The operator reported that the pilot was applying dry, granular fertilizer to a rice field near Basile, Louisiana. During the last application pass, the Air Tractor AT 502B’s left wing hit some trees. The plane then struck several additional trees, traveled about 550 feet, and hit terrain, killing the pilot.
A post-impact fire ensued and subsequently consumed a majority of the airplane.
Although the wreckage was significantly fragmented and damaged by fire, no evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures of the airframe or engine were noted that would have precluded normal operation.
Examination of the accident site and wreckage revealed tree strikes and left wing damage that were consistent with the pilot’s failing to maintain clearance from the trees while maneuvering at a low altitude.
Probable cause: The pilot’ failure to maintain adequate clearance from trees while maneuvering during an aerial application flight.
NTSB Identification: CEN15LA222
This May 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.