A witness reported observing the Air Tractor AT-602 make a downwind turn that would realign it with the field the pilot was spraying near Gueydan, La.
The plane then entered a descent and struck 30-foot power lines before hitting the ground about 30 feet forward of the power lines in a left-wing-low, steep nose-down attitude, which was consistent with the airplane stalling before it impacted the power lines.
The pilot, who was killed in the crash, was known to make steep, high-G turns when spraying fields.
The day before the accident, the pilot flew the airplane, and it struck a bird, which damaged the right wing’s leading edge.
A mechanic inspected the wing and deemed the damage to be minor; the pilot agreed and subsequently flew the damaged airplane for about 12 hours.
A company pilot reported that he heard the pilot comment over the radio during an application pass later that same day that the wing was starting to open up where the bird had hit it.
Even with this knowledge, the pilot continued to fly the airplane.
The company pilot also stated that he had looked at the airplane on the morning of the accident and noted that several rivets were missing around the damaged area and that he would not have flown the airplane in that condition, however, he did not share his concerns with the pilot or the operator.
Due to impact and post-impact fire damage, it could not be determined if the damaged wing contributed to the accident, however, the spar was undamaged.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot’s failure to maintain airplane control, which resulted in a stall and subsequent collision with power lines.
NTSB Identification: CEN14LA255
This May 2014 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.