ASN Aircraft accident Lockheed P-3B Orion N926AU Chico, CA
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Status:Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Date:Wednesday 20 April 2005
Type:Silhouette image of generic P3 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Lockheed P-3B Orion
Operator:Aero Union
Registration: N926AU
MSN: 185-5171
First flight: 1966
Total airframe hrs:15614
Engines: 4 Allison T56-A10W
Crew:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 0
Total:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Aircraft damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:22 km (13.8 mls) of Chico, CA (   United States of America)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Departure airport:Chico Airport, CA (CIC/KCIC), United States of America
Destination airport:Chico Airport, CA (CIC/KCIC), United States of America
The tanker aircraft had taken off from Chico qualification check flight for pilots who were scheduled to conduct firefighting operations during the upcoming fire season. The accident flight involved conducting practice drops of water over an area of rugged mountainous terrain located north of the Chico Airport. Prior to departing on the flight, the airplane was loaded with 2,550 gallons of water.
The Orion crashed and caught fire immediately following the training drop in the rugged terrain of the Lassen National Forest.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "Terrain clearance was not maintained while maneuvering for undetermined reasons. Mountainous terrain was a factor."

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 4 months
Accident number: SEA05MA085
Download report: Summary report

Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Mountain

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This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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