Report Says Ramp Worker Killed By ‘Running Engine’


Authorities have confirmed a ground crew worker was killed on the ramp at Montgomery Airport in Alabama on Saturday but have not confirmed some reports that a running aircraft engine was involved. The FAA said the accident occurred “where American Airlines Flight 3408, an Embraer E175, was parked.” Yahoo News is reporting that “two people briefed on the matter said the initial investigation indicates the employee was killed in an accident involving one of the airplane’s engines that was running.”

The aircraft is operated by Envoy Air, which is a subsidiary of American. The employee worked for Piedmont Airlines, which another American regional. It happened about 3 p.m. while the aircraft was being prepared for a flight to Dallas. So far, the mishap is being called an “industrial accident” and details of the circumstances have not been officially released.

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  1. Those in or retired from the industry know that, in the “commuter” side of things, an ERO is a semi-common event. Safely accomplishing these takes a real awareness on the part of the ground crew. I am NOT an expert on the E175 but the pictures I see show that it is a below the wing engine. If a baggage crew is loading something in the forward pit, they have to be careful, very careful. As details of the accident are not available, it could have been the pushback crew that erred. I say erred because this is a human error event beyond question. It appears that the worker got to close to the front end of the vacuum cleaner and got sucked in. After years of flying, loading/unloading, and otherwise working around the C-141, the B-747, the DC-8, and the ATR-42 I am stating with a clear conscious that this poor guy/gal screwed up and paid the ultimate price for that error.
    Blessings and condolences to the friends, relatives, and coworkers.

    • What’s an ERO? Engine running ______? Been in the industry 16+ years but have never heard that acronym before.

      If you’re implying that they did some sort of engine running quick turn, I can assure you that was definitely not the case. The airplane was not designed to do those sort of operations. It’s all fly-by-wire and FADEC controlled. It needs the engines to be shut down and for things to be reset to work properly. I suspect that this particular plane had an APU that was deferred, requiring a start cart and engine start at the gate before pushing back. Not a totally unusual occurrence, but definitely not routine. In that scenario, the Capt would need to start the Right engine first (due to its ducting being closest and shortest to the hook up for the start cart, minimizing pressure loss and possible abnormal engine start). Normally, the left engine would’ve been started first during pushback and used for single engine taxi if the Capt elected to do so. So now you have an engine running at the gate (dangerous), ground crew having to disconnect hoses and cables after that engine is started (dangerous), chocks must be removed by ground before pushing back with an engine running (dangerous), and the engine that is running, isn’t the one that’s usually running (doubly dangerous).

      • I think he means Engine Running Offload. I worked for a regional airline in Alaska for several years and under certain circumstances, we would do these. We operated the Saab 340 and our preference was always to start off of ground power. While most of our out-stations had GPU’s there were a few that didn’t. So if you pulled into say Aniak on a -30 day, the procedure was to leave the right engine running and execute what we called a “single-engine turn”.On the 340, most everything happened on the left side of the airplane to include pax boarding and accessing the cargo compartment. We would usually put someone up by the nose to keep anyone from wandering over to the right side of the airplane. None of our airplanes had APU’s and it was hard on the batteries if you did a battery start. Especially when it was cold. Certainly not a common procedure for us and I have no idea if it has anything to do with what happened here.

  2. In one news report they included mention of what was described as a “similar recent event” in which a baggage handler was killed when “her hair was caught in a conveyor belt loader.” Many ways to come to grief doing ramp work.

  3. This reminds of the Continental 737 accident at ELP where a mechanic troubleshooting an oil pressure indication was sucked into the right engine. Wing-mounted engines can be very treacherous to ground personnel.