Monday, April 29, 2019

Low Altitude Operation / Event: Air Tractor Inc AT-602, N602AM, accident occurred April 28, 2019 in Quanah, Hardeman County, Texas

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Lubbock, Texas

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office;

Location: Quanah, TX
Accident Number: CEN19TA131
Date & Time: 04/28/2019, 1258 CDT
Registration: N602AM
Aircraft: Air Tractor AT 602
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Low altitude operation/event
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural 


The pilot was conducting aerial application passes parallel to a transmission power line. During the final trim pass, the pilot flew out of the field and over the power line. As he was passing over the power line, the propeller blades struck a wire that he did not see, and the engine lost power. The pilot indicated that he conducted a controlled "crash landing" about 1.5 miles away from the power line strike during which the airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage. The pilot further reported that "there was no malfunction prior to hitting the powerline."

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from the power line during a low altitude aerial application maneuver.


Personnel issues Monitoring environment - Pilot
Environmental issues Wire - Contributed to outcome

Factual Information

On April 28, 2019, about 1258 central daylight time, an Air Tractor Inc. AT-602 airplane, N602AM, impacted a powerline and subsequently impacted terrain near Quanah, Texas. The commercial pilot reported no injuries. The airplane sustained substantial fuselage damage during the impact with terrain. The airplane was registered to and operated by Buffalo Ridge Airspray LLC as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 aerial application flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area about the time of the accident, and the flight was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight originated from the Quanah Municipal Airport, near Quanah, Texas, about 1200.

The pilot reported that the airplane was loaded up to spray 200 acres north west of Quanah, Texas, where the wind was from the east northeast about 7 to 9 mph. However, local wind at a nearby airport was 130° at 5 kts. The aerial application passes were conducted east to west, paralleling a transmission powerline. The flight was uneventful for the entire load. Before departing the field location, the pilot performed two "clean up" passes along the west boundary of the field flying from the south to the north. The first north bound heading trim pass was successful. The pilot flew the airplane to the south end of the field to initiate the second and final trim pass. As the pilot flew out of the field over the powerline, he thought the airplane had cleared the powerline. He subsequently thought the propeller blades struck the wire that he did not see and the engine lost power. The pilot conducted the "proper emergency steps such as fuel, feather the prop, and trim the aircraft." He then performed a controlled "crash landing," next to the wheat field he was trying to land in, about 1.5 miles away from the powerline strike. The pilot further reported that "there was no malfunction prior to hitting the powerline."

The pilot's safety recommendation stated, "Avoid the powerline entirely by leaving off the "clean up" passes along the west boundary of my field. I could have waited for a south wind to help get my spray under the wire and around the northwest corner of the application area, instead of making the extra "clean up" passes towards the wire."

History of Flight

Maneuvering-low-alt flying Low altitude operation/event (Defining event)
Emergency descent Off-field or emergency landing
Landing Hard landing

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 25, 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: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 04/10/2019
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 08/28/2018
Flight Time:   1306 hours (Total, all aircraft), 23 hours (Total, this make and model), 1262 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 50 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 35 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 8 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Air Tractor
Registration: N602AM
Model/Series: AT 602 No Series
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1997
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Restricted
Serial Number: 602-0408
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 12/15/2018,
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 12500 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 
Engines: 1 Turbo Prop
Airframe Total Time: 9582 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Pratt & Whitney
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: PT6A-60AG
Registered Owner: Buffalo Ridge Airspray Llc
Rated Power: 1050 hp
Operator: Buffalo Ridge Airspray Llc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural Aircraft (137)
Operator Does Business As:
Operator Designator Code: 46JG 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KCDS, 1951 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 27 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1201 CDT
Direction from Accident Site: 289°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 2300 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 5 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 130°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 29.89 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C / 14°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Quanah, TX (F01)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Quanah, TX (F01)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1200 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: 34.363333, -99.900833 (est)

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