James Horner was killed in a crash of his fantastic turbo-prop “Tucano” aircraft in the Los Padres national forest near the town of Ventucopa, California near Quatal in Ventura County in the hills of Santa Barbra. He owned the aircraft which was listed as a Short S-312 Tucano MK1 turbo-prop with two seats based on the Brazilian Embraer EMB 312 Tucano.
The Short Tucano version is fitted with the more powerful 1,100 shaft horsepower Garrett turboprop engine in place of the Embraer’s 750 shp Pratt & Whitney PT6 engine to give higher climb performance.
The aircraft handling is similar to that of a jet aircraft. It is fully aerobatic providing an excellent workhorse for training fast-jet pilots in all aspects of military flying. It is used to develop students in a full range of skills, including general aircraft handling, formation flying and low-level navigation. Due to its comprehensive avionics and ice-protection packages, it can be flown in all types of weather, by day and by night. The Tucano’s all-weather flying capability, plus its excellent endurance, allows a great measure of flexibility in the training role. It is also used as a light attack aircraft. It is not an aircraft for a novice pilot.
Rough landing strips are no problem for the Super Tucano, which is designed for austere field operations, with a rugged landing gear, high ground clearance and low-pressure tires. That means the Tucano should have easily handled the terrain where the aircraft with James Horner in it crashed.
The Wing Span is 37 feet. That’s smaller than many so called small aircraft. It’s 32 feet, 4 inches long and 11 feet 2 inches high. The maximum speed is 345 miles an hour and it weighs 6,000 with full fuel tanks. It has 1,150 horsepower and takes 182 gallons of jet fuel, (kerosene).
A-29 Super Tucano Won an Air Force Bid for Light Air Support Mission Aircraft
The Tocano is a Combat-proven, low-risk solution offered by Sierra Nevada Corporation and Embraer Defense & Security. More than 100 U.S. companies supply parts for the Florida-built aircraft
The following announcement was made in SPARKS, Nev., Feb. 27, 2013 which is the home of Sierra Nevada Corporation. – Eren Ozmen, president of Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announced today that the U.S. Air Force (USAF) has selected SNC and its partner Embraer Defense and Security for its Light Air Support (LAS) program. After a thorough rebidding process, the USAF again deemed the A-29 Super Tucano aircraft, and the overall solution offered by SNC, to be the superior choice for this critical mission. The initial $427.5 million delivery order is to supply the USAF with 20 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft. That works out to $21.375 million per aircraft.

As the aircraft selected for the LAS program, the A-29 Super Tucano will be used to provide light air support, reconnaissance and training capabilities to the Afghanistan military. As such, it is a vital element of the United States’ Afghan withdrawal strategy and central to maintaining security in that region going forward. The LAS program also will provide the United States and other partner nations with important capabilities for agile, flexible, economical, new-generation multi-role airpower.

“The Light Air Support program is essential to the United States’ objectives in Afghanistan and to our national security. It is a great honor to serve our country by providing the aircraft, training and support for this program,” said Taco Gilbert, vice president of Integrated Tactical Solutions for SNC’s Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance business area. “The A-29 Super Tucano with its proven track record is exactly what’s needed for the LAS program where the mission is critical and time is short. We will deliver a superior product, on-time and on-budget.”
The A-29 aircraft for the LAS program was to be built in Jacksonville, Fla. At the Sierra Nevada factory on Cole Flyer Road.
The price of a used Tucano MK1 might have been around one million dollars. It is an advanced aircraft that is difficult to fly because it is fully aerobatic which means it can perform difficult flying maneuvers which cannot be flown by conventional aircraft. Apparently there were no witnesses to the crash that killed James Horner so there’s no way to know what happened that caused the crash but the Tocano enjoys an excellent reputation. There could have been a malfunction but the Tucano has an ejection seat system that military pilots will use if there is an uncontrolled fire or the aircraft has a loss of flight controls.
Horner’s friends said he loved flying and in the Tocano he would have been in a most enviable position flying an aircraft few civilian pilots would ever see let alone fly. Whatever happened it’s a tragedy on several levels. While it’s premature to comment on the cause of the crash in many similar situations it is usually found to be pilot error. The error is not usually explained and in many cases it’s impossible for the investigators to pinpoint the cause. In a crash like this there is usually no black box from which the flight path could be determined. There is radar in the area and it’s possible that the track of the aircraft was recorded. The investigators may be able to piece something together from the radar track but that’s not usually released except in unusual circumstances.
What would cause a sophisticated and strongly built military aircraft to crash? Why wasn’t the aircraft able to safely land on the terrain that is seen in the photographs around the crash site? After all, the Tucano is designed to land on rough terrain. Even if the terrain was far rougher than the design rough terrain, the aircraft might have been able to land wheels up and the pilot might have been able to walk away from the landing.

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