The pilot reported that, during an agricultural application pass, the elevator control felt abnormal. He chose to return to the airport and noted that the elevator control was unresponsive.
He attempted to maintain pitch control by using the elevator trim, but turbulence made this difficult.
During the off-field landing near Brickeys, Arkansas, the Air Tractor’s nose pitched down. The pilot countered with nose-up trim, and the airplane stalled and then hit the ground, which resulted in minor damage to the propeller.
A post-incident examination revealed that the attachment hardware, including the bolt and nut, at the elevator pushrod had separated. Maintenance had been performed on the elevator control pushrod about 20 hours before the flight, and the bolt and nut would have been removed and reinstalled during this maintenance.
It is likely that maintenance personnel did not properly reinstall the attachment hardware after performing the maintenance.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the in-flight separation of the attachment hardware at the elevator control pushrod due to maintenance personnel’s improper reinstallation of the attachment hardware.
NTSB Identification: CEN15IA200
This April 2015 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.