Airport worker sucked into jet engine warned to back off

An American Eagle Embraer 170, similar to the aircraft involved in the incident.

An American Eagle Embraer 170, similar to the aircraft involved in the incident.
Photo: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images (Getty Images)

Last month, the National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report on a shocking incident that took place at Montgomery Regional Airport in Alabama. On New Year’s Eve 2022, an Envoy Air employee was killed afterwards be sucked into the jet engine of an Embraer 170. NTSB investigators have now laid out the sequence of events leading up to the accident.

The plane involved in the fatal incident landed after a flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Montgomery. While the American Eagle the flight was uneventful, the Embraer’s auxiliary power unit (APU) not working during the flight. The APU powers all non-propulsion of the aircraft equipmentincluding electrical, pneumatic and hydraulic systems. As a result, the pilots chose to leave the jet of the small plane running engines until the aircraft was connected to ground power.

Reportedly, ground crews were twice informed that the plane’s jet engines would run while the plane was parked. The first officer on the flight even reminded the ramp agents of this through the cockpit window. The NTSB report states:

“Ground crew reported that a safety briefing was held approximately 10 minutes before the aircraft arrived at the gate. Shortly before the aircraft arrived at the gate, a second safety meeting was held to reiterate that the engines would continue to run until ground power was connected. It was also discussed that the aircraft should not be approached and that the safety cones window should not be installed until the engines had been shut down, flushed down and the aircraft’s flashing light extinguished by the flight crew.

According to the NTSB, despite these multiple warnings, video surveillance footage from the airport shows the unnamed disaster agent walking around the Embraer plane and stepping in front of the number one jet engine while it is still running. The images show how the agent is pulled up and pulled into the turbine. The pilots felt the plane shake violently and the number one engine automatically shut off.

According to other workers on sitehad the disaster agent already been knocked over once by the engine’s exhaust and warned to stay clear of the engines before the fatal incident.

The report notes that the American Eagle employee manual specifies “the intake zone for all aircraft types is 4.5 meters,and that personnel should not enter the intake zone until an aircraft’s engine or engines have completely shut down and come to a stop.

The NTSBs findings are preliminary, and more information may come to light as the investigation progresses.

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