Crash of a Grumman S-2E Tracker in Hopland: 1 killed

Date & Time: Aug 27, 2001 at 1840 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N450DF
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Site:
Schedule:
Ukiah - Ukiah
MSN:
421
YOM:
1954
Flight number:
Tanker 87
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Captain / Total flying hours:
4639
Captain / Total hours on type:
1294.00
Aircraft flight hours:
10354
Circumstances:
During an aerial fire suppression mission for the California Department of Forestry (CDF), two Grumman TS-2A airplanes, operating as Tanker 92 (N442DF) and Tanker 87 (N450DF), collided in flight while in a holding pattern awaiting a retardant drop assignment on the fire. All of the airplanes fighting the fire were TS-2A's, painted in identical paint schemes. The Air Tactical Group Supervisor (AirTac) was orbiting clockwise 1,000 feet above the tankers, who were in a counterclockwise orbit at 3,000 feet mean sea level (msl). The pilots of both aircraft involved in the collision had previously made several drops on the fire. Records from the Air Tac show that Tankers 86, 91, and 92 were in orbit, and investigation found that Tanker 87 was inbound to enter the orbit after reloading at a nearby airport base. AirTac would write down the tanker numbers as they made their 3-minutes-out call, and usually ordered their drops in the same order as their check-in. The AirTac's log recorded the sequence 86, 91, 21, and 92. The log did not contain an entry for Tanker 87. Other pilots on frequency did not recall hearing Tanker 87 check in. Based on clock codes with 12-o'clock being north, the tankers were in the following approximate positions of the orbit when the collision occurred. Tanker 92 was at the 2-o'clock position; Tanker 86 was turning in at the 5-o'clock position; and Tanker 91 was in the 7-o'clock position. The AirTac's log indicated that Tanker 92 was going to move up in sequence and follow Tanker 86 in order to drop immediately after him. Post accident examination determined that Tanker 92's flaps were down, indicating that the pilot had configured the airplane for a drop. Tanker 92 swung out of the orbit wide (in an area where ground witnesses had not seen tankers all day) to move behind Tanker 86, and the pilot would likely have been focusing on Tanker 86 out of his left side window. Tanker 87 was on line direct to the center of the fire on a path that witnesses had not observed tankers use that day. Reconstruction of the positions of the airplanes disclosed that Tankers 86 and 91 would have been directly in front of Tanker 87, and Tanker 92 would have been wide to his left. Ground witnesses said that Tanker 87 had cleared a ridgeline just prior to the collision, and this ridgeline could have masked both collision aircraft from the visual perspective of the respective pilots. The right propeller, engine, and cockpit of Tanker 92 contacted and separated the empennage of Tanker 87. The propeller chop was about 47 degrees counterclockwise to the longitudinal axis of Tanker 87 as viewed from the top. The collision appeared to have occurred about 2,500 feet, which was below orbit altitude. CDF had no standard operating manual, no established reporting or entry point for the holding orbits, and a tanker could enter any point of the orbit from any direction. While no standardized procedures were encoded in an operating manual, a CDF training syllabus noted that a tanker was not to enter an orbit until establishing positive radio contact with the AirTac. The entering tanker would approach 1,000 feet below AirTac's altitude and stay in a left orbit that was similar to a salad bowl, high and wide enough to see and clear all other tankers until locating the tanker that it was to follow, then adjust speed and altitude to fall in behind the preceding airplane.
Probable cause:
The failure of both pilots to maintain an adequate visual lookout. The failure of the pilot in Tanker 87 to comply with suggested procedures regarding positive radio contact and orbit entry was a factor.
Final Report:

Crash of a Grumman S-2E Tracker in Hopland: 1 killed

Date & Time: Aug 27, 2001 at 1840 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N442DF
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Site:
Schedule:
Ukiah - Ukiah
MSN:
255
YOM:
1952
Flight number:
Tanker 92
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Captain / Total flying hours:
12725
Captain / Total hours on type:
340.00
Aircraft flight hours:
9868
Circumstances:
During an aerial fire suppression mission for the California Department of Forestry (CDF), two Grumman TS-2A airplanes, operating as Tanker 92 (N442DF) and Tanker 87 (N450DF), collided in flight while in a holding pattern awaiting a retardant drop assignment on the fire. All of the airplanes fighting the fire were TS-2A's, painted in identical paint schemes. The Air Tactical Group Supervisor (AirTac) was orbiting clockwise 1,000 feet above the tankers, who were in a counterclockwise orbit at 3,000 feet mean sea level (msl). The pilots of both aircraft involved in the collision had previously made several drops on the fire. Records from the Air Tac show that Tankers 86, 91, and 92 were in orbit, and investigation found that Tanker 87 was inbound to enter the orbit after reloading at a nearby airport base. AirTac would write down the tanker numbers as they made their 3-minutes-out call, and usually ordered their drops in the same order as their check-in. The AirTac's log recorded the sequence 86, 91, 21, and 92. The log did not contain an entry for Tanker 87. Other pilots on frequency did not recall hearing Tanker 87 check in. Based on clock codes with 12-o'clock being north, the tankers were in the following approximate positions of the orbit when the collision occurred. Tanker 92 was at the 2-o'clock position; Tanker 86 was turning in at the 5-o'clock position; and Tanker 91 was in the 7-o'clock position. The AirTac's log indicated that Tanker 92 was going to move up in sequence and follow Tanker 86 in order to drop immediately after him. Post accident examination determined that Tanker 92's flaps were down, indicating that the pilot had configured the airplane for a drop. Tanker 92 swung out of the orbit wide (in an area where ground witnesses had not seen tankers all day) to move behind Tanker 86, and the pilot would likely have been focusing on Tanker 86 out of his left side window. Tanker 87 was on line direct to the center of the fire on a path that witnesses had not observed tankers use that day. Reconstruction of the positions of the airplanes disclosed that Tankers 86 and 91 would have been directly in front of Tanker 87, and Tanker 92 would have been wide to his left. Ground witnesses said that Tanker 87 had cleared a ridgeline just prior to the collision, and this ridgeline could have masked both collision aircraft from the visual perspective of the respective pilots. The right propeller, engine, and cockpit of Tanker 92 contacted and separated the empennage of Tanker 87. The propeller chop was about 47 degrees counterclockwise to the longitudinal axis of Tanker 87 as viewed from the top. The collision appeared to have occurred about 2,500 feet, which was below orbit altitude. CDF had no standard operating manual, no established reporting or entry point for the holding orbits, and a tanker could enter any point of the orbit from any direction. While no standardized procedures were encoded in an operating manual, a CDF training syllabus noted that a tanker was not to enter an orbit until establishing positive radio contact with the AirTac. The entering tanker would approach 1,000 feet below AirTac's altitude and stay in a left orbit that was similar to a salad bowl, high and wide enough to see and clear all other tankers until locating the tanker that it was to follow, then adjust speed and altitude to fall in behind the preceding airplane.
Probable cause:
The failure of both pilots to maintain an adequate visual lookout. The failure of the pilot in Tanker 87 to comply with suggested procedures regarding positive radio contact and orbit entry was a factor.
Final Report:

Crash of a Lockheed C-130A-6-LM Hercules in Burzet: 2 killed

Date & Time: Sep 6, 2000 at 0903 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N116TG
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Site:
Schedule:
Marseille - Aubenas - Marseille
MSN:
3086
YOM:
1957
Flight number:
Tanker 82
Location:
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
4
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
2
Circumstances:
In the early morning, the four engine aircraft departed Marseille-Marignane on a positioning flight to Aubenas-Vals-Lanas Airport, Ardeche, where the crew was briefed about a forest fire in the region of Burzet, some 15 km northwest of Aubenas. The aircraft departed Aubenas with two Canadair CL-415 and was dispatched to the area on fire under callsign 'Tanker 82'. A first drop was completed successfully and while completing a second low pass, the aircraft struck trees and crashed on hilly terrain. Two crew members were seriously injured while two others were killed.
Crew:
Ted Hobard, pilot,
Paul Trinque, copilot, †
Jo WILLIAMS, navigator, †
Ted MEYER, mechanic.

Crash of a Canadair CL-215-1A10 near Volos: 2 killed

Date & Time: Jul 15, 2000
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
1048
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Site:
Schedule:
Volos - Volos
MSN:
1048
YOM:
1974
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
2
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
2
Circumstances:
The crew departed Volos-Nea Anchialos Airport on a fire fighting mission over Mt Pelion, about 10 km northeast of Volos. While flying at low height, the crew was preparing to drop water when the right wing struck the ground. The aircraft crashed and exploded, killing both pilots.

Crash of a Douglas B-26C-25-DT Invader in Grande Prairie

Date & Time: Jun 29, 2000 at 2219 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
CF-EZX
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Loon River - La Biche Lake - Grand Prairie
MSN:
18807
YOM:
1943
Country:
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Circumstances:
The pilot, sole on board, departed Loon River Airport on a fire fighting mission to La Biche Lake under callsign Tanker 3. While returning to Grand Prairie Airport, on final approach to runway 25, both engines failed almost simultaneously. The pilot attempted an emergency landing when the aircraft crashed 3 km short of runway. The pilot was injured and the aircraft was damaged beyond repair.
Probable cause:
Double engine failure on final approach due to a fuel exhaustion.

Crash of an IAI Arava 201 in Mexico

Date & Time: Dec 31, 1998
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Country:
Crew on board:
0
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Circumstances:
The aircraft crashed in unknown circumstances somewhere in Mexico while engaged in a fire fighting mission. Occupant's fate unknown. The accident occurred somewhere in 1998, exact date unknown.

Crash of a Grumman TS-2A Tracker near Banning: 1 killed

Date & Time: Oct 5, 1998 at 1236 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N416DF
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Site:
Schedule:
Hemet - Hemet
MSN:
613
YOM:
1958
Flight number:
Tanker 96
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Captain / Total flying hours:
16680
Captain / Total hours on type:
865.00
Aircraft flight hours:
10849
Circumstances:
The air tanker pilot was on a fire suppression mission with fire retardant chemicals aboard, and had made two previous drops on the fire line. Another tanker and spotter pilot witnessed the last drop approach, and reported that the pilot was turning from base leg to the westerly drop heading downwind while in a 60-degree left bank. The aircraft suddenly rolled left to 90 degrees, and at that point the left wing tip struck the terrain. The winds were estimated by the tanker pilots to be 25 to 30 mph with gusts to 40 plus from the east. The pilots also reported turbulence and bad air. Airmet Tango was issued for turbulence and isolated severe conditions mainly below 10,000 in the vicinity of canyons and passes.
Probable cause:
The pilot misjudged his maneuvering altitude. Factors to this accident were the mountainous terrain, tailwind conditions, and turbulence in the area.
Final Report:

Crash of a Lockheed P2V-7-SP-2H Neptune in Reserve: 2 killed

Date & Time: Jun 27, 1998 at 2024 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N14835
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Site:
Schedule:
Silver City - Silver City
MSN:
148358
YOM:
1961
Flight number:
Tanker 08
Crew on board:
2
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
2
Captain / Total flying hours:
8337
Captain / Total hours on type:
291.00
Aircraft flight hours:
7815
Circumstances:
The airplane had made a dry pass on the fire zone, then circled around to make a second pass and release its load of 2,450 gallons of retardant. According to witnesses, the airplane struck trees while in a nose low, right wing low attitude. Upon ground impact, the airplane exploded and burned. Investigation revealed no evidence of preimpact airframe, engine, propeller, or flight control failure/malfunction. The first officer, an initial attack trainee pilot, was in the left seat and the captain was in the right seat. Toxicology tests of the first officer indicated 0.031 ug/ml brompheniramine, 0.011 ug/ml chlorpheniramine in kidney fluid, and 0.142 brompheniramine, 0.072 chlorpheniramine in liver fluid. Both medications are over-the-counter antihistamines with sedative effects.
Probable cause:
Failure of the copilot to maintain both lateral and vertical clearance from the trees, and failure of the captain to provide adequate supervision of the flight.
Final Report:

Crash of a Canadian Vickers PBV-1A Canso A in the San Vicente Reservoir

Date & Time: Aug 1, 1997 at 1500 LT
Registration:
N322FA
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Santa Ana - Santa Ana
MSN:
CV-560
YOM:
1944
Crew on board:
2
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Captain / Total flying hours:
10200
Captain / Total hours on type:
160.00
Aircraft flight hours:
17427
Circumstances:
After touching down to scoop another load of water, the pilot added power and the aircraft pitched forward. The pilot heard a pop and felt a sudden decelerative force. When the nose began to bowsuck, he applied more back pressure but the aircraft did not respond. The floor split open and water began rushing into the cockpit. The left nose gear door locking pin was found separated from its hydraulic actuator. It displayed a bend that corresponded to its retracted position in the pin guide. The deformation prevented investigators from reinserting the damaged pin back through the guide. The left mycarta block remained attached to the door and did not exhibit any damage.
Probable cause:
The implosion of the unlocked left nose gear door which resulted in the hydraulic disintegration of the forward fuselage. The cause of the locking pin actuator malfunction was not determined.
Final Report:

Crash of a Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon in Blandburg: 2 killed

Date & Time: Apr 20, 1997 at 1437 LT
Type of aircraft:
Registration:
N6856C
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Philipsburg - Philipsburg
MSN:
15-1156
YOM:
1944
Flight number:
Tanker 38
Crew on board:
2
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
2
Captain / Total flying hours:
2000
Captain / Total hours on type:
170.00
Aircraft flight hours:
3497
Circumstances:
The pilot/owner of an air tanker was dispatched to drop a load of retardant on a fire burning up a valley wall. The pilot made radio contact with the firefighters on the ground, who requested that the pilot deliver the entire load on the first drop. A helicopter pilot who was dropping water on the fire positioned himself about a mile away to allow the air tanker to make its drop. The winds were from the northwest at 15 knots and gusting to 20 knots, and the helicopter pilot reported turbulence in the area. The helicopter pilot watched as the air tanker came from the northeast, overflew the fire, and made a descending counterclockwise turn. The airplane flew towards the fire parallel to the valley ridge, and the helicopter pilot observed the air tanker drop its retardant. During the drop, the airplane flew through smoke, and its right wing impacted trees on the upslope side of the valley. The airplane then rolled 90 degrees and descended into the steeply inclined wooded terrain. A review of the pilot's FAA medical records revealed that he lacked color vision.
Probable cause:
Pilot in command misjudged his maneuvering altitude. Factors to this accident were the mountainous terrain, windy conditions, turbulence in the area, and smoke.
Final Report: