The scooping air tanker was refilling at Lake Livingston
Updated 8:53 a.m. CDT August 10, 2022
Aviation Safety Network reports that the Single Engine Air Tanker that crashed in Lake Livingston in Texas August 9 was an Air Tractor AT-802F Fire Boss (N830DA) operated by Aero Spray Inc, DBA Dauntless Air. Reportedly it lost control on takeoff after scooping water and then submerged. The pilot was rescued with unspecified injuries and treated on scene.
The image below from FlightAware shows the last flight of the aircraft.
Aviation Safety Net has records of 122 Air Tractor AT-802 mishaps since May 18, 1997 that resulted in 48 fatalities. In addition to firefighting, the aircraft is used for agricultural operations, commonly referred to as crop dusting. But without being able to drill down and know the number of accidents per 100,000 flight hours, it is difficult to determine if what may look like troublesome numbers is actually an artifact of flying a high number of hours.
7:27 p.m. CDT August 9, 2022
Tuesday afternoon, August 9, a single engine air tanker working on a wildfire in southeast Texas crashed in Lake Livingston. The pilot was quickly rescued, taken to shore, and treated.
The accident was announced by the Texas Forest Service’s Lone Star State Incident Management Team which said the agency was assisting with wildfires in the Corrigan area.
The incident occurred at about 5 p.m. CDT. Lake Livingston is 25 miles southwest of Corrigan and 55 miles northeast of Houston.
The Air Tractor 802 Fire Boss is amphibious. It has floats and can skim across the surface of a lake to refill its water tank, then fly to the fire and assist firefighters by dropping water. The Texas Forest Service does not own any air tankers, they issue contracts to private companies.
When we hear more about the condition of the pilot we will update this article. An 802 Fire Boss usually only has one person on board.
There have been two other incidents in the last seven days involving Air Tractor 802 Fire Boss air tankers.
On August 3 a Fire Boss suffered an engine failure and made a forced landing while working on a fire in British Columbia. The pilot survived.
Two days later on August 5 a Fire Boss crashed and sank in the Gulf of Elefsina while working on a fire near Nea Peramos in Greece. It occurred about 12 miles west of Athens as the air tanker was scooping water. Both crew members were rescued.
There have been three recent fatal helicopter crashes related to wildfires.
On July 16 a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office Bell UH-1H Huey helicopter crashed northeast of Albuquerque, New Mexico, killing all four on board. It had been assisting with a wildfire, providing bucket drops and other air logistics needs to fire crews on the ground.
A Boeing CH-47D helicopter crashed into the Salmon River July 20, 2022 while working on the Moose Fire in Idaho, firefighters swam across the river to extract and care for the two pilots. Unfortunately, both of the pilots died from their injuries.
On June 26 a Bell UH-1B operated by Northern Pioneer Helicopters out of Big Lake, Alaska was attempting to assist firefighters by hauling equipment to the Clear Fire by a 125-foot long line. It was maneuvering at the Clear Airport 53 miles southwest of Fairbanks about 140 feet above the ground to have the end of the long line connected to the cargo. A loud noise was heard and the helicopter fell to the ground, killing the pilot, the only person on board.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom.