Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Van's RV-6A, N646RV: Fatal accident occurred September 16, 2022 in Aztec, Yuma County, Arizona

National Transportation Safety Board - Accident Number: WPR22FA348

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Scottsdale, Arizona 

Aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances and caught on fire. 

Date: 16-SEP-22
Time: 21:00:00Z
Regis#: N646RV
Aircraft Make: VANS
Aircraft Model: RV6
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Total Fatal: 2
Flight Crew: 1  Fatal
Pax: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
Operation: 91

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email witness@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov. You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290.

Marcela Orozco Barba and Ron Barba

DATELAND, Arizona — A pilot and a passenger are dead after a plane crashed Friday in southwestern Arizona.

The Yuma County Sheriff's Office says just before 2 p.m. Friday, a DPS trooper saw a large plume of smoke while patrolling Spot Road and Interstate 8 near Dateland, Arizona.

The trooper arrived at the scene and found a small aircraft in the desert fully engulfed in flames.

Officials were called to the scene, where they located a pilot and passenger who were pronounced dead.

The aircraft has been identified as a Van's RV-6A.

The two victims have not yet been identified by authorities.

Family contacted ABC15, saying the two who died were Ron Barba and Marcela Orozco Barba.

“All the family is in shock,” said Marcela’s cousin, Angela Duran. “We are all in shock because I guess you never plan for an accident to happen.”

Duran said Sunday she was supposed to see her cousin Marcela, who’s originally from Nogales, and her husband Ron.

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“They were going to come down to Nogales on the private aircraft he had bought,” said Duran. “He had bought that one a few months ago they were super excited.”

Duran said the pair was the perfect couple.

Marcela didn’t have any kids, but Ron’s daughter told ABC15 he had four.

“Crazy, but perfect,” said Duran.

Over the phone, she told ABC15 that the couple had already flown the plane multiple times and Ron was an experienced pilot.

Angela said she found out Saturday, after getting a message from Ron’s daughter.

“As of now they don’t really know what happened or why the plane crashed,” said Duran.

Just 24 hours later, she said her family is in indescribable pain.

“She was my confidant even though she was far away we would talk over the phone,” said Duran. “We would worry about each other.”

As two families grieve, Duran said they realize each day isn’t promised.

“We fight over things that are not important not realizing if we are going to wake up tomorrow,” said Duran.

The cause of the crash is not yet known.

The plane had departed from San Diego and was headed to Nogales, according to YCSO.

The FAA and NTSB have been contacted and are investigating the crash.


  1. The FAA N-reg for N646RV still shows the previous owner in Georgia. Sign of a broken FAA registration branch unable to cope with even simple new owner regs in a timely manner. AOPA is working with its Congressional lobbyists to put pressure on the FAA to address this long time delay for new owner registrations. For example:
    I mailed a new owner reg for an airplane I bought with cash in in mid-May, mailed the re-reg form and fee in immediately to FAA reg branch and it took until late August for the FAA N-number lookup to show my ownership. 3+ months, which I suppose is an improvement on the 6 months it has been prior to AOPA pressure on FAA via Congress lobbyists to Reps and Senators. So if Mr Barber bought his RV-6 a few months ago, not surprising FAA still shows the previous owner.
    On this fatal RV-6 crash: Lycoming O-320 installed according to reg lookup. That's the Cessna Skyhawk 150HP engine. A Good engine, and a long track record of reliability when maintained. But to become a flaming wreck in the desert, something more serious than straight-up engine failure during cruse in DAY VFR over the SW desert had to happen to that airplane, or as we've seen all too often, a stall spin at low altitude in power out situation trying to make some safe landing area.
    The pilot, Ronald Paul Barba of Nogales AZ, shows ASEL rating from 2012. The 2012 date may also just be when he switched his PPL over from his SSN to a new ppl number. FAA database shows a 3rdClass medical of May 2020, which may have been recently updated (June-July-August) but not currently reflected in the FAA database, again due to slow, backlogged FAA data entries.

    As for Dateland Arizona, the surface weather around incident time:
    1:57 PM temp: 94 °F dp: 63 °F 36 % surface winds: S 9 mph gust none 29.54 in 0.0 in precip
    So "clear and million", but of note a high dew point (at least for for Arizona).
    The high dew point is a concern, coupled with the fact that at a 3,000 - 5,000 AGL flying altitude, the OAT would have been in the mid-60's, a very comfortable cabin temp, but also very close to the dew point. Ripe conditions for cruise phase carb ice in O-320 carb'd engine per the FAA circular 20-113 on icing in carb'd-recip engines.
    So unless the NTSB finds an aircraft structural part some distance from the crash site, best guess at this point is cruise-phase carb ice, then engine failure, a forced landing to a all-too common stall-spin trying to make a paved surface just off the I-8 exit at mile marker 78.

    1. Good info and theory on the crash

      Ron’s plane actually had the O-320-E2C. (His hangar is next to mine. KSDM)

  2. Home built, experimental aircraft should not be permitted to be sold.

    1. That is just "I got money, let the peasants do without their GA aircraft" snobbery.
      Fact: Experimental accident rate is no higher than with similar FAA type certified aircraft. It comes down to maintenance-inspection of the airframe-powerplant, and the experience of the pilot. People who buy experimental usually do so because paying $400K for nice shiny C-172 is out of their budget. Or $600K-$800K for a Cirrus.
      The perceived problem with experimental aircraft is the "I gotta go cheap factor." If we all could afford a new C-182T, a new Piper or Cirrus, who would buy an experimental? The experimental with the same performance and new avioics can be 1/3 the cost. And if maintained to the same standards as a type certified PMA aircraft, it is no less reliable.
      I suggest you lobby Joe Biden for a bailout to buy you a new Cirrus as a stimulus. On my tax-dime. on second thought... No thank you.

    2. Uninformed opinion. Certificated aircrafts which rent-seeking structure pushes their prices orders of magnitude more than experimentals just like the SLS costs 100 times more per lb launched than Falcon 9, are build the same way as experimental ones but also by labor that isn't the pilot whose ass will be in the plane. In a medieval like setting of steel sheet forming and riveting. Hand made with imperfections from one model to the other. At one ten thousands the volume of a car production run. Ferrari outproduces Cirrus and Robinson, the current leaders in GA, 20 to 1 each year.
      I got a brand new aircraft once and from the factory a washer was missing on a spark plus and another one had 2, the magnifold pressure sensor failed twice, the engine would inexplicably shut down on the runway taxiing. And somehow the warranty on the brand new plane wasn't worth the paper it was printed on with all the exclusions.
      Heard similar stories of horrendous fabrication quality from other brand new certified planes that sometimes spent more time in the shop than flying.
      Remember 90% of the price of a certificated machine is also liability costs with rent-seeking lawsuits. So most of them are actually of less quality than a well crafted experimental.

    3. “Cirrus and Robinson…” Those two names sure do go well together.

    4. Right you are sir. I'm rich and only buy certified aircraft.

    5. How about allowing the original builder, who would hold a Repairman Certificate (E-AB) to maintain the A/C until it is sold, then it would be required to have all MX/inspections performed by A&Ps, IAs, and CRSs, as appropriate. In other words, if you want to own and MAINTAIN an experimental, then build it yourself. Otherwise, pay a professional to fix it.

  3. The Vans a/c I have worked on ( Not that many) have had good workmanship. Shoddiness appeared a bit in wiring...routing, terminals, protection from chafing, etc. Just like I see in other certificated aircraft that have been around a while.
    Sure, quality can vary in an experimental..it is the job of the builder or purchaser to make sure it is acceptable. Be able to do that yourself, or hire someone..be picky..plenty of A/Ps shouldn't be working at jiffy lube.
    Do you think a "normal" aircraft is nothing but perfection? Start browsing airworthiness directives. I suggest beginning with the small Piper wing spar AD. You won't live long enough to read them all. Read some manufacturers service bulletins...which most GA aircraft owners ignore. ("You can't make me!", they say.) They generally turn into ADS AFTER a fatality or two. (Thus the AD = after death joke) then they are grudgingly complied with.
    I'm an ap/IA , and also do lot of other (car, etc) mechanical work, so have many opportunities to compare similar parts from different industries. Many GA parts are car parts (alternators, for example) that are supposedly held to higher standards, and sold for 3-4 times the price. Strangely, nonfunctional new parts are more common with aviation. Aircraft quality...yup.
    The above "carb ice" theory is sure reasonable, but there are plenty of other reasons for an o-320 to quit, if that is what happened. Remember all the oil pump changes, bulletins, and ADs on lycoming oil pumps? There is something that an experimental aircraft is probably more likely to have overlooked.
    Again, if you want to be safe in aviation, look into it and figure it out yourself! Don't be the dead guy that is the inspiration for a new AD or FAR.

    1. Last part of flight tracking shows a lot of vertical and speed changes. That may be rolls. Too fast for full deflection rolls.

    2. The aircraft also had a previous accident with prop strike and wing damage. I doubt the faa will even investigate.

    3. Everyone forgets, BREAKING NEWS !!!! Even without an engine and airplane still flies, DUH !!! I've been to I-8 mile marker 78, nothing but flat land around, make the desert your airport. You know horseplay was going on.

    4. In a desperate attempt to save the airplane, too often pilots take it to the stall to make a paved surface. A Forced landing in the desert and those creosote bushes are small trees that shred an airplane, an experimental aircraft without loss insurance. The first commenter mentioned the possibility of a inflight structural failure. RV-6's have had a few, that is why Van's came out with the RV-7, to fix those. The RV-6 itself was an improvement on the faults of the RV-3, an airplane with notoriously inadequate main spar design in sever turbulence. Flutter loss of tail surfaces with fatal consequence are also reported in RV-6s, but those seemed to have needed pushing the airplane beyond Vne with g-loadings.

    5. "I doubt the faa will even investigate". Well why should they bother? It was an experimental aircraft - they knew what they were getting into.

    6. I own/Built a 7-A. I've also owned and flown various other aircraft types certified and not, some very slow and some very fast moving . All of them need to be flown in the envelope they were designed for, and all of them could/will kill you if you mess up a bit too much.

      For the folks commenting on experimentals shouldn't be flown/allowed to be sold- do a little homework (if you know what you are looking at). Just because an airplane has been certified doesn't mean it can't break/be broken and it doesn't prevent the pilot from making an error either.

      There are plenty of fantastic EAB's out there, some based on old proven designs (lot's of the Cub knockoffs), others like the RV line with well over 10K being flown thus far too.

      I'd much rather be in my RV, than some old Cessna/Piper (or many newer planes) and would argue that is is better built/stronger. Definitely quicker, and more capable for certain missions too, but still needs to be respected and flown within it's and my limits.

      Only one argument to the above- I have $180K hull value insurance on mine, will likely up it given the increase in everything these days

      Fly what you are comfortable with and can afford.


  4. There are conflicting reports on the location of this accident. Dateland and Aztec are both mentioned. There is an abandoned airport in the NE edge of Dateland that appears to be useable for emergency. Three runways, the longest 6500'.
    Regarding the carb ice theory, Lycoming powered airplanes like the RV's have tighter cowls than most factory airplanes This makes carb ice very unlikely. The psycotic rants about EAB aircraft have no place here. All that does is suggest that the poster is a candidate for a padded cell.

  5. Vans RV3,4,6,7,8,and 14 are designed to aerobatic category. At least 50% stronger than a standard category airplane. 6G's aerobatic category vs 3.8 Standard category.