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American Airlines fined $15K after mom of 3 was ‘violently’ sucked into plane’s engine on New Year’s Eve

A regional subsidiary of American Airlines was hit with a $15,625 fine by federal safety regulators over the death of a ground crew worker who was sucked into the engine of a plane at an Alabama airport on New Year’s Eve. ( More...

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Greg S 32
The article does not mention anything specific the airline allegedly did wrong. It says they held two safety briefings immediately prior to the incident that covered waiting for the engines to shut down. So what was the issue?
pjshield 23
The problem seems to be they didn't use cartoons to illustrate the dangers involved with Jet engines.
sparkie624 3
They allow some to walk on the ramp without proper supervision and got to close to an engine.. the only way that could have happened is if the ramp crew was not watching or paying attention.
Steve Smith 11
She was ground crew. She had training, and exactly how do you test someone's skill in observing the flashing beacon? And who said she didn't have "proper supervision"?
Steve Smith 5
Sorry about double post. On the first button click nothing seems to happen, so I punched it again.
Ric Wernicke 4
I learned in Little League that you had to "be in the game" the whole time. It's hard when you're 6, but you learn.
Jim Mitchell 5
or drunk. It was New Years eve after all.
TWA55 2
I have seen this with very close fatal consequences.
James Simms 0
We’ll never know, but could have been already thinking abt getting off work & attending a NYE party. Since she had three children, it’s possible they were being kept by a relative; telling them she was going to a party after work.
Steve Smith 5
She was ground crew. She had training, and exactly how do you test someone's skill in observing the flashing beacon? And who told you she didn't have "proper supervision"?
wiztom 30
The NTSB report suggested Edwards failed to keep at a safe distance until the airplane's rotating beacon light shut off. Story is long on emotion short on facts.
Billy Koskie 38
What did the airline do anything wrong? At the end of the day, didn't the employee violate what they were told to do in the safety briefings? At some point, an employee has responsibility for following instructions, don't they? Horrible thing to have happen, but a token fine of a party who doesn't appear to be at fault just doesn't make sense.
Brian Anderson 8
It would be interesting to know how long she had held the job. Was she a brand new employee trying to show some ambition by getting that door open quickly? Or a seasoned veteran who should have known better??
George Hall 6
I agree with Billy. The airline pilots had a little difficulty and didn't shut it down in a timely matter as usual. Sounds like the ground crew lady was approaching the plane based on time and didn't pay attention to the plane with head phones on. However, OSHA knows best, right? Always favoring the individual. They love lawsuits that's pending. She let that safety meeting go in one ear and out the other.
EMK69 5
Yes she did that was proven, however, like many OSHA regulations once come to mind with a good friend who oversees a very large Healthcare system across the U.S., for safety and security. One of the forklift drivers who had been written up 2 times for unsafe acts drove off the dock. OSHA comes along and looks at the training records. The manager of that Hospital had carefully documented 40 hours of training on proper forklift techniques. OSHA says: He should have gotten 41 hours of training....the Healthcare paid $200,000 fine.
EMK69 -2
Yes, she did that was proven, however, like many OSHA regulations once come to mind with a good friend who oversees a very large Healthcare system across the U.S., for safety and security. One of the forklift drivers who had been written up 2 times for unsafe acts drove off the dock. OSHA comes along and looks at the training records. The manager of that Hospital had carefully documented 40 hours of training on proper forklift techniques. OSHA says: He should have gotten 41 hours of training....the Healthcare paid $200,000 fine.
Rosomak 2
And OSHA would be right.

If the driver wasn’t ready after 40 hours he should have received additional training.

We do this in aviation training all the time. Very few people get their private pilot certificate right at 40 hours. 40 is just the minimum. Most take 50-55.
David Rice 1
Isn't the national average more like 70?
James Simms 1
I recall during my time in the military, not only did we receive mandatory’Safety Briefings’ prior to weekends (& especially three day weekends during a holiday); we were required to have the Motor Pool inspect the service members privately owned vehicles (POV).

As one off the staff, I made a point to have my vehicle inspected to set the example. But when I was all said & done, whether a SM was involved in a drunken brawl, DUI, or worse, a highway accident (fatal or non-fatal); it always came back to fall on the Commander. No matter how much preparation & preventive measures (crossing the t’s or dotting the i’s) were taken.
Chris Bryant 26
"Violently" sucked into an engine?
I'm not sure there's a gentle way for that to happen.
Brian Chandler 17
She walked where she was undoubtably trained not to walk with engines on. There shouldn't be a fine for the stupid decisions of people who were told not to do that. It's her fault, not theirs.
Ron Slater 17
From what I understand, the APU was inop, and the crew had told the station that they were going to keep one engine running until the GPU was connected and that was the reason there was a briefing to the ground crew. She clearly violated the "cone of safety".
avionik99 24
Why did they state "Mom of 3"? Does that mean, if she wasn't a mom of 3, it would have been less tragic? I am surprised they didn't call her out on her race?
Dale Ballok 14
Totally agree. Just another sensationalized heading to catch your attention. At first, it makes you think she was a passenger.
jhakunti -6
Didn't have to, you did for them.
although i have sympathy for the friends and family of the ramp employee who died in the tragedy,ramp personnel are advised many times over to be cautious around aircraft,whether its a jet engine or a prop, and not to approach either until the engines are completely shut down..if this person was in a "safety"meeting not long before this aircraft came to the gate,did she not heed nor understand what she was trained or told NOT to do??from the article it states the captain had an indicator light showing the cargo door was being opened,and he had not yet shut down the engines..the person must have been a totally new emoloyee,or just decided to ignore safety briefings and regulations..
coinflyer 23
Why was the airline fined at all when the worker had undergone a safety briefing not but 10 minutes earlier warning her of precisely this danger, and then she goes and commits the prohibited dangerous action? This was purely Darwin's law of natural selection in action, and the airline should appeal the fine on principle.
Yassine Cherfouni 11
To my surprise, I have noticed someone Stating “ the victim was “ An African- American “ ?
It is is irrelevant and a strange statement.
The victim was a human being, whether the color of the skin is .
An American is an American and Worked for American.
Rest in peace with all due respect. My sincere condolences to the family of the victim.
srobak 3
Yet the media and social justice warriors will always make race the prominent fact in any slight or injury caused - as long as it is against people of European descent.
Gloria Johns 0
I was hoping you had moved to another aviation website.
srobak 0
Happy to have disappointed you. Been here for longer than you - and will be here long after you are gone.
At times some people take every opportunity to point the finger to the pilots . There’s no such thing as a timing to shut of engines.
Pilots on the ground has enough tasks to worry about and focus on what’s going on inside the cockpit and in front of them .
Ramp supervisors, ramp Managers and chief Managers coordinate the ground and the surrounding of the aircraft.
They do brief their ground crew and keep radio channels open .
Let’s let the victim’s soul rest in peace .
Tottie Mitchell 7
Not long ago I was watching ground crew at a regional airport and thought of this tragic incident in Alabama. I noticed a staff member of the airport also looking pensively out the window. I mentioned AL incident and she replied that in the previous week, a girl loading bags had gotten her hair caught and had her scalp removed. I innocently asked if she was ok- no, she died was the reply. I have renewed respect for these ground crew employees who work rain, sleet, heat and more every day.
Doug Haviland 3
Flight deck and airport ramps have always been and always will be extremely dangerous places to work. Requires a clear mind and your head on a swivel. RIP
Astn D 3
100% not the airlines fault for this incident. I 100% agree with Brian Chandler on this matter, how t”here should not be fines for stupid actions people who were told not to do what they did”
An Awareness red flag and a lesson to be learned from this unfortunate and unnecessary incident.
The powerful engine ballast is very serious matter, so powerful that it can flip a passing vehicle.
The ground personnel (s) ramp agents are responsible to keep a safe and calculated distance (s) from Airline employees, Airline vehicles and other language tags .
It is one of the first lessons taught at the Airline academy for ramp certification.
No airline wants to be in this situation.
Phil Nolden 3
Fatigue? Was she working a double shift?
TWA55 3
This is a very sad event, but non the less, this is not a job to be taken lightly. As a former supervisor and ramp operations manager, before leaving the industry, I saw big cuts in training being taken by carriers, which included the "majors". I am not sure that this danger is given the attention it should. Engine danger's above all else must be monitored at all times and a ramp crew must not get to comfortable in working around aircraft. Ask anyone on the deck of an aircraft carrier during flt ops. Stay alert, and understand the dangers posed to yourself and others.
John Taylor 3
Is there a "non-violent" way to get sucked into an engine? I worked around props and jets for almost forty years. I learned early to keep a deep respect for them while running. I've seen hats, line badges and even a field jacket get sucked into an engine that was hanging from a fire bottle. And what difference does it make that she was a "mom of three"? While it's sad anyway, that is not a factor in her incident. And if the airline had done anything wrong the fine would have been considerably higher than $15k. You can bet on that.
sparkie624 4
The more I look at this, it appears that the power of the engine was severely under estimated! You have to be careful around those intakes... There are rules for everything and most of those rules were paid for in blood.. I wonder what this woman's blood is going to pay for in extra Training and policies!
srobak 6
The beacon was on. That is the training and the policy. Pretty damned simple - and if someone cannot follow that, then they don't even have any business manipulating kitchen knives.
lynx318 3
Also told NOT to approach plane until engine is stopped seems damn obvious instruction. Unless lady wasn't knowing any English.
Colin Seftel 7
That's a surprisingly small fine, considering the consequences.
pjshield 16
A fine is imposed to correct something that was done incorrectly. Were the briefings substandard or presented improperly? Otherwise, no real reason to impose a fine.
srobak 12
Actually I think it is a surprisingly large fine against a party who was not responsible for causing the consequences.

It also sets a very dangerous precedent - and could quite possibly kick open the door for things like holding gun manufacturers liable for crimes committed by individuals with their products (bare with me here a moment...)

The problem is that it will not stop there. Ford will be held liable when Joe.Schmoe is 3 sheets to the wind OR when Sexy.Sally is TikkyTocking her narcissistic selfieness - each while driving their Explorer down the road and ends up killing someone.

To bring this fully back around once it continues down the slope - it also eventually means that not only is just the airline going to be fined and/or held responsible in such an instance - but that a civil case for wrongful death could be opened against the pilot individually - as the engines were under his control, and it will cost him his career. On top of that - GE or RR will be on the hook as well because they made those big, round, loud, spinny things. Think it's not possible? With something like having happened - trust me when I say that it is.

I bet there are injury lawyers absolutely salivating over the potentials this action is going to open up for the future.
TERRY Smith 8
That is only to cover the legalities of the situation. Next the family will bring a civil suit and claim billions in reparation.
David Rice 2
Billions? No, just no. Also, no one would claim such a settlement as "reparations".
srobak 4
LOL.... you haven't spent much time in the US over the past decade, have you?
linbb 2
Thats surprising stupid that any ground crew member would be so stupid letting it happen. But nothing new when people are around aircraft. Way before jet engines sucked people prop planes were have there propellers walked into. Its on the employer to train all ground crew about hazards, BUT having some follow instructions is another thing they cannot control only by either disciplinary action or outright firing them.
Brian Anderson 5
I was once assigned the job of changing a propeller on a Twin Otter which had a bent blade due to having killed a passenger who had gotten off the plane and walked through it. It was kinda creepy work...
OnTheAve -7
The victim was African-American.
David Rice 2
srobak -6
David Rice 2
No, no. If someone wants to make allegations of racism, they need to step up and defend their position.
srobak 1
You really haven't been paying attention to society in America the last several years, have ya?
mimana 2
I think the young lady got distracted and did not pay attention to the state of the plane's engines. It is very tragic and sad she lost her life in a misstep. I would also think training not being strong enough to provide sound conduct and safety on the tarmac. $15K is not an amount that will affect American in any case.
Kevin Keswick 2
What a horrible way to die, one of the worst. Can you imagine getting sucked into a jet engine!
Tim Dyck 1
I’m thinking it would bd pretty fast and relatively pain free. There are worse ways to die on the job but I would perfer everyone go home healthy.
Dale Ballok 3
She apparently wasn’t thinking. It stated the accident occurred on New Years Eve, but not the time. I could see a scenario where she would be getting off work prior to 12:00, and thinking about celebrating the New Year after leaving work and not concentrating on her work.
James Simms 2
Said the same thing above & was dinged for it
Jim Mitchell 2
with the half empty mickey in her cover-alls
Phil Nolden 2
Fatigue? Was she working a double shift?
Tim Dyck 1
$15K is all a human life is worth these days?
Bill Overdue 1
Clearly, a racist plane on a racist tarmac! Where's Boot Edge Edge and his "racist plausibility" speech?
Joe Keifer 0
What did OSHA do with the money?
David Rice 5
Search for "who receives the money from OSHA fines" in Google:
"...all collected fines are sent directly to the U.S. Treasury's general fund..."
Terry Briggs -3
From most of the comments here it would appear that those commenters are perfect people who have never made a mistake. The amount of insensitivity and hatred shown by many Flightaware members is most disturbing.
srobak 7
We all make mistakes. We just don't expect other people to pay for them or take the blame when it is our own damned fault.
James Simms 2
Agree. Most are more forgiving than others. We can generally get away w/‘minor’ mistakes driving. In the case of aviation, most mistakes, however ‘Minor’ are not. This one was not.
David Rice 0
LOL.... you haven't spent much time in the US over the past decade, have you?
srobak 2
To a degree this is sadly, indeed true. But - it doesn't mean it needs to be supported, enabled, encouraged or acted upon in a way that legitimizes it. Real people with an ounce of sense do not expect other people to pay for the mistakes they themselves make.
David Rice -1
Disturbing, but not really surprising.
garciamvy Garcia -3
$15k? That’s compensation? Pathetic. AA’s operations are deteriorating beyond belief.
srobak 8
How was this AA's fault exactly?
David Rice 3
Fines are generally not imposed to address compensation. That is what the (assumed) upcoming civil court proceeding will be about. Fines are supposed to be for "behavior modification"; so perhaps your outrage should be "$15k won't modify AAs behavior". You can thank me later for correcting your flawed, but apparently well meaning thought process ;-)
srobak 7
There is nothing about AA's behaviour that would have prevented this, if modified.
Ric Wernicke 5
I have been down this road. Because a worker was injured when she ventured too close to a 600v panel that was open while under test. We had training to construct a barrier of stanchions and ropes to prevent untrained people from entering the area. Then you had to train staff not to cross the rope. We were fined 235K, but truthfully we were always concerned with the safety of untrained staff.
Marcos Sandoval -5
That’s accidents happen because some people not compliant with operational safety protocols. However, is a truly pathetic that the fine was only of 15K for a major accident.
srobak 7
You're contradicting yourself. Why would one entity have to pay for an entirely different entity's failure to comply with operational safety protocols?
mikewixted 1
Yes, you can blame an individual for violating a safety protocol, but the employer is also responsible that a safety culture exists and that employees adhere to it. No fatal accident happens in isolation, usually multiple failures need to happen. To paraphrase what Terry said above, no one is perfect and it is much easier (and effective) to be a Monday morning quarterback. No one is able to say with 100% certainty that the crew member observed the beacon and chose to disregarded the active warning beacon, because the only person to say that is dead. We can speculate that she must have seen it and still approached, but we will never know what caused her to take the actions she did. A little humility would not hurt anyone speculating here.
John Taylor 3
I spent my whole life working around running engines and it easy to get complacent when you can't actually see the air being sucked into the intake. I have gotten closer than I should once or twice in my years but by the grace of God I wasn't killed. But I knew full well the danger and it was no one else's fault if I had gotten sucked in. And if you don't think the USAF has and enforces a culture of safety, you're sadly mistaken. You can take a horse to water but you can't make it drink. From what I read elsewhere, she had been warned before for getting too close to the inlet. Sounds like she just didn't pay attention or care that she was violating safety rules.
srobak 6
Either she saw it and disregarded or she didn't look. Those are not multiple levels of failure any more than if someone points a loaded gun at their own hand and pulls the trigger - either with eyes opened or closed. It 100% falls on the individual.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

John Taylor 4
That low fine indicates to me the FAA knew the airline did nothing wrong but had to make a token gesture because she was "a mom of three". But the fact is, she was at fault and had been briefed and trained.
srobak 1
I think you need to try reading the whole story and the investigative report.


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