Update: Ramp Worker Ingested By Delta A319 Engine


For the second time in six months, an airline ramp worker has been ingested by a jet engine. The FAA has confirmed the Delta Air Lines worker was killed at the San Antonio Airport late Friday. “An airport ramp worker was involved in an accident in the gate area at San Antonio International Airport around 10:30 p.m. local time on Friday, June 23, while a jetliner was pulling up to the terminal. Delta Flight 1111, an Airbus A319, had just arrived from Los Angeles International Airport,” the FAA said in a statement. The NTSB released a statement saying the aircraft was taxiing to the gate on one engine when the incident occurred.

Update: On Monday (June 26) the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death of the ramp worker to be a suicide. Accordingly, the National Transportation Safety Board has canceled its investigation into the incident. “There were no operational safety issues with the airplane or the airport,” the NTSB wrote in a statement.

Meanwhile, American Airlines has been fined $15,565 by the Occupational Health and Safety Association (OSHA) for safety violations in the death of a Piedmont Airlines ramp worker on Dec. 31, 2022. The NTSB preliminary report said the worker had been told in two separate meetings just before the arrival of the aircraft to stay away from the engines on the Envoy E175 until they had been shut down and the aircraft’s beacon was off. Piedmont and Envoy are both wholly owned American subsidiaries. One of the pilots also warned the ramp agent that the engines were still running. The report said the mother of three was carrying a safety cone when she was plucked off her feet and ingested by the engine.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. “American Airlines has been fined $15,565 by the Occupational Health and Safety Association (OSHA) for safety violations in the death of a Piedmont Airlines ramp worker” Gee, I know you can’t put price on a human life, but $15K is pretty sad. OSHA has fined companies more (far more) than that for safety violations that did not result in death or injury.

  2. It sounds to me like employee incompetence, or not paying attention. When the beacon is flashing, you stay clear of the engines, which was not done. It is tragic that it happened, and I have sympathy for the survivors, but ramps are not a place to be careless.

    • Rampers also get treated like absolute garbage, especially by regionals and contractors like Menzies or Unifi.

      They’re working an extremely physical job around a lot of

    • “It sounds to me like employee incompetence, or not paying attention.”

      Actually, it wasn’t incompetence or not paying attention. It was suicide.

    • Tim S is correct. Airlines talk safety to ground crews, and insist that cargo doors be opened within time limits or else the ramper gets reprimanded. Many times over the years I’ve had cargo doors opened while the right engine was still running. I now shut down he right engine before blocking in every time for this reason. The company is covered because of “training, policies and procedures” meanwhile supervisors browbeat ramp workers to hurry up ignoring safety. It’s an industry problem, not an individual airline problem.

  3. And then there’s baggage carts, belt loaders, fuel trucks, all running around at speed, multiple ways to get killed on the ramp. It’s amazing that the death toll is so low.

  4. “The NTSB preliminary report said the worker had been told in two separate meetings just before the arrival of the aircraft to stay away from the engines on the Envoy E175 until they had been shut down and the aircraft’s beacon was off.”
    There should not have been a fine in the first place. That only opens the door for needless civil litigation over an incident that was wholly the employee’s fault. Everyone feels bad for the survivors’ loss, but short of putting employees on a leash, what else could American have done?

    • What else could have American done? After more than one warning, move her to the baggage area or … fire her?

      • She didn’t have a personal warning; she attended safety meetings. From the prelim report:

        “The ground crew reported that a safety briefing was held about 10 minutes before the airplane arrived at the gate. A second safety “huddle” was held shortly before the airplane arrived at the gate, to reiterate that the engines would remain running until ground power was connected. 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.”

        • Perhaps safety theater instead of actual active supervision and management? I saw this in the Army. If your people are conscientious and well led, the box check meetings are overkill. If not, they are a waste of time that aren’t being listened to, and not actually be being seriously performed.

          Of course, the leadership has covered their buttocks successfully and that’s what’s really important.

      • What else could American have done? As a layman a few things come as obvious. But if possible in engine design implement some sort of safety precaution that might prevent allowance of bodies injection. (Square Peg Round Hole) Or/And Form physical impediment near hazards with stringent protocol in work environment! Remove any worker ability to encounter running engine hazards! Oh and I’d like to hear more on this suicide by airplane engine story!

  5. It seems to me that American Airlines (subsidiary Eagle etc..) had done all it could do short of firing this employee for not following the safety protocols put in place by the airline. I am with the others that commented, what else could AA do? I am no stranger to the ramp either. I have performed thousands of walk arounds on AA ramps as a pilot for AA for 34 years. Many a time waiting in the clear while my aircraft pulled into the gate with the engines running.

    • According to the video, some of the Envoy ramp workers were trying to get the attention of their obvious colleague, but to no avail. If all the ramp workers were issued radio headsets so they could communicate in a noisy environment while engines are running, there might be fewer of these accidents. However, that doesn’t absolve the individual of responsibility to remain alert.
      There cause of this recent Delta accident remains to be determined.
      There are only two such accidents in recent memory amid 45,000 flights per day in the US. That’s actually a testament to the high level of safety we have achieved.

  6. Airlines need to be much more selective in the hiring of staff at every level. The seniority of below the wing staff gave a false impression that safety was a given just because they made the job look easy. It’s not a job anyone can or should do. Everyone brings certain attitudes and aptitudes to their jobs and if an applicant doesn’t display them in the interview, it’s in everyone’s best interest not to offer them the job, no matter how badly the airline needs to staff the position.

    • Cluster analysis is interesting. Wouldn’t be surprised to see another within a few months.

  7. Sounds like improper training . A properly trained ramper knows not to approach a aircraft until the becon light is off and engines shut off and you get the the thumbs up from the marshaller that it is ok to approach. The ramp is no place for complacency or in proper training . Safety is #1!!!

  8. The Guardian is reporting that “the medical examiner” has told the NTSB that this is a suicide case.