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Walking between prop blades

Old 11th May 2022, 17:20
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Walking between prop blades

I flew as a passenger on an ATR on a (young and obscure) commercial airline within the EU between 2 airports each with over 1m pax per years
At both the departure and arrival airports, while the ATR was chocked, I saw ground staff walking between the blades of the propellors as a shortcut to the baggage door, immediately before unchocking and immediately after chocking

This strikes me as a rather bad idea if one values one's physical health, but I tend to be rather cautious when it comes to anything involving electrics or moving parts.

Is walking between prop blades something that just happens at airports to which a blind eye is usually turned ?
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Old 12th May 2022, 13:11
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Don't know, but as you say it is a very bad habit to get into - it could easily kill you one day.

Most, if not all, ground staff will not venture onto the ramp at all while the aircraft red beacon is on, (= engines running or about to run), so in theory they will be safe, but even so.........
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Old 12th May 2022, 16:14
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Never walk through the arc of a prop, my Gran always used to say to me. Wise woman.
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Old 12th May 2022, 16:47
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It used to be, and I hope still is in most places, that a sleeve would be put on one of the blades and tethered to the u/c or suitable point to prevent it wind-milling.
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Old 12th May 2022, 18:18
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Originally Posted by S.o.S. View Post
It used to be, and I hope still is in most places, that a sleeve would be put on one of the blades and tethered to the u/c or suitable point to prevent it wind-milling.
I don't think that nowadays ground staff have time to do that on an average turnround.

Most of the (fortunately few) workers who have been killed or seriously injured by a prop on the ramp have walked into a spinning one, which can be difficult to see in certain conditions.

My longstanding respect for props stems from a spell at LHR in the 70s when (among other things) I did turnrounds on Ilyushin Il-18s, where the ground power receptacle was midships, roughly abeam the engines, and of course you didn't disconnect it until all 4 Ivchenkos were running ...

PPRuNe: Safety around propellers
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Old 13th May 2022, 14:17
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We had a saying on Shacks - " If the front one doesn't get you..........the back one will"
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Old 13th May 2022, 15:30
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Of course the danger of being in the habit of walking 'through' a propellor that is not going round, or just slowly windmilling, is that on the day when the cargo hold door needs to be checked or opened for whatever reason after the engines have been started just before pushback.......the same route might be followed by the ground crew.

They will have ear defenders on, so cannot hear shouted warnings, and cannot localise the noise as being the propellor in front of them, which of course disappears when it is rotating fast..............
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Old 13th May 2022, 18:08
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It is the same familiarity that causes the big turbofans to pick up people and containers. This is but one example but there are many and, unfortunately, humans too.


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Old 13th May 2022, 18:50
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I remember an old leading hand (RN) regaling me with a dit when he got charged with assault. He had spotted a WREN marshalling a Gannet onto a spot at Prestwick. To him, she seemed mesmerised by the prop/props and she was way too close for the pilot to see her, frozen in front of the A/C. Instinctively, he reached for wooden chock and chucked it at her, dropping her to the ground just before she was blended. May have saved her life but up before the C/O on defaulters!
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Old 14th May 2022, 08:25
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Originally Posted by welshwaffu View Post
I remember an old leading hand (RN) regaling me with a dit when he got charged with assault. He had spotted a WREN marshalling a Gannet onto a spot at Prestwick. To him, she seemed mesmerised by the prop/props and she was way too close for the pilot to see her, frozen in front of the A/C. Instinctively, he reached for wooden chock and chucked it at her, dropping her to the ground just before she was blended. May have saved her life but up before the C/O on defaulters!
Given the mesmeric and stroboscopic effects of props are well known, sounds about right for military "management " ....instead of a commendation for potentially saving her life.

For the OP, "some time ago " at the RAF's country spa retreat near Wendover, the message, accompanied by some very lurid "cartoon " style excellent flight safety posters from that era, was very simple " ALWAYS treat a prop as " LIVE ! "....and that stays with you I can assure you.

Yes, there is obviously a difference between a turbo-prop, which, if it decides to windmill, is going to hurt you.. a lot.. and a piston prop which will simply shred you into various size chunks.

But, the adage remains the same.

Witnessed more than a few G/A aircraft being helped along by people tugging on the prop..." not a clever idea " and one memorable day, for him, listened along with others, as it was "explained in simple, easy to understand, words " to a newly arrived individual at Dishforth gliding club who was happily about to reach for the prop on a Lycoming Chipmunk why his parentage and intellect may be questionable
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Old 15th May 2022, 11:35
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Hello welshwaffu and welcome to the cabin, I don't think I've seen you here as I would have remembered such a name!

Null Orifice A sensible warning. I recall hearing from an engineer on Hercules that, if they could not get one of them to self-start (lack of power and no power kart at an outstation) they would start another Herc and park it in front of the Herc without power. Then rev up in front against chocks and get the props behind windmilling until they could start them!! you would need to admire that from a distance...
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Old 15th May 2022, 15:44
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About 20 years ago I can remember walking out as a domestic passenger late afternoon at Adelaide - everyone walked down a painted strip about 4-5 metres wide between all sorts of stuff arriving, starting up, taxiing about - and no physical separation at all - it was like being on the decks of a WW2 aircraft carrier
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