Friday, July 24, 2020

Air Tractor AT-802A, N80166: Accident occurred July 14, 2020 in Birch Creek, Alaska

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. 

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fairbanks, Alaska

Location: Birch Creek, AK
Accident Number: ANC20LA069
Date & Time: 07/14/2020, 1555 AKD
Registration: N80166
Aircraft: Air Tractor AT802
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural

On July 14, 2020, about 1555 Alaska daylight time, an Air Tractor AT802A airplane, sustained substantial damage when it was involved in an accident near Birch Creek, Alaska. The commercial pilot and sole occupant was not injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 firefighting flight.

The purpose of the flight was to support wildland firefighting operations. The airplane was equipped with Wipline 10000 amphibious floats in the Fire Boss configuration. Scoops could be manually deployed by a switch located on the control stick of the airplane that actuated an electrically driven hydraulic pump; when the switch was released the scoops would retract. Water was routed through the scoops located on each float to a hopper located in the aircraft. In addition, the airplane was equipped with an asymmetric scoop warning system. In the event of an asymmetric scoop deployment, an audible warning "asymmetric scoop" would sound and a red warning light would illuminate on the instrument panel.

According to the pilot, on the 28th scoop of the day, he touched down on the surface of the water and deployed the scoops to begin filling the airplane's hopper when the airplane veered hard to the right. In an effort to correct for the veer he released the scoop switch and applied left rudder to no avail. He retarded the throttle and applied reverse thrust as the airplane began to impact trees located on the lake's shoreline. The airplane came to rest upright in a marshy area on the lake's shoreline sustaining substantial damage to the right wing.

An initial on-scene examination of the airplane revealed no mechanical malfunction or anomaly with the airplane's scoop system. Control continuity was established from the rudder pedals to the water rudders and air rudder. A detailed wreckage examination is pending.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Air Tractor
Model/Series: AT802 A
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Aero Spray Inc
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:
Observation Time: 2356 UTC
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point: 22°C / 6°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 4300 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots / , 290°
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.79 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Departure Point: Fairbanks, AK (PAFB)
Destination: Fairbanks, AK (PAFB)

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: 66.576389, -145.255000 (est)

(Fairbanks, Alaska) – No injuries were reported after an aircraft incident during suppression efforts on a wildfire about 120 air miles north of Fairbanks Tuesday afternoon. A Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service dispatch center was notified at 3:56 p.m. of a incident involving a Air Tractor AT-802A Fire Boss working on the 15-acre Birch Creek Fire about 17 miles northwest of Circle. 

The Air Tractor AT-802A was one of six aircraft – four Fire Boss water scoopers, a helicopter and an air attack airplane guiding the suppression efforts – aiding eight Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service smokejumpers on the ground. 

The aircraft was scooping out of an unnamed body of water about 2-3 miles north of the fire when the incident occurred. Two qualified emergency medical technician smokejumpers assessed the condition of the pilot, who was the sole occupant of the airplane and didn’t identify any injuries. 

The pilot was flown via Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service helicopter to Fairbanks for further assessment at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and released. The aircraft was deemed inoperable and will be removed from the scene after further investigation into the incident.

The aircraft is owned by Dauntless Air Inc of Appleton, Minnesota and is one of four SEATs contracted by Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service fire season. All four were working on the fire at the time of the incident. The Department of the Interior Office of Aviation Services and the National Transportation Safety Board were notified.

The safety of the public and our firefighting personnel is paramount for wildfire response. Because Alaska is such a vast state, wildfire agencies rely heavily upon aviation support whether during suppression efforts or logistical assistance, putting aviation safety at the heart of wildfire response.

The Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service uses a combination of Bureau owned and contracted aircraft to accomplish its mission of providing safe, cost effective wildland fire response to all Department of the Interior and Native Lands in Alaska. 

In 2015, Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service accounted for roughly one-half of all aviation hours flown by BLM firefighters nationally. Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service aviation section was given the Department of the Interior Unit Award of Excellence of Service that year for accomplishing the monumental task of providing aviation support without any major incidents during Alaska’s second largest fire season in terms of the number of acres burned.

1 comment:

  1. Firefighting plane, float equipped: