raymondville. 

In lieu of flowers please make a donation to the Alzheimer's Association, 3649 Leopard St., Suite 403, Corpus Christi, TX 78408 or to a charity of your choice. Our family has been overwhelmed by the sheer number of people reaching out and offering everything from sympathy and food, to airplanes and pilots. We deeply appreciate it all.

Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Duddlesten Funeral Home, 604 W. Hidalgo Ave., Raymondville, Texas.

NEAR HARLINGEN – A well-known pilot and businessman from La Sara was identified as the victim of a fatal crash that happened near Harlingen Tuesday morning.

Bennard S. Rowland II, 77, was piloting a Air Tractor AT-502, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The cropduster aircraft struck a power line around 10:45 a.m. near the intersection of US-77 and Orphanage Road.

The plane was engulfed in flames, but first responders were able to put it out.

The pilot was the only occupant onboard, but harmful chemicals were also in the aircraft. 

Sgt. Maria Montalvo with the Texas Department of Public Safety said, "The scene is being secured we do have other personnel responding to the scene to secure the chemicals that were spilled. We're also having the light company to the scene, as well."

Cameron County Emergency Officials said the Federal Aviation Administration, TCEQ,and the Texas Department of Agriculture were notified of the incident.

The FAA said they will be working to release the tail number after investigators verify it.

The NTSB is sending an investigator the the scene Wednesday.

They will be examining the aircraft and documenting the scene.

A preliminary report will be posted about ten days after the fact-finding mission.

It will provide more information, however, the cause of the accident will be addressed in the final report that can take between 12 and 18 months to finalize.

Story and video: https://www.krgv.com

A Lasara man was the pilot who was killed when his crop duster crashed in a farm field in northwestern Cameron County Tuesday morning.

The Department of Public Safety has identified him as 77-year-old Bennard S. Rowland II.

The plane went down just west of I-69E near Orphanage Road at around 10:45.

An FAA spokesman says the plane, an Air Tractor 502, struck some power lines just before it slammed into the ground. 

The Federal Aviation Administration continues to investigate.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.kurv.com


  1. Are there any retired crop duster pilots?


  2. Cropdusters don't retire they fall off the wing.