View Full Version : Ramp worker killed by prop

6th Aug 2001, 22:08
From: http://www.faa.gov/avr/aai/iirform.htm

Reg. No.: 935HA M/M: DH8A Desc: DHC-8-100 DASH 8 (E-9, CT-142,
Activity: Business Phase: Standing GA-A/C: Air Taxi (Commuter)

Seems there's at least one of these a year somewhere.
Heads up, people.

6th Aug 2001, 23:51
Instead of being

7th Aug 2001, 08:22
Mince meat. Would you like Cheese on top of your cottage pie???

Cyclic Hotline
7th Aug 2001, 10:02
Im afraid it happens with a much greater regularity than once a year.

Accidents involving people, props, jet intakes, main and tail rotor blades occur with alarming regularity!

You can never be too careful on a working ramp! I have met a woman who walked into a prop as a very young girl (terrible long-term outcome) and a mechanic who was struck on the head by a tail rotor (changed him, but he is still a capable worker). Many of my colleagues and acquaintances who have been involved in similar accidents were severely affected themselves.

Unfortunately, as I say, these acccidents occur far to often, you don't need to look far;

**** 08/06/2001 Preliminary Accident/Incident Data Record 3 ****
A. Type: A Mid Air: N Missing: N Entry date: 07/31/2001

B. Reg. No.: 8358G M/M: C188 Desc: 188, A188, T188 AgWagon, AgPic
Activity: Aerial Application Phase: Standing GA-A/C: General Aviation

Awareness and safety on the ramp are everyone's responsibility. If no other positive outcome were to be achieved from these terrible accidents, it would be to ensure the topic is covered in your next safety meeting. Especially at this busy time of year!

Condolences to the family and colleagues of the individuals so sadly lost here. :(

7th Aug 2001, 10:19
Here's more on the DCA mishap:

Safety Reviewed After Death at National Airport

By Katherine Shaver
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 7, 2001; Page B05

Investigators are reviewing ground safety procedures at Reagan National Airport this week as part of their effort to determine how a US Airways Express ground crew worker was fatally injured Sunday by a commuter plane's propeller, authorities said.

Paul Schlamm, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said investigators will examine the airport's and US Airways' safety procedures "with an eye toward making recommendations that might prevent this sort of accident in the future."

The worker was killed about 5:35 p.m. Sunday after he removed a chock from beneath a wheel of a DeHavilland Dash-8 that was preparing to take off for White Plains, N.Y., said US Airways spokesman David Castelveter.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates National, identified the ramp worker yesterday as Samuel E. Harris, 47, of the Prince George's County community of Springdale.

Castelveter would not say how long Harris had worked for US Airways. He said he did not know how many US Airways workers had been killed by propellers.

He said Harris would have been "in the vicinity of" the plane's right propeller while removing the chock, a blocklike device that keeps a plane stationary after the pilot starts the engines.

The DASH-8 is a high-winged plane powered by two turboprop engines.

"Safety is the first priority in our operations on the ground and in the air," Castelveter said. "Employees are regularly reminded to stand clear of the propeller. I don't know what caused this to happen."

The accident occurred at the airport's northern end, about 100 yards from the terminal, where commuter planes park, said Tom Sullivan, a spokesman for the airport authority. Harris died at the scene, Sullivan said.

An NTSB investigator has interviewed the plane's flight crew and will review interviews that authority police conducted with some of the 29 passengers who witnessed the accident, officials said. After the accident, the passengers were taken off the plane and rerouted.

The investigation is being conducted by the NTSB, airport authority police, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry and US Airways, officials said.

7th Aug 2001, 12:38
At my Airport , our Ramp Staff just can't wait for a few seconds as aircraft (especially B737s) taxi onto stands.One will be walking with the aircraft trying to plug in the gpu.Others try to see if they can play chicken with the still rotating engines trying to chock the mainwheels !
It's just a matter of time ...... :eek:

[ 07 August 2001: Message edited by: jellybaby ]

7th Aug 2001, 16:19

Very poor taste. I see from your profile that you have something to do with a/c maintenance, I hope your family never have to go through this sad experience.

7th Aug 2001, 16:40
How could that happen ? How could all other accidents happen ?

If i would be working under the wing of an airplane with running propellers, i would
be more than careful.

What could be done to improve savety ?
I believe not very much - the workers just may not lose concentration at any time.

Perhaps the propellers could be more colourful (yellow or red), but i doubt that
would avoid further accidents ......


7th Aug 2001, 16:47

Show some F***ing respect. If some fat cockpit driver had ended this way I'm sure your reaction would have been somewhat different. Many ground crew are eager wannabees and hope one day to join us up in the office (I use to be one myself)!

7th Aug 2001, 16:57
Is it not possible to either start engines after the chocks are removed? Surely aircraft brakes are powerful enough, or have some sort of guard on the props. If any other industry were to have unguarded moving machinery the HSE would be down on them like a ton of bricks. :confused:

7th Aug 2001, 18:20
Centigrade's got it right. No chocks required for engine starts! New SOP for propeller planes should be: Set brakes, remove chocks then start the motor(s).

And recurrent training for ramp workers.

Flyin' High
7th Aug 2001, 19:14
It is not really an issue of training.... training does not stop lapses in concentration....Other issues come into play such as pressures of on-time performance etc etc

I have been guilty of it myself... concentrating on getting the aircraft back out and walk towards an engine which is still turning.

I have never understood the need for chocks at any time..... surely the brakes are strong enough.

7th Aug 2001, 19:34
Training not the issue. I think that training is very much the issue here. Yes lapses of attention occurr (sp?), but the message has to be repeated agin and again to workers who work around aircraft. Safety does come first. And as for pressure for an on time departure. There is no, repeat no handling agent management that will trade off safety against punctuality. Having worked at Servisair in the UK for 10 years and seen the aftermath of deaths like this in EDI and BFS, I can personally vough for that fact. I will also say that if any manager within Servisair was caught ignoring unsafe practices at the expense of workplace safety he/she would be fired. Gross Misconduct. Oh and Apollo, engage brain before you post [email protected] like that again, a$$hole. :mad:

7th Aug 2001, 19:54
Obviously training comes into it, but no one wants to walk into a prop. Issues such as fatigue, energy levels etc come into it. A poor bloke in NZ a few years back, well familiar with aircraft, hopped onto the wing of a cherokee while the prop was spinning and then jumped off the front of the wing. A mate saw it happen and said it was horrific.
Probably a bit simple to say it was tiredness, but...

7th Aug 2001, 23:41
Perhaps the propellers could be more colourful (yellow or red), but i doubt that
would avoid further accidents

Air UK and BIA used to paint stripes on their Herald and F27 props. I don't see them on any of the current commuters, so maybe it was found not to make any difference.
Or maybe another 'cost-saving' measure ? Nah, couldn't be.

8th Aug 2001, 02:28
Paper Tiger, DHC8 props are carbon fibre, whereas RR Dart props are steel. I don't know if you could paint Carbon Props???

8th Aug 2001, 03:20
Obviously I don't know the facts of this case, but it frightens me to see the complacency of highly trained and experienced ramp staff and engineers.
. Approaching aircraft while they're still moving, slowing down rotating propellers by hand, walking behind taxying aircraft, etc.That said, it seems to me that they're always under pressure from aircraft and airport operators to get the fastest turnaround possible. Perhaps a fact our flying colleagues would consider in the hubub of the turnaround time. Unfortunately, despite all the training that goes on on, I don't think that this sort of incident will ever be eradicated.

I think that the painted props were withdrawn due to the possible hallucinatery effect they have upon the brain.
Look at a fast rotating black and white propeller for 30 seconds, then look at the ground - there's a very good chance you'll fall over.

Nick Figaretto
8th Aug 2001, 05:35
I know that many ground crew are "afraid" of the Dash-8 propellers. Especially on the -100, where the distance between the GP receptacle and the propeller is very short.

The aircrew (or operator) generally wants the ground power plugged in before engine shut down. Normally both engines are shut down simultaneously. As the the propellers move through the Beta-range to the feathered position, the propellers give a short, positive thrust, which can cause the aircraft to "jump" forward, just as the ground crew have plugged in the GP.

Especially on icy tarmacs this is a problem, as the parking brakes don't prevent the aircraft from slipping forward.

The ground crew are risking their lives just to prevent the cabin from losing the interior lighting for a few seconds. :(


Capt Claret
8th Aug 2001, 11:00
Nick F,

Never operated a Dash on icy ground. Never had one jump forward when selecting Start/Feather, though did blow a fuel shed 20 metres once.

I've heard stories of at least two captains sending the F/O out to secure fuel panels, one on a DH8 @ night and one a Brasilia. In both cases the engines remained running whilst the poor F/O had to disembark, walk past the prop, round the back, fix the panel and return.

Now that's stupid! :eek:

8th Aug 2001, 11:12
I have seen a few close calls with propellers as well, one thing I do before jumping in the airplane and starting engines is have a quick "pre start" briefing with all the ground personnel involved, that way we all know who will be where, and what they are supposed to do ( ie. Who's my signal person, who is operating the GPU, where will they be during start up, what is their route to and from the recepticle on the aircraft to disconnect?, etc... ) Of course some times they look at me like I'm a lunatic, but I figure it's safer all around if we're all working according to the same plan. On arriving at new ( to me ) airports I am often amazed at the dangerous situation the line personnel are put in trying to provide fast service ( chocking the nose wheel with the engines still running, walking around by the airstair while the props are still spinning down to see to any needs, etc... ) damn the people who encourage them to endanger themselves like this :mad:
Unfortunately there will be accidents on the ramp no matter how many rules we make, or how we are all trained, but as long as we remain alert to the dangers, and as mentioned earlier continually try to do things as safely as possible we can at least keep quite a few of them from happening.

White Knight
8th Aug 2001, 12:45
If only.... re; centigrades and glueballs comments, however if I remember correctly on the ATR the aircraft needed to be chocked until the hydralics came on line to provide brake pressure. And the hydralics only came on line when the props were turning.
It's been 20 months since I last flew the ATR but our company SOP's had us start the No.1 engine on stand before chocks away (nosewheel only was chocked however) and brakes off for the pushback.
I think what I've just said actually would be the answer - ONLY CHOCK THE NOSEWHEEL - for engine start.
I flew an Islander years ago that had claimed the life of a ground crewman with the left prop. Bloody dangerous around a live aircraft.....

Transition Layer
9th Aug 2001, 03:04
The company I work for operates both Turboprops and Regional Jets, and attempts to maintain as much commonality as possible in receipt/dispatch procedures between the types.

As far as I am aware, the RJ only requires chocking when on bay because the park brake is released on engine shutdown (I imagine due to hydraulic pressure.) Because of this, the turboprop is also chocked when on bay so that there is a standard procedure between types, even though it does not require chocking.

At engine start, the chocks for both types are removed. Not a safety hazard at all for the RJ with rear mounted engines, but definitely one for the turboprop. Coupled with the terrible position of the GPU plug and it's not a real safe aircraft to dispatch. Anyway, that explains why my company chocks nosewheels on a turboprop.

All that aside, it is the momentary lapses of concentration that will cause these accidents. Perhaps safer procedures need to be designed in order to prevent these lapses becoming fatal.


9th Aug 2001, 09:25
All large multi-engine acft are required to have electric hyd pumps in addition to engine-driven hyd pumps. For this reason, all acft have brake pressure both prior to engines running and after they are shut down. In addition, they also have a brake pressure accumulator that will store 3000 psi (enough for 4-6 full brake applications), and the parking brake should hold adequate pressure for at least 30 minutes. The reason the parking brakes are released when chocks are installed is for cooling purposes. Here's an interesting question...why has there not been a fatality recorded in the last 15 years from a ground worker being ingested into a high bypass turbofan (such as a 737-3/4/5/6/7/8 or 757/767)? Do props get less respect? (My sympathies to the family of this person.)

Travelling Toolbox
9th Aug 2001, 10:22
My sympathies to the family. Over the years, many things have been tried to reduce the risk. Painting props (special requirements these days with composite blades,but still possible), moving ground power receptacles etc. But we still lose good people through a momentary lapse in jugement or just plain stupidity.

I remember when doing my training as an apprentice, (many years ago!) and going out on my first jet engine ground run on an F-86 Sabre. The instructors took great delight in pointing out to we youngsters that the aircraft we were running had already killed a man in active service. They had fashioned a "mouthguard" for the intake which only served to heighten the perception that it was just waiting to chew you up.

This really got our attention, and I think stayed with all of us the rest of our careers. A valuable training aid well employed.

I know hindsight is a wonderful thing, but what sort of training do these operators put there troops through to instill a "fear of god" mentality when it comes to props/intakes? The only way to treat these machines is simple - they can and will kill you if you don't maintain constant vigelance.

Let's hope that tragedies like this are not lessons lost, and warnings posted in these threads give pause to the younger ones amongst us to examine what they do around these beasts and if necessary, rethink their SOP's and adjust for safety.


9th Aug 2001, 11:56
It is an unfortunate fact of the Aviation Maintenance industry that good folks die on the ramp. It really has little to do with unawareness or stupidity. In the hectic of operation, fatigue of ramp workers, and adverse meteorological conditions, a turning prop may not be visible or audible. The same goes for intake and exhausts. Other, equally painful or even deadly accidents involving other parts of the aircraft happen regularly. During my A&P training we have been reminded daily of it. I particularly remember one instructor saying: " You wont be killing your self, rather someone else, working on the same task card, operating the item you're working on will kill you."

For all of you that have business on the ramp or in the hangar, please be aware!


9th Aug 2001, 17:50
I write ground safety articles on behalf of an IATA working group for publication in one of the international trade publictions & focused on this very issue in one of last years editions. Never mind once a year, to my knowledge there have been at least 4 similar deaths in the last 12 months.

How do you prevent it? Unfortunately I don't think that you will ever be able to 100% prevent 'accidents' as a momentary distraction or loss of concentration is all it takes. Training, procedures & awareness all play their part as do regular safety audits and correct supervision of ramp teams. In these particular cases, correst entry & exit paths to & from the gear must be defined & staff monitored to ensure they are followed.

I share the concerns of others that the desire of operators to reduce turnround times is increasing the risk of ramp staff taking dangerous, if not lethal, 'shortcuts' to get the job done in the shortest possible time. Here all parties involved, operator & ground handler, must share the blame for the consiquences, the operator for asking for the 'impossible' & the handler for agreeing to provide it.

On the up side, there is far more awareness of safety on the ramp than even a few years ago with established programmes in place at the major operators & handlers. The problem is that they all cost money and it's difficult to provide a real cost saving figure to the bean counters who cantrol all our lives, especially those of the cash strapped 3 level operators. (Before anybody gets upset, that's a generalisation as I do know several 3rd level operators who would put some majors to shame!).

You guys at the front end can help as well. If you see dangerous practices, report them. Any safety department worth its salt would follow up, either internally or with the contracted handler.

Finally, my sympathies to the families involved & I'm just thankful that 'there but for the grace of God, go I'

Airborne Hamster
9th Aug 2001, 21:57
I have humble beginnings,amongst them inserting/removing GPU cables under Viscounts and unscrewing airstart hoses from Electras(invariably at 3 o'clock am) and in both cases with two engines either side of you rotating at thousands of RPM in a cloud of choking smoke and gases.Indeed a good friend of mine at the time was the bloke involved in the ATP incident at EMA where his tug was involved in the collision of a rotating propeller('92 or '93?) on pushback.

Despite the fact that it is essential practice if not SOP to only cancell the anticoll after the propeller has ceased rotating,time and time again,ramp staff continue to come into contact with an a/c before this occurs (caterers included).
If an ASR was filed every time this happened,yes there would be a percentage more paperwork but gradually,hopefully this would filter down to prevent more deaths/accidents. Again - Sympathies.

9th Aug 2001, 23:30

Damn dangerous things.... The tug driver was very lucky (although I guess it depends on how you define luck..) in this particular instance.

Report at: http://www.aaib.detr.gov.uk/bulletin/mar99/gmanp.htm




.....obviously not the ramp worker's fault here according to the report, but when you see what a prop can do to a tug, it never ceases to amaze me that people keep on 'playing chicken' with jets and props.

10th Aug 2001, 17:02
To those that I seem to have offended,

I've seen guys walk behind still running engines to be picked up and tossed 20 feet. End result,broken arm and broken leg. I've seen guys and gals open cargo doors with anti-collision lights still turning away. End result, being Very Very lucky. I've seen more stupidity on the ramp at Toronto airport than you can all shake a stick at and it boils down to lack of training. I'll keep my company name out of this but when they pay 6.95 Canadian dollars per hour for baggage handlers, this is the end result. The real scarey part is that the airlines that we are contracted to service must be oblivious to this. Due to the airlines we service and fleet expansion, we hire more people, with less time for training. Give em a quick wip round the infield, thats an aircraft, thats a gate, thats a piece a luggage, heres a vest, get to it!! It's a BIG stress on The lead hand who not only has to ensure the A/C gets serviced, but he also has to babysit. It's not the most important job that is carried out in the aviation industry, but its a job all the same, that someone has to to. I have to look at what happend to that poor guy with a bit of humor. I do see near death experiences on a daily basis. Sorry if I've offended anyone.