Although the ground crew at Montgomery Regional Airport had discussed safety twice shortly before an American Eagle flight arrived at its gate on New Year’s Eve, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, when Courtney Edwards was found in the plane’s engine was “swallowed”, the protocol was clearly not followed. A preliminary report of the incident was released on Monday.
As the pilot began to shut down the right engine of the Embraer 170, he received an alert that the front cargo door was being opened, the report said.
American Eagle’s ground operations manual states that crews “may not approach an aircraft to place ground equipment next to the aircraft or open cargo bin doors until the engines are stopped and the rotating beacons are turned off.” except when operating a permitted single engine turn.” ,” according to preliminary reports.
The flight’s first officer then opened his cockpit window to tell a ramp agent that the aircraft’s engines were still running. The pilot then saw a warning light and the aircraft “shook violently” as the left engine immediately shut down.
The ground crew had a security meeting 10 minutes before the aircraft arrived at the gate and a “safety circle” was conducted immediately after the aircraft arrived at the gate “to reiterate that the engines will continue to run until ground power is connected, the report said.
“It was also discussed that the airplane should not be approached, and that the diamond of the safety cone should not be set until the engine has stopped, spooled down, and the airplane is free to rotate.” The beacon light may have been extinguished by the flight crew,” the report was quoted as saying.
The NTSB said the crash was captured on surveillance footage, which showed the plane being marshalled at the gate.
After a chock was placed on the nose wheel to prevent the aircraft from moving forward, the ramp agent marshaling the aircraft walked toward the front cargo door on the right side of the undercarriage, near the front of the aircraft.
Meanwhile, Edwards walked to the rear of the plane with an orange safety cone before disappearing from view.
A third agent was pointing with his hand to the rear of the aircraft by the right wing tip.
A fourth agent knelt down near the nose wheel of the aircraft.
Edwards then reappeared on the footage and began walking away from the aircraft towards the tip of the left wing before disappearing again.
The agent who was marshalling the aircraft could be seen retreating through the open forward cargo door of the airplane and Edwards appeared to be walking along the leading edge of the left wing and directly in front of the left engine.
“He was subsequently dragged by his feet and into the operating engine,” the report said.
The aircraft’s overhead rotating beacon light illuminated during the crash.