The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently reviewed an incident that occurred on New Year’s Eve, where a ground crew worker was killed at an airport in Montgomery, Alabama. The worker was sucked into the engine of an airplane to which it “shook violently” and shut off with a “bang”, it was reported.
The deceased individual has been identified as Courtney Edwards, 34, a mother of three children. The preliminary report from the safety board states that the aircraft had an inoperative auxiliary power unit and that its captain signaled for it to be connected to ground power after arriving at the airport, opting to “leave both engines running for the required two-minute engine cool down period.”
The report says the captain was shutting off the plane’s right engine, he received a message that the aircraft’s front cargo door had opened and “the first officer opened his cockpit window to inform the ramp agent that the engines were still operating.”
The NTSB investigation found that the captain then told passengers to remain seated until the seat belt sign turned off and said to his colleague that the airplane’s left engine would be shut down after it was connected to ground power.
“Immediately thereafter, he saw a warning light illuminate and the airplane shook violently followed by the immediate automatic shutdown of the number 1 [left] engine,” the report notes. “Unsure of what had occurred, he extinguished the emergency lights and shut off both batteries before leaving the flight deck to investigate.”
The NTSB, citing captured surveillance video, said Edwards was “walking along the leading edge of the left-wing and directly in front of the number one engine” before she was “subsequently pulled off her feet and into the operating engine.”
“Throughout the course of the accident, the airplane’s upper rotating beacon light,” which warns ground crews that the engines are currently in operation, “appeared to be illuminated,” the safety board claimed. The report said prior to the plane’s arrival, the ramp agents held multiple safety briefings “to reiterate that the engines would remain running until ground power was connected,” to ensure that ramp agents would stay out of harm’s way.”
It was also emphasized that the airplane should not be approached, and the diamond of safety cones should not be set until the engines were off, spooled down, and the airplane’s rotating beacon light had been extinguished by the flight crew,” the report continued.
A GoFundMe set up for the deceased worker said:
Hi, My name is Donielle Prophete and I’m the President of the CWA (Communication Workers of America) Local 3645. Our Union Local represents the Piedmont Airline’s Ground Handling agents (Ramp & Customer Service) from 24 stations in NC, SC, GA, AL, MS, FL, TN & KY. On December 31st, one of our Montgomery Alabama agents’, Courtney Edwards, was fatally injured in an on-the-job accident.
Courtney was a Ground Handling agent for Piedmont Airlines, a subsidiary of American Airlines, a loving mother of 3 kids and a wonderful daughter to her beloved mother, Natalie English of Montgomery, Alabama. Please know that this tragedy has and will affect her mother, family, friends and kids for years to come.
Our Local would like to ask you to help us raise money for her 3 beautiful kids to help cover funeral expenses, day-to-day expenses and any other expenses needed to care for the children. All proceeds raised are going directly to her mother, Natalie, for the care of Courtney’s kids. We appreciate any support you could offer during this most tragic time.
By: Will Tanner. Follow me on Twitter @Will_Tanner_1
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