Accident Lockheed P-2H Neptune N14447, Sunday 3 June 2012
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Date:Sunday 3 June 2012
Type:Silhouette image of generic P2 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Lockheed P-2H Neptune
Owner/operator:Neptune Aviation Services, opf U.S. Forest Service
Registration: N14447
MSN: 826-8010
Total airframe hrs:12313 hours
Engine model:Wright R-3350-32WA Cyclone
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Substantial, written off
Location:ca 35km W of Modena, Iron County, UT -   United States of America
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Nature:Fire fighting
Departure airport:Cedar City Airport, UT (CDC/KCDC)
Destination airport:Cedar City Airport, UT (CDC/KCDC)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
A Lockheed P2V-7 Neptune (Air Tanker mod.) N14447, coded "Tanker 11", under contract to the US Forest Service, crashed about 20 miles north of Modena, Iron County, Utah, during a fire fighting operation against the White Rock Fire in the Hamblin Valley Area.
Tanker 11 departed the tanker base to conduct its second fire retardant drop of the day in the same location. Upon arriving in the fire traffic area, Tanker 11 followed the lead airplane into the drop zone, which was located in a shallow valley 0.4 mile wide and 350 feet deep. The lead airplane flew a shallow right turn onto final and then dropped to an altitude of 150 feet above the valley floor while approaching the intended drop zone. While making the right turn onto final behind the lead airplane, Tanker 11's right wing tip collided with terrain, which resulted in a rapid right yaw and subsequent impact with terrain. The wreckage created a 1,088-foot-long debris field, and a post impact fire ensued.
Two witnesses took photographs of the accident sequence photos, and an examination of these photographs showed that the lead airplane was positioned ahead of the tanker throughout the flight; however, the orientation of the lead airplane compared to the orientation of Tanker 11 indicated that Tanker 11 did not directly follow the lead airplane's path to the final drop course. Rather, it was about 700 feet left of the lead airplane's path and made a wider right turn as it attempted to align with the final drop course. The accident flight crewmembers had previously flown nearly the same exact drop and the lead pilot cautioned them about tailwind conditions during the flight; however, the wider turn suggests that they did not properly compensate for the wind conditions while maneuvering. In addition, the previous flight was conducted at an altitude above the ridgeline. GPS evidence indicates that the accident flight was conducted below the ridgeline, which would have made it more difficult to detect the rising terrain during the wider turn. A review of the airplane's cockpit voice recorder audio information revealed that the flight crew did not recognize or attempt to correct the reduced clearance between Tanker 11 and the rising terrain until about 2 seconds before impact.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The flight crew's misjudgment of terrain clearance while maneuvering for an aerial application run, which resulted in controlled flight into terrain. Contributing to the accident was the flight crew's failure to follow the lead airplane's track and to effectively compensate for the tailwind condition while maneuvering."

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: WPR12GA243
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 2 years and 3 months
Download report: Final report





photo (c) NTSB; near Modena, Iron County, UT; 03 June 2012; (publicdomain)

photo (c) NTSB; near Modena, Iron County, UT; 03 June 2012; (publicdomain)

photo (c) NTSB; June 2012; (publicdomain)

Revision history:


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