The National Transportation Safety Board released its report on the death of a ground crew worker at Montgomery Regional Airport in Alabama on New Year’s Eve.
Courtney Edwards, 34, a ramp agent for Piedmont Airlines, died after she got sucked into the engine of an American Eagle jet that was parked at the gate.
The NTSB report said the pilot of the Embraer 170 plane operated by Envoy Air told air traffic controllers that the jet was having issues with its auxiliary power unit and asked to have the aircraft connected to ground power when it arrived at the gate.
He informed the ground crew that he would “leave both engines running for the required two-minute engine cool-down period.”
Before the plane reached the gate, the ground crew received two separate briefings and were told to avoid the engines until they were powered down.
When the pilot got an alert that the front cargo door had been opened, the co-pilot opened the window and warned the gate agent the engines were still operational. In addition, a rotating light on the plane indicating the engines were on was flashing.
The report also said that another warned Edwards about the danger after she was nearly knocked down by the exhaust from the jet.
“It was also discussed 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 said.
Despite multiple warnings, Edwards approached the engine and was sucked in. She was killed instantly.
“Immediately thereafter, [the pilot] saw a warning light illuminate, and the airplane shook violently, followed by the immediate automatic shutdown of the number 1 [left] engine,” the report said. “Unsure of what had occurred, he extinguished the emergency lights and shut off both batteries before leaving the flight deck to investigate.”