Sunday, June 20, 2021

Fuel Exhaustion: Air Tractor Inc AT-301, N3169D; accident occurred June 20, 2018 in Hutchinson, McLeod County, Minnesota

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Minneapolis, Minnesota 

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Location: Hutchinson, MN
Accident Number: GAA18CA371
Date & Time: 06/20/2018, 1100 CDT
Registration: N3169D
Aircraft: AIR TRACTOR INC AT 301
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel exhaustion
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural


According to the pilot in the tailwheel-equipped airplane, during an agricultural application flight, he accidentally loaded more fertilizer to disperse than he had initially planned, which made the airplane "heavy." He chose not to add fuel to prevent the airplane from being over its gross weight. During flight, the engine lost power, and the pilot conducted a forced landed in a dirt field that was water-logged due to recent storms. During the landing roll, the airplane nosed over. The pilot reported that "I misjudged what I believed to be a safe quantity of fuel remaining."

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the rudder and vertical stabilizer.

The pilot reported that there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's improper preflight fuel planning, which resulted in fuel exhaustion and the subsequent total loss of engine power.


Personnel issues Fuel planning - Pilot
Aircraft Fuel - Fluid level
Environmental issues Wet/muddy terrain - Contributed to outcome

Factual Information

History of Flight

Prior to flight Aircraft loading event
Maneuvering-low-alt flying Fuel exhaustion (Defining event)
Maneuvering-low-alt flying Loss of engine power (total)
Landing Off-field or emergency landing
Landing Nose over/nose down

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 47, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Single
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 04/19/2018
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 01/27/2017
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 3350 hours (Total, all aircraft), 40 hours (Total, this make and model), 3290 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 152 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 152 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 9 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: AIR TRACTOR INC
Registration: N3169D
Model/Series: AT 301 NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture:1984 
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Restricted
Serial Number: 301-0569
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 04/10/2018, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 7400 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:  as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Pratt and Whitney
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: R1340
Registered Owner: CLASSIC ARROW INC
Rated Power: 600 hp
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: KHCD, 1060 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 2 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1615 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 195°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 11 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 80°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.92 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C / 15°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Hutchinson, MN (HCD)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Hutchinson, MN (HCD)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1030 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Hutchinson Muni-Butler Field (HCD)
Runway Surface Type: Dirt
Airport Elevation: 1062 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Standing Water; Wet
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:  44.512778, -94.300000 (est)

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