Company issues statement about the drop gate on the air tanker that crashed in Idaho

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The company that manufactures the gate that allows the retardant to be dropped from the Single Engine Air Tanker that crashed in Idaho September 22, 2020 said the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board to their knowledge have not released preliminary findings regarding the cause of the crash.

Ricky Fulton was killed while flying the Air Tractor 802A when it crashed while attempting to drop retardant on a wildfire southeast of Emmett, Idaho.

On September 24, 2020 KWTV – NEWS9 reported that Mr. Fulton’s family said, “The preliminary finding from the FAA is saying that the dump gate malfunctioned and didn’t open to dump the fire retardant, so he wasn’t able to pull up over the ridge,”

Victor Trotter, President/CTO of Trotter Controls that made the gate, said, “Neither FAA or the NTSB has made any preliminary statements or findings regarding the cause or possible causes of the crash. We have not been notified that a gate malfunction contributed to the incident. …Air Tractor and our company is fully cooperating with the NTSB.  Documentation related to the FAA approved documents including the operation instructions (AFM), ICA (maintenance instructions), and Installation Instructions have been forwarded to the NTSB.”

The Single Engine Air Tanker that crashed was manufactured this year and was registered for the first time July 10, 2020. It was an Air Tractor 802A, N836MM, SN 802A-0836, owned by Aero S.E.A.T. Inc. of Sterling, Colorado, and was working on a call when needed contract with the Department of the Interior.

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2 thoughts on “Company issues statement about the drop gate on the air tanker that crashed in Idaho”

  1. I’ve seen a picture of the accident site and it’s quit obvious the the tank gate was open at the time of impact.

  2. Whether the gate opens at the time of impact is really irrelevant.

    Whether it opens when you need to get rid of the load is very relevant. That time comes well before the impact, and prevents the need to jettisoning it just prior to impact.

    I’ve certainly arrived more than once at the drop and found that the load wouldn’t go, and was forced to exit the drop with the load. In each case, it was either a failure to arm the gate, or inadvertent disarming of the gate, and it’s the reason that the standard call is “T-XXX base, gate armed,” and T-XXX final, gate armed.”

    It would be very inappropriate to speculate on what occurred here, without facts in evidence.

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