A new federal investigation has found that Courtney Edwards, the 34-year-old ground worker at the Montgomery Regional Airport Alabama who died after being sucked into a jet engine on New Year’s Eve, was repeatedly told not to go near the engine before her fatal accident.
Ms Edwards was working at the airport on 31 December when an Envoy Air flight from Dallas, Texas, operating as American Eagle flight ENY3408 arrived in Montgomery, Alabama. Minutes later, she passed too close to a running engines on the plane and was killed.
A preliminary report published on Monday by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that safety protocols were not properly followed in Ms Edwards’ death.
According to the report, the plane’s pilots decided to leave the engines running for a two-minute cooldown period following the plane’s arrival at the airport until the plane could be connected to ground power.
Per the report, the pilots informed airport workers that they were leaving engines running and that the workers themselves were briefed in two separate safety meetings that the plane’s engines would be left running for a period of time following its arrival and not to approach them.
In addition to the verbal warnings, the NTSB report also states that the plane appeared to have rotating beacons illuminated to signal that the engine was still on.
The report also notes that the American Eagle Ground Operations Manual tells employees to “NEVER approach an aircraft to position ground equipment next to an aircraft or open cargo bin doors until the engines are shut down and the rotating beacon(s) turned off, except when conducting an approved single engine turn.”
As the captain of the aircraft was beginning the process of shutting down the engine on the plane’s right side, they got an alert that the the forward cargo door had been opened — at which point the plane’s first officer opened his window to tell the ramp agent that the engines were still on.
Shortly thereafter, the plane shook violently as Ms Edwards, a mother, tragically lost her life.
According to the report, a ramp agent “observed [Ms Edwards] as she began to move away from the airplane before he turned to lower the cord for the ground power. Shortly thereafter he heard a “bang” and the engine shut down.”
The preliminary NTSB report runs only four pages. It is not yet known when the NTSB will release a full, final report.