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Sun, Apr 16, 2023

NTSB Prelim: Rockwell International S-2R

Operator Reported That The Pilot Had Been Flying For About 8 Hours When The Accident Occurred

Location: Willows, CA Accident Number: WPR23FA122
Date & Time: March 7, 2023, 16:11 Local Registration: N8424V
Aircraft: Rockwell International S-2R Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural

On March 7, 2023, about 1611 Pacific standard time, a Rockwell International S-2R, N8424V, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Willows, California. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 aerial application flight.

According to the operator, the pilot was scheduled to spray fungicide over several almond orchards. Preliminary data retrieved from an onboard GPS aerial application guidance system showed that the airplane departed Willows/Glenn County Airport, Willows, California about 1354, and tracked towards the south and then turned right to a westerly heading. The airplane flew a racetrack pattern in a north/south direction over a field located immediately west of a bank of powerlines. 

The flight track ceased at 1611 about 0.6 nm southwest of the accident site. A witness located about 0.5 nm northwest of the accident site reported that he observed the airplane make several passes in a racetrack pattern on a north/south heading directly over him at 1545 as it sprayed the field. The airplane left the area and then returned about 1610, and made additional passes. He heard a loud noise about 2 minutes after the last pass. The operator reported that the pilot had been flying for about 8 hours when the accident occurred. The airplane came to rest inverted in an almond orchard about 500 ft northeast of a powerline tower and was oriented on a heading of 038° magnetic and adjacent to a severed conductor (powerline). 

All the major structural components of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site. The debris field was marked by several broken tree branches about 50 ft southeast of the accident site. A ground scar about 5 ft in diameter was collocated with the main wreckage. Both ailerons and flaps remained attached to their respective wings, which were both attached to the fuselage. The right wing displayed a depression about 3 ft in diameter with accordion style deformation and tree remnants several feet outboard of the wing root. The left wing leading edge exhibited a depression about 10 ft from the wing root. A section of conductor, about 2 inches in diameter, was wrapped around the propeller hub. The conductor line was traced through the left wing depression to the trees southeast of the accident site. Both elevators remained connected at their respective horizontal stabilizers and the rudder remained attached to the vertical stabilizer. The right elevator was bent downward about midspan and the vertical stabilizer was bent to the left, also about midspan. The elevator trim tabs were attached to their respective elevators; the left elevator trim tab was deflected downward and the right elevator trim tab exhibited an upward deflection. 

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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