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N6073U accident description

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Tail numberN6073U
Accident dateFebruary 28, 2002
Aircraft typeAir Tractor AT-502B
LocationExtension, LA
Near 32.152778 N, -91.698333 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On February 28, 2002, approximately 1428 central standard time, an Air Tractor AT-502B agricultural airplane, N6073U, impacted the terrain while maneuvering near Extension, Louisiana. The airplane was owned by Lewis Flying and Maintenance Service, Inc., of Morse, Louisiana, and operated by Goodman Flying Service, Inc., of Winnsboro, Louisiana, under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137. The commercial pilot, sole occupant, was fatally injured, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the aerial application flight, and a company visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan was filed. The local flight originated from a private airstrip approximately 1415.

Witnesses observed the airplane flying approximately 200-250 feet agl, start to climb, nose over, and impact the field in an inverted attitude, approximately 300 feet from the witnesses. Witnesses described hearing a high revving of the propeller and the engine.

According to the operator, the 9,978-hour pilot had started the flights for the day approximately 1000 in the morning. The airplane was topped with fuel and 2,750 pounds of fertilizer was loaded into the hopper before the 1415 departure. The pilot dispensed his fourth load of fertilizer for the day on the field and was returning to the airstrip when the accident occurred.


The FAA pilot records, reviewed by the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC), revealed that the pilot was issued a commercial pilot certificate with the airplane singe-engine land rating in 1985. The pilot held a second class medical certificate issued June 1, 2001, with the limitation "must have available glasses for near vision". The records submitted by the FAA, the operator, and the insurance representative indicated the pilot's accumulated flight time was 9,978 hours, of which 575 hours were in the AT-502 series aircraft. The pilot's last biennial flight review was performed on June 26, 2001.


The airplane, model AT-502B, serial number 502B-0355, was manufactured in 1996 by Air Tractor, Inc., Olney, Texas, with a P & W model PT6A-34 engine and a Hartzell model HC-B3TN-3D propeller installed. The FAA airworthiness certificate was issued on March 13, 1996. The aircraft was registered to the current owner on April 11, 2001.

In March 2001, the field data computer system (Ag-Nav GPS Flagging System, serial number 11150701) was installed on the aircraft.

The last annual inspection was performed on March 5, 2001, at a total aircraft time of 2,968 hours, a total engine time of 15,655 hours, and a total propeller time of 570 hours. According to the engine manufacturer's representative, the engine time since new was 16,195 hours (1,111 hours since HOT section) at the time of the accident.


The FAA inspector, who responded to the accident site, and the manufacturer's representative, found the airplane resting inverted in the furrowed field. The airplane debris was found in the immediate area of the main wreckage. The airplane came to rest on a measured magnetic heading of 180 degrees.

Following the on scene examination, the airplane was recovered by Dawson Aircraft, Inc., Clinton, Arkansas. On May 23, 2003, under the supervision of the FAA, the airplane was examined at Clinton, Arkansas.

The upper surface of the leading edges of both wings were crushed. Wing skin panels were twisted and buckled. The cockpit was compressed and buckled. Both spars were crushed. Flight control continuity was confirmed. The flap actuator was found mounted in the airframe and intact. The actuator jack screw was found open 3 1/4 inches. According to the manufacturer's representative the measurement equates to 26 degrees or full flaps extended on the AT-502B. A 24-volt battery was connected to the wires at the flap motor and the motor, gear box, and jack screw functioned per specifications. An Ohm meter was used to verify operation of the flap travel limit switch. The integrity of both wing fuel cells was compromised. Fuel was found at the engine fuel control unit.


The autopsy was performed by Forensic Pathologists, Inc., Bossier City, Louisiana.

The FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute's (CAMI) Forensic Toxicological and Accident Research center examined the specimens taken by the medical examiner. The toxicological findings were positive for 0.023 (ug/ml, ug/g) Amphetamine detected in the blood; 0.892 (ug/ml, ug/g) Amphetamine detected in the urine; 0.053 (ug/ml, ug/g) Methamphetamine detected in the blood; and 2.516 (ug/ml, ug/g) Methamphetamine detected in the urine. According to the Assistant FAA Southwest Regional Flight Surgeon, symptoms of amphetamines include nervousness, restlessness, insomnia, loss of appetite, dizziness, dry mouth, and gastrointestinal disturbances. Use of amphetamines would have precluded medical certification of this pilot had it been reported.


On April 24, 2002, at Clinton, Arkansas, the propeller was examined and a teardown performed under the supervision of the FAA. The aft end of the three Beta adjustment nuts were: 30/32, 1 12/32, and 1 1/32 inches, respectively, from the piston contact point. According to the manufacturer’s representative, #1 blade angle was approximately 19.3 degrees, #2 blade angle was approximately 23.3 degrees, and the #3 blade angle was undeterminable. Blade #1 was bent aft and twisted toward low pitch. The outboard 12 inches of the blade tip was separated and there was "cupped chordwise bending in the tip area. Blade #2 was bent aft approximately 90 degrees and twisted toward low pitch. Blade #3 had multiple bends and was bent forward approximately 60 degree and twisted toward low pitch. The outboard 1/2 of the blade had "cupped" chordwise bending. According to the manufacturer's representative, the propeller was operating with power "ON" at the time of impact. The propeller was operating at a blade angle in the "normal operating range." There were no discrepancies found that would have precluded "normal" operation of the propeller prior to impact.

On August 2, 2002, at Dallas, Texas, the powerplant was examined and a teardown performed under the supervision of the NTSB. The engine displayed impact damage including rupture of the reduction gearbox forward housing and fracture of the propeller shaft. Circumferential rubbing and scoring were displayed by the compressor turbine, the power turbine guide vane ring, interstage baffle, and the power turbine. The compressor 1st stage shroud, the compressor turbine shroud, and the power turbine shroud displayed circumferential rubbing and scoring. According to the manufacturer’s representative, the internal contact rubbing and scoring signatures are "characteristic of the engine developing significant power at the time of the impact. The engine displayed no indications of any pre-impact anomalies or distress that would have precluded normal operation prior to impact."

On August 26, 2002, at Rockford, Illinois, the propeller governor was disassembled and examined under the supervision of the FAA. The visual inspection of the data plate identified the control as having an 8210-003 U' with an assembly date of November 2000. The control incorporated the 8210-002 bill of material manifold plate (part number 3886-026, instead of the 8210-003 bill of material lock pitch solenoid (part number 1310-511). According to the manufacturer's representative, the "8210-003 propeller governor is not applicable to the AT-502B aircraft" .


Data from the field data computer system (GPS PICODAS, Model P201, serial number 20160202) was recovered by the FAA and the Ag-Nav GPS data retrieved by the manufacturer. A graph of the accident flight indicated that the airplane climbed from 200 feet agl to approximately 480 feet agl and then vertical to approximately 630 feet agl prior to descending.

The airplane was released by the FAA to the owner's representative.

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.