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N3070R accident description

Arkansas map... Arkansas list
Crash location 35.163611°N, 91.223611°W
Nearest city Wiville, AR
35.148145°N, 91.240959°W
1.4 miles away
Tail number N3070R
Accident date 18 Aug 2015
Aircraft type Air Tractor Inc AT-802A
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On August 18, 2015, about 1105 central daylight time, an Air Tractor AT-802A airplane, N3070R, was destroyed during impact with trees and terrain following an inflight collision with a utility pole near Wiville, Arkansas. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Reynolds Flying Service, Inc., under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 137. Day meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site and no flight plan was filed for the local agricultural application flight, which departed McCrory/Morton Airport (7M0), McCrory, Arkansas, at 1100.

A pilot conducting another agricultural application flight nearby reported that the accident pilot transmitted over the radio that he had "messed up" and that his airplane had collided with a pole (the airplane remained airborne). The accident pilot also reported having an unspecified flight control issue following the collision. The witness located the accident airplane and maneuvered his airplane closer to render assistance. The witness reported that the accident airplane remained in level flight for about 1 mile before it entered a slow right roll and descended into a forested area. The witness reported that the airplane impacted trees in a slight right-wing-down, nose-low attitude. The witness reported seeing an explosion when the airplane collided with the trees. He estimated that 30-45 seconds had elapsed between the impact with the utility pole and when the airplane descended into the forested area.


According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the 34-year-old pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on November 19, 2014, with no limitations or restrictions. On the application for the medical certificate, the pilot reported having accumulated 2,400 total hours of flight experience, of which 350 hours were flown within the previous 6 months.

The pilot's flight history was established using his logbook. The final logbook entry was dated March 31, 2015, at which time he had 4,139.2 total hours of flight experience, all of which was in single-engine airplanes. The operator reported that the pilot had flown at least 900 hours in the accident airplane make and model. The operator also reported that the pilot had flown about 250 hours during the 90 days before the accident and 50 hours during the month before the accident. The pilot's most recent flight review was completed on January 9, 2015, in an American Champion 8KCAB (Decathlon) single-engine airplane.


The accident airplane, serial number 802A-0528, was manufactured in 2013 and was powered by a 1,295 shaft-horsepower Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65AG turbo-propeller engine, serial number PCE-PN0188, which drove a five-blade, constant-speed, full-feathering, Hartzell model HC-B5MP-3F/M11276NS propeller assembly. The single-seat airplane was equipped with a conventional landing gear, flaps, and agricultural application equipment. The airplane had a maximum allowable takeoff weight of 16,000 pounds. The airplane was issued a restricted category airworthiness certificate on September 26, 2013.

The airplane's recording hour meter indicated 878.4 hours at the accident site. According to available maintenance documentation, the airframe and engine had accumulated a total service time of 878.4 hours since new. The last annual inspection of the airplane was completed on October 6, 2014, at 473.4 total airframe hours. The airplane had accumulated 405 hours since the annual inspection. A postaccident review of the maintenance records found no history of unresolved airworthiness issues. The operator reported that the airplane departed on the flight with 150 gallons of Jet-A fuel on board.


A postaccident review of available meteorological data established that day visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site. The nearest aviation weather reporting station was located at Searcy Municipal Airport (SRC), Searcy, Arkansas, about 26 miles west of the accident site. At 1056, about 9 minutes before the accident, the SRC automated surface observing system reported wind 160° magnetic at 8 knots, a clear sky, 10 miles surface visibility, temperature 31°C, dew point 24°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.92 inches of mercury.


The accident site was examined by FAA inspectors and an Air Tractor representative. The initial impact was with a 30-ft-tall wooden utility pole located along the western border of the field being sprayed. Near the top of the pole were several embedded pieces of yellow fiberglass consistent with the airplane's right wingtip. Also embedded in the pole was a transparent glass wingtip strobe light and associated electrical wires. There were numerous small pieces of yellow fiberglass found on the ground, extending 250 ft from the utility pole on a south heading. The main wreckage was in a densely forested area located about 2 miles south-southwest of the utility pole. The accident site consisted of mature trees that were 60-80 ft tall. A fan-shaped wreckage debris field extended about 400 ft from the initial tree impact. The distribution of the wreckage was consistent with the airplane traveling east when it impacted trees. The fuselage and wings were highly fragmented during the impact with the trees. There was evidence of a prolonged postimpact ground fire.

All airframe structural components and flight control surfaces were located along the wreckage debris path. Flight control continuity could not be established due to impact damage; however, all observed separations were consistent with overstress or damage sustained during the postimpact fire. The flap actuator was found in the fully retracted position. The engine remained attached to the fuselage mounts. The propeller hub assembly and the forward section of the reduction gearbox had separated from the engine and were found along the wreckage debris path. Three of the five propeller blades remained attached to the hub assembly. All five propeller blades exhibited various S-shaped bends, tip curls, chordwise scratching, and leading edge damage. The postaccident examination did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation of the airplane before it collided with the utility pole.


The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, Little Rock, Arkansas, performed an autopsy on the pilot. The cause of death was attributed to multiple blunt-force injuries sustained during the accident.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on specimens obtained during the autopsy. The pilot's toxicology results were negative for carbon monoxide and ethanol. 83 ug/ml of acetaminophen was detected in urine. Dextromethorphan and dextrorphan were detected in urine and blood. Doxylamine was detected in urine, but not in blood.

Acetaminophen is a pain and fever reliever commonly sold with the name Tylenol. Dextrorphan is a metabolite of dextromethorphan, an over-the-counter cough medicine. Doxylamine is an antihistamine available in several combination products such as Nyquil, and is used to relieve sneezing, running nose, and nasal congestion caused by the common cold and allergies. Although doxylamine was detected in urine, the absence of the substance in blood is considered non-impairing.


The airplane was equipped with a Hemisphere IntelliStar GPS system that provided guidance and analysis for agricultural application operations. The system's non-volatile memory card was recovered at the accident site and downloaded. The downloaded data was processed and reviewed by the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Division. The recovered data included information from February 2, 2011, through May 12, 2011. The most recent flight on May 12, 2011, departed and landed at McCrory/Morton Airport (7M0). Additionally, the last recorded flight path did not match the location of the accident site. The unit contained no data pertinent to the accident flight.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from a utility pole while maneuvering during an agricultural application flight, which resulted in damage to the right aileron and a subsequent uncontrolled right roll at a low altitude.

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