Worker still attached to plane as it taxis

Dominica Sanda
AAP
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Worker still attached to plane as it taxis

A ground worker at Newcastle Airport was still attached to an aircraft when it released its brakes and began taxiing on the runway.

A ground worker at a NSW airport got the fright of his life when the Jetstar plane he was working on started its engines and began to taxi - with the worker still attached.

The A320, which was given the clear to begin taxiing on the runway at Newcastle Airport on January 25, released its brakes and increased its power while the dispatcher - who was still connected to the aircraft's nose - was awaiting clearance to disconnect, a report from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau says.

The worker noticed the taxi lights illuminate, heard the engine noise increase and watched the aircraft start to taxi before quickly disconnecting the headset and moving away from the aircraft.

In its report, the ATSB says the dispatcher, who was linked by a headset to the pilots through the nose of the plane, was walking next to the aircraft as it was pushed back from the airport's terminal.

After the push-back, the Jetstar pilot's attention was diverted to monitoring a plane in a neighbouring bay that had requested clearance to taxi to the runway.

However, the pilot didn't believe there was enough room for the other aircraft to turn around and the A320 was given permission to move first, the report says.

The bureau found the pilot checked the surroundings and sighted a tug and dispatcher near the A320 bay, mistaking that dispatcher - who had disconnected from the neighbouring plane - for their own.

"They assumed that the dispatcher near bay four was their dispatcher, who had disconnected from their aircraft while they were monitoring the bay five aircraft movements and radio communications," the report says.

Believing to be in the all-clear, the A320 then began to taxi, with the worker becoming alarmed and immediately disconnecting and moving to safety.

The incident has been called "serious" by the ATSB but the bureau also found the flight crew on board the A320 were distracted by the neighbouring plane.

A Jetstar spokesperson says the airline has "comprehensive checklists which crew are required to follow".

"Our pilots believed ground crew working on a nearby aircraft were assisting with dispatching their aircraft, which was not the case," the spokesperson said in a statement.

"We have reminded all of our flight crew of the importance of following checklists and procedures, as well as distraction management."