Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Air Tractor Inc AT-502A, N713LA: Fatal accident occurred May 10, 2019 in Eagle Lake, Colorado County, Texas

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Houston, Texas
Air Tractor; Olney, Texas
Transportation Safety Board of Canada; Gatineau, QC
Pratt & Whitney Canada; Longueuil, QC

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


Location: Eagle Lake, TX
Accident Number: CEN19FA140
Date & Time: 05/11/2019, 0815 CDT
Registration: N713LA
Aircraft: Air Tractor AT502
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural 

On May 11, 2019, about 0815 central daylight time, an Air Tractor AT-502A airplane, N713LA, impacted a grass field while maneuvering about 6.35 miles southwest of Eagle Lake, Texas. The commercial pilot and sole occupant sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to a private individual and was operated by ANF Air Service, Inc. under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 137 as a visual flight rules aerial application flight. Day instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from a private airstrip near Garwood, Texas at 0745.

The pilot began conducting the aerial application operations after departing the airstrip. He contacted the operator in-flight and reported that he observed IMC, which consisted of low-level "fog." The pilot reported to the operator that he was going to return to the departure airstrip due to the IMC. After the pilot was unable to return to the departure airstrip, the pilot attempted to divert to the Eagle Lake Airport (ELA), Eagle Lake, Texas. No further communication was received by the operator from the pilot. After not hearing an update from the pilot, the operator was concerned about the pilot's status and first responders were contacted. First responders initiated a search of the area the pilot was operating in and the wreckage was discovered about 1030.

Two witnesses, who worked at the Alleyton Resource Company aggregate (sand and gravel) producing plant about ½ mile south of the accident site reported they heard an airplane operating the morning of the accident but not did see an airplane. The plant is located off County Road 79 and is to the east of the Colorado River. The first witness reported that he briefly heard an airplane flying between 0820 and 0830, but he heard no sounds of the airplane having problems. Shortly after hearing the airplane flying, he heard a "big thump" noise. He reported there was "lots of fog" in the area at the time and he estimated the "fog" was about 20 ft above ground level (agl). The second witness reported that he briefly heard an airplane flying between 0745 to 0810, but he heard no sounds of the airplane having problems. Shortly after hearing the airplane flying, he heard a "boom" noise. He reported there was "lots of fog" in the area at the time and he estimated the "fog" was about 65 ft agl. Below the "fog," both witnesses reported clear visibility. Both witnesses reported is normal to see "fog" present during the early mornings of the month of May.

On May 12, 2019 the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), two air safety investigators (ASI) from Air Tractor, and a field service representative from Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC) were escorted by the Colorado County (Texas) Sheriff's Department to the accident site. The accident site, about 155 ft above mean sea level, was located about 0.30 miles south and 0.60 miles east of the Colorado River in a remote, sparsely populated area. The accident site was located on private land in an open, flat, grass field that is used for ranching purposes. The trees in the vicinity of the accident site did not display any evidence of impact. There were no towers or power lines in the vicinity of the accident site.

The wreckage was highly fragmented as shown in Figure 1. A 20 ft long ground scar was found with a heading of 293°. At the westernmost point of the ground scar was a 15 ft long (east to west), 7 ft wide, and 3 ft deep impact crater. There was no evidence of a postimpact fire. The investigative team members documented the wreckage and accident site and conducted an examination of the airframe. During the examination, no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures were noted with the airframe. The wreckage was recovered and transported to a secure facility for a future examination of the engine. On May 29, 2019, the NTSB IIC and an ASI from PWC traveled to Lancaster, Texas for an examination of the engine. During the examination, no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures were noted with the engine.

Figure 1. View of the accident site.

A Garmin Aera 560 global positioning system (GPS) unit and a SATLOC M3 GPS unit were recovered from the wreckage. The two electronic items were secured and transported to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Laboratory in Washington, District of Columbia, for an examination and data download.

The single-seat capacity airplane, serial number 502A-0177, was manufactured in 1992. The airplane was equipped with a PWC PT6A-45R turbine engine, serial number PC-E 84008. The airplane had a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) restricted category special airworthiness certificate for flight operations, as the airplane was type certificated by the FAA in the restricted category. The airplane was equipped with an inclinometer (slip indicator). The airplane was not equipped with any of the other instruments required for instrument flight such as a gyroscopic rate-of-turn indicator, a gyroscopic pitch and bank indicator (artificial horizon), or a gyroscopic direction indicator (directional gyro), nor was it required to be. The airplane was not equipped with a transponder or an emergency locator transmitter, nor was it required to be.

According to Leidos, neither they nor any third-party vendors utilizing the Leidos Flight Service system had any contact with the accident aircraft on the accident day or the day prior to the accident day. The Professional Aerial Applicators' Support System (part of the National Agricultural Research and Education Foundation) Fly Safe Campaign email message for May 27, 2019, discusses IMC avoidance and states in part:

Flying into fog in an ag aircraft is often lethal. All 3 ag aviation accidents between 2008 and 2016 that resulted from flying into fog were fatal. In 2017 there were 3 fog related accidents – 2 fatal. According to the FAA, 78% of the time a flight in visual meteorological conditions (visibility sufficient to avoid obstacles) enters instrument meteorological conditions (visibility insufficient to avoid obstacles) the result is a fatal accident. Don't leave in the dark unless you're sure of the weather. If you are headed into marginal weather, make sure you know where your way out is at. If the weather is iffy, have another cup of coffee. You'll be safer and you'll be more likely to avoid low-level inversion conditions too.

ANF Air Service, Inc., is a 14 CFR Part 137 aerial application operator based in Garwood, Texas. The company conducts aerial application operations using various Air Tractor airplanes throughout Texas. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Air Tractor
Registration: N713LA
Model/Series: AT502 A
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: ANF Air Service, Inc.
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural Aircraft (137)
Operator Does Business As: ANF Air Service, Inc.
Operator Designator Code: 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Instrument Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KARM, 100 ft msl
Observation Time: 0815 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 25 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C / 19°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 300 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots / , 340°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 1500 ft agl
Visibility:  4 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.88 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Garwood, TX
Destination: Garwood, TX

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:  29.516111, -96.397778 (est)

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.

Cody Wayne Thompson

Cody Wayne Thompson, 36, of Garwood, Texas, passed away May 11, 2019. He was born on July 26, 1982 in Eagle Lake, Texas. Cody was a crop duster for ANF Air Service. He was a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus Council #3371, Garwood Lions Club, Crop Dusters United and Texas Agricultural Aviation Association and National Agricultural Aviation Association.

He is survived by his wife, Shelley Boenisch Thompson of Garwood; daughters, Faith Thompson, Ria Thompson and Brynn Thompson; sister, Stephanie Strack and husband Cuatro of El Campo; grandmother, Norma Thompson of Garwood; parents, Mike and Denise Thompson of Garwood; sister-in-law, Kaylyn Stryk and husband Rodney of Flatonia; brother-in-law, Brett Boenisch and wife Jordan of Wharton; father-in-law and mother-in-law, Mark and Cynthia Boenisch; nieces, Harleigh, Kayla and Kimber Strack, Liv Stryk and nephews, Blake Boenisch, Cinco Strack and Brooks Stryk.

Cody was preceded in death by his paternal grandfather, Leonard Thompson and maternal grandparents, Ervin Rucka and Barbara Rucka Davis.

Visitation begins 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 15 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Nada with a KC Rosary recited at 7 p.m. Funeral Mass begins 10 a.m. Thursday, May 16 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church with Rev. Peter Yeboah Amanfo officiating. Burial will follow at St. Mary’s Cemetery. 

Pallbearers will be Klay Korenek, Scottie Krpec, J.P. Pope, Chriss Schiurring, Brent Schneider, Kevin Hoffman, Travis Stall and Joey Polak. Honorary pallbearers will be Justin Schneider, Trent Korenek, Hank Cranek, Garett Cranek, Eric Nelson, David Fennin, Bill Ishee, Victor Espinosa, Perry Lowry, Mike Ranspot, Patrick Scrogin, Deuce Huffmeyer, Kevin Thompson, Stuart Ray, Matthew Ray, Dustin Epps, Colton Epps, Zack Potter, Taylor Potter, John Michael Rucka, Jake Rucka, Steven Polach, Travis Polach, Joey De Oto, Daniel De Oto, Derrick Rucka and Brandon Rucka.

Memorial donations in memory of Cody may be made to Everyday Heroes Inc. with the Thompson family as a memo. 

Triska Funeral Home, El Campo, Texas

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

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