Friday, June 19, 2020

Air Tractor AT-502B, N879JA: Fatal accident occurred June 16, 2020 in Atmore, Escambia County, Alabama -and- accident occurred May 10, 2015 near Dighton Airport (K65), Lane County, Kansas

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Birmingham, Alabama
Air Tractor Inc; Olney, Texas
Pratt & Whitney; Atlanta, Georgia

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


https://registry.faa.gov/N879JA



Location: Atmore, AL
Accident Number: ERA20LA217
Date & Time: 06/16/2020, 0730 CDT
Registration: N879JA
Aircraft: Air Tractor AT502
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural 

On June 16, 2020, about 0730 central daylight time, an Air Tractor AT-502B, N879JA, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Atmore, Alabama. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 aerial application flight.

According to the pilot's spouse, he departed earlier on the morning of the accident to dispense two small "loads." On his return home he called and asked her to come outside of their residence to watch the airplane fly over. She said that the airplane flew over the house before making a climb straight up. The airplane then banked to the left, rolled right, descended straight down, and she heard a loud "boom" shortly thereafter.

Two witnesses that were fishing on a nearby lake saw the airplane flying below the tree line before it climbed straight up. They said the airplane rolled and descended straight down nose first. They heard a "loud thud" and then silence. The witnesses contacted emergency services and assisted local responders in finding the wreckage.

A Federal Aviation Administration inspector examined the airframe prior to its recovery from the accident site, and noted that the nose, cockpit, and empennage area were crushed aft. Both wings displayed crush damage along their entire leading edges. The inspector confirmed flight control continuity from the elevator and rudder to the cockpit area. He also noted aileron cables extending from the cockpit area to their respective wing.

The engine and propeller were impact damaged and were recovered with the airframe for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Air Tractor
Registration: N879JA
Model/Series: AT502 B
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
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: NSE, 283 ft msl
Observation Time: 0756 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 29 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C / 18°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 5000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots / , 80°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.11 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Atmore, AL
Destination: Atmore, AL

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 31.101389, -87.538889 (est)


An Escambia County, Ala. man died in a single-engine airplane crash Tuesday morning near a residence off of Gideons Lake Road, according to officials.

Sheriff Heath Jackson confirmed that someone died as a result of the crash.

“This morning at about 7:30 a.m., the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office received a call of a single-engine plane crash that had went down,” Jackson said. “At that point, we dispatched emergency personnel and responders to the site. At about 8:10 this morning, we discovered the crash that was in a gravel lake area on land in the bushes.

“We located a single-engine plane that went down,” he said. “At that point, the pilot was located and he was deceased at the scene.”

Jackson said the ECSO is working the death investigation, and the Federal Aviation Administration has been notified.

When asked about the terrain where the crash occurred, Jackson said it looks to be an old gravel lake area, where sand and rocks had been removed.

“There are a lot of grown up areas in it,” he said. “It was kind of difficult to get to where it’s at, but we have been able to get in there to where the plane is to conduct our investigation and make sure everything is taken care of.”

Jackson said the identity of the pilot will not be released until all kin have been notified.

The sheriff said he’d describe the plane as a crop-dusting plane.

Jackson said at present, authorities are trying to clear out a good path to get to the plane.

Jackson said there was no fire as a result of the crash.

“The sheriff’s office will conduct the death investigation, and the FAA will investigate what caused the crash,” he said. “We have a good working relationship with them. Our main thing is that this whole process with the family be smooth. They deserve for us to go the extra mile. We want to give the family time to pull themselves together.

“This subject was a good man in the community,” he said. “Escambia County lost a good man today.”

https://www.brewtonstandard.com

June 16, 2020:   An Escambia County man was killed early Tuesday when his crop duster plane crashed in a remote area northwest of Atmore.

Authorities have not identified the victim, but family members said the plane, which went down near a gravel-pit lake off Gideons Lake Road, was piloted by Eddie Gideons.

Escambia County Sheriff Health Jackson said the crash happened around 7:30 a.m. on land owned by the victim, about two miles off Atmosphere Road which is off Jack Springs Road.

“This morning, about 7:30, Escambia County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers received a call that a single-engine plane had gone down,” the sheriff said. “We dispatched first responders to the site, and at about 8:10 they discovered the crash in a gravel lake area, on land, in some bushes. The pilot was located; he was deceased.”

A steady stream of family members and friends arrived during the morning at the gate that offers access to the crash site. Only family members and close family friends were allowed beyond the gate.

Jackson said the victim was still inside the single-engine, one-seat aircraft, which was in such a remote area that access was hard to gain. Emergency personnel were working to clear a path to expedite the investigation and to allow for removal of the aircraft.

“The plane was not in the water, it was on land,” he said. “Because of where it is, it’s difficult to get to, and there are a lot of grown-up areas around it. We’re trying to clear out a good path so we can get in there to it, and so they can get the plane out (when the investigation has been completed).”

Reports from several sources were that the victim was on the phone with a family member when the plane went down.

“We’re not confirming any of that right now,” the sheriff said. “That’s not something we’ve really dove into yet. There were three main things we needed to do: The main thing was to make sure we got in there to check for anybody that might be a survivor; second, we wanted to preserve the integrity of the scene, and third, we wanted to give the family time to pull themselves together.”

He said ECSO investigators would conduct the death investigation, “as we do with every death in Escambia County,” while Federal Aviation Administration investigators would investigate the crash itself, whether it was caused by a malfunction or if some other factor was involved.

Jackson said he expected both investigations to be “a smooth process.”

Joe Hayles, a friend of the victim and a retired pilot, hypothesized that the aircraft must have stalled. He said (the victim) “was a good enough pilot that he would be able to land that plane in a cornfield or anywhere else.”

Jackson said the death of the victim represented a great loss to the entire community.

“This is a tragic event, not something you would wish on anyone,” he said. “The subject was a very good man in our community. Escambia County lost a good man today.”


http://atmorenews.com


Fuel Contamination: Air Tractor AT-502B, N879JA; accident occurred May 10, 2015 near Dighton Airport (K65), Lane County, Kansas






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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Wichita, Kansas

Aviation Accident Final 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/N879JA


Location: Dighton, KS

Accident Number: CEN15LA226
Date & Time: 05/10/2015, 0911 CDT
Registration: N879JA
Aircraft: AIR TRACTOR INC AT 502B
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel contamination
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Positioning

Analysis 

The commercial pilot stated that he did not observe any anomalies during his preflight inspection or during his before-takeoff engine run-up. The pilot was departing on a positioning flight when the engine lost partial power during initial climb. The pilot's corrective actions did not restore full engine power, so he made a forced landing to a nearby muddy field. The pilot reported that, after the accident, the engine continued to run with a gas generator speed of about 35% and that he cut fuel flow to the engine to shut it down.

Postaccident engine examination revealed no evidence of a mechanical malfunction that would have precluded normal operation; however, an examination of the fuel system revealed water contamination in multiple tanks and filters. Laboratory testing showed that the observed water contamination exceeded the allowable limits for aviation turbine fuel. Given the amount of water contamination observed after the accident, it is likely the pilot did not adequately check the fuel condition at both wing fuel tanks, header fuel tank sump, and the fuel valve sump as required by the airplane flight manual Preflight checklist.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to follow the Preflight checklist and his inadequate preflight inspection, during which he failed to detect the water contamination of the fuel, which resulted in a partial loss of engine power during initial climb.

Findings

Aircraft
Fuel - Fluid condition (Cause)
Fuel system - Inadequate inspection (Cause)

Personnel issues
Preflight inspection - Pilot (Cause)
Use of checklist - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Wet/muddy terrain - Contributed to outcome

Factual Information 

On May 10, 2015, about 0911 central daylight time, an Air Tractor AT-502 airplane, N879JA, collided with terrain during a forced landing following a partial loss of engine power shortly after takeoff from Dighton Airport, Dighton, Kansas. The commercial pilot was not injured, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by Jordan Air Inc. under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a positioning flight without a flight plan. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country flight that had an intended destination of Dodge City Regional Airport, Dodge City, Kansas.

The pilot reported that he observed no anomalies during his preflight inspection of the airplane or during his before-takeoff engine runup. The airplane was last fueled (topped-off) a couple of days earlier at another airport and was not refueled before the accident flight. The pilot stated that the engine produced full torque and speed during the takeoff from runway 35, and that he made a left turn shortly after liftoff to avoid a powerline located about 400 yards north of the runway. The pilot stated that the airplane experienced a partial loss of engine power shortly after he made an initial power reduction during initial climb. His corrective actions did not restore full engine power, so he made a forced landing to a nearby muddy field. The pilot reported that the engine continued to run after the accident with a gas generator speed of about 35%. The pilot stopped the engine by turning off the electric fuel pump, repositioning the fuel valve to OFF, and moving the condition lever to the fuel cutoff position.

On May 11, 2015, a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) maintenance inspector with the Wichita Flight Standards District Office examined the wreckage. The wreckage had been recovered to the departure airport before the examination. The FAA inspector reported that the right wing, aft fuselage, and tail were substantially damaged during the forced landing. A fuel sample obtained from the fuel control unit inlet filter revealed evidence of water contamination. Additional fuel samples were obtained from both wing fuel tanks and the firewall-mounted primary fuel filter. These additional samples initially appeared to be free of any water contamination on the day of the examination; however, over the next two days the fuel samples became opaque with a yellow tint. The FAA Inspector noted that the airplane was in an abnormal attitude when the wing tanks were drained and, as such, the samples were not likely representative of the fuel found at the lowest point of each wing fuel tank in a normal ramp attitude. On May 13, 2015, the wreckage salvage company reported that after moving the airplane they observed contaminated fuel with an orange/red color in both wing tanks and the firewall-mounted primary fuel filter. An engine examination revealed no evidence of a mechanical malfunction that would have precluded normal operation.

At the request of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator, the wreckage salvage company obtained fuel samples from the header tank and the fuselage-mounted primary fuel filter. These fuel samples were submitted to the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Applied Chemicals and Materials Division, Boulder, Colorado, for laboratory testing. A visual examination of the fuel samples revealed two immiscible liquid phases in their respective containers; the top phase was consistent with a hydrocarbon while the bottom phase appeared to be aqueous. The top and bottom layers of the header tank sample were clear and colorless. The top layer of the primary fuel filter sample was clear and colorless, and the bottom layer was a pale brown or orange color with similarly colored fine precipitate on the bottom of the container. The initial boiling temperature for the bottom layer of each sample was consistent with water. The initial boiling temperatures for the top layer of each sample was consistent with aviation turbine fuel. Volatility measurements using the advanced distillation curve (ADC) method confirmed that the top hydrocarbon layer of each sample was consistent with aviation turbine fuel. The water concentration was about 162 parts per million (ppm) and 160 ppm for the hydrocarbon layer of the primary fuel filter sample and header tank sample, respectively. The specified limit for water concentration in aviation turbine fuel is 30 ppm. Volatility measurements for the lower aqueous layer of each sample was consistent with water, and the water concentration was about 93% and 100% for the aqueous layer of the primary fuel filter sample and header tank sample, respectively.

The Air Tractor AT-502B Airplane Flight Manual specifies that during a preflight inspection a pilot should obtain a fuel sample from both wing fuel tank sumps, header fuel tank sump, and the fuel valve sump. 

History of Flight

Prior to flight
Preflight or dispatch event

Initial climb
Fuel contamination (Defining event)
Loss of engine power (partial)

Landing
Off-field or emergency landing 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 48, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Center
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 5-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 12/16/2014
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 07/15/2014
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 11525 hours (Total, all aircraft), 500 hours (Total, this make and model), 11242 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 200 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 150 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 4 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: AIR TRACTOR INC
Registration: N879JA
Model/Series: AT 502B
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Restricted
Serial Number: 502B-2879
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 8000 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Turbo Prop
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: Pratt & Whitney Canada
ELT:
Engine Model/Series: PT6A-34AG
Registered Owner: Jordan Air, Inc.
Rated Power: 750 hp
Operator: Jordan Air, Inc.
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural Aircraft (137)
Operator Does Business As:
Operator Designator Code: WDWG

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: GCK, 2891 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 36 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0854 CDT
Direction from Accident Site: 199°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 23 knots / 28 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 290°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.88 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 6°C / 1°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Dighton, KS (K65)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Dodge City, KS (DDC)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0911 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Dighton Airport (K65)
Runway Surface Type: N/A
Airport Elevation: 2778 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Soft
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing

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: 38.489722, -100.479722 (est)

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