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Safety around propellers

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Safety around propellers

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Old 7th Jun 2015, 16:20
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Safety around propellers

A sad accident, perhaps complacency or distraction. This was probably a very experienced pilot, a moment's inattention - it can happen to any of us...

Clark J. Baldwin, 62, of Wasilla, a well-known pilot and flight instructor, was killed Thursday morning when he was struck by the propeller of his plane, National Park Service spokesperson Robyn Broyles told Channel 2 News.
Baldwin, a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the United States Air Force and owner of the Alaska Club Training Specialists flight school, was teaching a class at the Peavine bar strip about 15 miles east of McCarthy Thursday morning, Broyles said.
"Baldwin was the only operator of the plane at the time and was instructing a small group of pilots when he got out of his plane was struck and killed by the propellers of his plane," Broyles told Channel 2 News.
Pilot dead Thursday after walking into propeller of plane in Alaska National Park | Local News - KTUU.com Anchorage
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Old 7th Jun 2015, 19:35
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Gulf Air carried a passenger one day ('70s) from Doha to Abu Dhabi, in a Fokker F27-400.

Subsequent investigation showed that he (a European) was concerned about his suitcase to the point of obsession. At check-in he wanted to take it in the cabin; when this was refused he wanted assurances from all concerned that it would be safe, and he was visibly distressed by losing control of the bag.

Nowadays he would have been hauled off by security for a thorough going-over, but we weren't so sophisticated then.

In GF F27s ( and most others) the baggage was loaded via a freight door into a compartment forward of the cabin, and offloaded by the same route. Passengers embarked and disembarked via a rear door, using a small set of steps wheeled up by hand.

As soon as the aircraft came to a halt in Abu Dhabi, he was out of his seat to be first in the queue to get off. The door was opened, and the steps appeared. He ran down them, and immediately ran under the wing and nacelle. The conclusion drawn later was that he did that to check on his suitcase.

Unfortunately, he could not assist with the enquiry because the engine was still running down. So the propeller was rotating, perhaps at about 200 RPM, and he was terminally sliced.

For the sake of quick turnrounds it was the practice until that time to place the stairs and start disembarkation even if the port prop. was still turning.

Our SOPs were changed swiftly to forbid any ground activity until both props were motionless, and the UK CAA (Gulf Air was still regulated by CAA at the time) then introduced the rule about placing a tape from the doors to the port-side wingtip on all propeller aircraft before any disembarkation could start.

As they say, most aviation rules are written in blood, and I can personally assure you that there was plenty of that.

On another occasion, a loader lost all the fingers on one hand trying to stop a very slowly rotating prop by grabbing a blade. The F27-400 had the square ended, very sharp tips on the blades. My maths is not what it was, but even at 30 RPM, with a disc of, say, 12M circumference, each tip is moving at 6m/sec (21.6 KPH, I think) with an enormous amount of energy behind it, but will appear to be almost stopped.

Last edited by old,not bold; 7th Jun 2015 at 19:50.
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Old 7th Jun 2015, 21:51
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This happened to an equally experienced pilot over here: https://assets.digital.cabinet-offic...BHPK_10-12.pdf
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Old 8th Jun 2015, 08:55
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Another F27 prop accident occurred on stand 5 at EDI years ago when an Air UK GPU driver inadvertently selected reverse instead of forward gear when driving the GPU away after engine start. The cab was struck by the prop and he died instantly. This resulted in the SOP that GPU's must always be parked alongside aircraft in such a way that they are not in line with the prop arc.
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Old 10th Jun 2015, 10:42
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It was instilled in me as a junior ATC cadet to STAY CLEAR of the ARC of the PROPELLOR!
One of my squadron officers told us of the case where a cadet had been too close, had pointed at something, then saw a hand on the ground in front of him. He'd picked it up before shock set in and he realised it was his own hand.
NB: I'm not sure if this was a true story!

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Old 13th Jun 2015, 21:21
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It's not lack of knowledge of props that kills; it's complacency and that can happen to any of us.

Last edited by thing; 14th Jun 2015 at 01:46.
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Old 17th Jun 2015, 11:16
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seat in row 6 where much of my body is directly inline with the spinning prop
It's fun to watch the blades flew, and the tip plane move fore and aft with the application of thrust though!

During my formative years, I came to know pilot Tony. Tony was known for daring beyond the regular (which eventually claimed his life), and grass roots flying. Tony wore a somewhat tattered, but obviously prized leather flying jacket. Rather than a crest on the back, it had a swirly red smeared on stain.I asked....

Apparently Tony was standing, chatting one day, with inadequate regard for the Taylorcraft idling behind him. He was drawn into the turning prop by the suction, and could not lean forward to extract himself. He had to wait until someone ran around and shut it down. During this time, the "skull cap" spinner smeared its red paint into his back.

I can't imagine being that casual about turning propellers, but apparently it was possible!
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Old 17th Jun 2015, 16:55
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Then there as always this incident

BBC News - Gyrocopter pilot cleared over huntsman death

http://www.pprune.org/rotorheads/365...er-charge.html
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Old 17th Jun 2015, 19:37
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Added bonus was reverse thrust away from airport terminal buildings. A rare treat in these days of tug pushbacks.
A friend and I had occasion back the '80's to fuel stop in Cairo in a Twin Otter. I combination of events had left us very dis satisfied with the ground handling to get fuel. We were marshalled up to near the terminal building, nose in, and then denied a pushback. My friend said something under his breath, then "get in" to me. He fired up, and backed out. My most vivid memory was a blizzard of garbage raining back down, as we neatly taxiied away...
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Old 17th Jun 2015, 19:45
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A late uncle was a Lanc pilot during WW2; after landing from a raid, it was not unusual for crew members to exit while the engines were being shut down. On this occasion, one of the young lads climbed down, but instead of walking to the rear of the aircraft, walked forward into one of the idling props and was instantly killed.
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Old 17th Jun 2015, 22:13
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You don't need to be running the engine. Maintenance, especially if two or more are working, perhaps on separate tasks, can be dangerous.
When a father and son team were working on a C182 in Colorado, the starter accidentally kicked, decapitating the father. Both were fully qualified.
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Old 18th Jun 2015, 01:42
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Originally Posted by 27mm View Post
A late uncle was a Lanc pilot during WW2; after landing from a raid, it was not unusual for crew members to exit while the engines were being shut down. On this occasion, one of the young lads climbed down, but instead of walking to the rear of the aircraft, walked forward into one of the idling props and was instantly killed.
I read an article in a magazine some years ago documenting how people had walked through idling props without being touched, usually big radials. On one occasion, the guy realised what he had just done and fainted!!
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Old 7th Jul 2015, 20:27
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I read an article in a magazine some years ago documenting how people had walked through idling props without being touched, usually big radials. On one occasion, the guy realised what he had just done and fainted!!
My school metalwork teacher did his national service in the RAF maintaining Washingtons (Boeing B-29). He described this occurred on their squadron. I've also heard it mentioned in the case of a Vickers Wellington.

Mechta Senior did some trials work on HMS Eagle, and in the relatively short time he was aboard, the cruise included a burial at sea for someone who had walked into a propeller of a Fairey Gannet. Assuming both engines were running, you wouldn't stand much chance with a contra-rotating prop.
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Old 8th Jul 2015, 04:00
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I guess, having been taught to hand swing an engine from an early age, propellor dangers have remained a major concern whenever I'm near them. Propellers worry me, they have no friends.

We are creatures of habit, who see only what is expected so we can tend to naturally place ourselves in danger around Propellors. I'm dismayed now days at the complacency (or is it just ignorance?) I see on the Tarmac by CPLs and instructors: arms and hands passing through the prop arc, photos taken lounging against the prop and head-in-the-cockpit as the starter motor is engaged with a simultaneous cry of "clear prop" - but never a glance at the danger area.

In the days before Hi Vis vests, it was common practice to brief everyone on propellor dangers; especially visitors, passengers and students. I think the lessons, of the sad sad story, related in post #11 should be part of this briefing.

You don't need to be running the engine. Maintenance, especially if two or more are working, perhaps on separate tasks, can be dangerous.
When a father and son team were working on a C182 in Colorado, the starter accidentally kicked, decapitating the father. Both were fully qualified.

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Old 9th Jul 2015, 13:16
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Teaching people to feel the propeller leading edge is the start of teaching no respect of the propeller arc.

Pilots posing for pictures within the propeller arc is another bad habit.

If you never walk into the propeller arc you cant be hit by it unless it flys off!
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Old 9th Jul 2015, 19:15
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Originally Posted by old,not bold View Post

On another occasion, a loader lost all the fingers on one hand trying to stop a very slowly rotating prop by grabbing a blade. The F27-400 had the square ended, very sharp tips on the blades. My maths is not what it was, but even at 30 RPM, with a disc of, say, 12M circumference, each tip is moving at 6m/sec (21.6 KPH, I think) with an enormous amount of energy behind it, but will appear to be almost stopped.
I have in the old days seen a cocky engineer placing his hand on each passing Dowty Rotol blade on the HS-748 as it wound down in its last few rpm. I suppose it caught on as it looked kind of cool.

But there was a petite female apprentice who did this with gloved hand one day. The leading edge of these aircraft had many nicks from gravel operations and when a leading edge blade that had a jagged metal edge caught onto her glove, it picked her up and she went around with the blade. Fortunately no serious injuries.
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Old 9th Jul 2015, 19:31
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A bit more detail.....

The pilot, 62-year-old Clark J. (Jay) Baldwin, was instructing a group of fellow pilots in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park/Preserve Thursday when the apparent accident took place.

Five small planes, including Baldwin’s, were idling near each other on the Peavine Bar airstrip 15 miles east of McCarthy when one of them began to roll. Witnesses later told Park Service officials that Baldwin attempted to stop the rolling plane and, in doing so, accidentally walked backwards into the propeller of his own Piper PA-18 Super Cub aircraft, according to Robin Broyles, spokesperson with the NPS.


It just shows the danger of being around props that are running. No doubt he was on alert but as soon as something serious happened, all of a sudden the primary hazard can be forgotten. Reminds me of the mechanic near a jet engine inlet that was operating. The wind caught his ball cap and he went after it until he got sucked into the engine.

I have taught two or three people about hand propping techniques. One thing I mentioned was, that even if the most beautiful girl in the world is seen to be walking across the ramp nearby completely naked(well perhaps in high heels), you don't care while you are near the prop. And don't wear a hat.
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Old 9th Jul 2015, 20:32
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I was on watch at Heathrow when a ground engineer walked straight through the prop of a Dash 7 about to taxi. Incomprehensible how such an experienced person could do such a thing.
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Old 10th Jul 2015, 01:09
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It must be distraction. I remember many years ago as a ground crew guy we used to have a Fairchild metro scheduled flight come in and like all the aircraft, they always used ground power until after engine start.

Guess where the plug-in was? On the engine nacelle behind the prop so we had to walk in front of the wing but behind the prop to unplug it. Strict paranoia is required in this situation when given the disconnect signal by the pilot. Walk far out toward the wingtip and then as approaching, I would keep one hand always on the leading edge of the wing as I approached to unplug and then walked back toward the wingtip as this meant that I was not within range of the prop arc. Then come back to drive the GPU away.

I don't remember any particular direction being given to us by the company on what specifically to do for the various aircraft hazards based on all different types, just a general briefing that there was a hazard and perhaps specifics about the most frequent aircraft serviced such as waiting 30 seconds after a CFM-56 engine shutdown before approaching. I was a licenced pilot at the time and well aware but there was no shortage of young newbies. You have to come up with your own plan for many situations. The first step in the plan is be paranoid.

In more recent times when removing chocks from aircraft such as a light aircraft that has been hand-propped with engine running, I am continuously saying to myself that the prop is running. I think we need to just pre-brief(or remind oneself) for a few seconds that if something goes wrong, such as the plug-in or chock cannot be removed then stop, perhaps carefully move out of the way and consider. And if something happens such as a backfire or aircraft starts moving what will we do. Keep your arms close to your body can be part of that self-briefing. That being said, finding an alternative to chocks near props is a good idea. Why have chocks in if the aircraft has a park brake and pilot on board.

In the Alaska case, it sounds like there may have been multiple airplanes with engines running. Is suspect that if it can happen to this guy, it can happen to any of us. Beware the unanticipated situations.

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Old 11th Jul 2015, 07:20
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Agree with all posts. I was taught from Day One PROPELLERS CAN AND WILL KILL!

The CFI of my training school used to come down like a ton of bricks if ANYONE was observed to disregard even the tiniest points of prop safety. An actual insertion of his flying boot into one's arse was part of the procedure. He used to say most propeller fatalities were not so much complacency but momentary fatal distraction.

The only prop injury I ever saw was a drooling barking mutt get his ear knocked off by a taxiing Cherokee. Stupid canine.
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