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Air India engineer sucked into an aircraft engine at Mumbai

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Air India engineer sucked into an aircraft engine at Mumbai

Old 17th Dec 2015, 10:04
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I am sure you can't be sucked into an engine in idle mode from the nose gear position

He was either closer or engines we higher than idle
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Old 17th Dec 2015, 10:09
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I read they had an APU inop, and were in the midst of a cross bleed start... Indian news paper.
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Old 17th Dec 2015, 10:39
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rog747,

Normal practice with a u/s APU is to crossbleed-start the second engine, as you thought. This is sometimes done during pushback, I think, although the increased thrust on the delivering engine puts a strain on whatever vehicle is being used for the pushback. Better to wait until pushback is complete and the parking brake on. If the apron is too busy, it can obviously be done before pushback, provided pier structures and ground equipment are well clear of the delivering engine.
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Old 17th Dec 2015, 11:05
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There is a suggestion on the link I posted earlier, again unconfirmed, that the tug had cleared the aircraft but the parking brake had not been applied, causing the aircraft to roll forward when power was increased on the running engine.

That's hard to believe, but if true would explain how an experienced professional could be caught off guard, with tragic results.
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Old 17th Dec 2015, 13:21
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Straying from SOP's and running engines is a bad combination, start doing that regularly [and I know, having been the innocent party on the subsequent receiving end] and the countdown counter is started....

poor guy, what a horrible death.

RIP
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Old 17th Dec 2015, 14:32
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A lot of airports don't allow more than one engine to be started at the gate. I can think of numerous reasons, one being that other engines may be too close to the aerobridge.
Excerpts from BOM 'START-UP & PUSH-BACK PROCEDURES' (Jepp page 10-1P5):

When pilot is ready for start-up, he shall seek confirmation from the ground crew for hazard free zone prior to starting ACFT engines. On receipt of the clearance, pilot shall read back the push-back clearance given by ATC, then coordinate with ground crew for push-back and start-up of the ACFT.

To expedite departure, the Pilot-In-Command may start engines (on idle power) before commencing push-back on the ACFT stand, in coordination with the ground crew.

No cross-bleed start-up by ACFT is permitted till the push-back and/or pull ahead procedure is complete and the ACFT is aligned with the taxilane/taxiway center-line marking.

Pilots shall adhere to the push-back and start-up procedures and will use minimum breakaway power.

Pilots shall use minimum taxi power when operating on the apron areas to minimize effect of jet blast in the surrounding areas.
Looks like stand 28 is a taxi out spot, over at what was the old Sahar domestic airport terminal. I don't see much other guidance for start on a taxi out spot other than the pushback procedures above.

The taxi procedure is given as:

Power out facing North-West on taxilane K1. Taxi out via taxilane K1.
Something doesn't add up.

The first report said that he was ingested when the engine started. Even if he was standing right next to the engine as it started, surely it wasn't immediately producing enough power to ingest him as it spooled up to idle.

The next report said that he was standing by the nosegear when it happened. Had that been true, we'd be killing people every day.

No doubt something horrible happened, but it doesn't seem that we have the full story yet.
As with much of U.S. media, aviation reporting in India is influenced by the tabloid news style emphasizing sensational and horrific aspects over factual reporting. At times it almost seems to me like details are invented to flesh in missing parts of the news story.

Some of these reporting discrepancies are probably due to the polyglot Indian culture.

In BOM, often the eyewitness and expert interviews in the news are conducted in Hindi or Marathi and translated into the local BOM dialect of English.

Throughout Asia and the Middle East many of our ground engineers also speak Tamil or Malayalam as well. Those folks have fixed my plane so many times over the years.

Anyway, AI mourns the loss of a colleague:

Air India offers job, Rs 5 lakh ex-gratia to dead technician's kin

By PTI | 17 Dec, 2015, 04.20PM IST

MUMBAI: Air India Chairman Ashwani Lohani today announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh [about USD $7,500 - Airbubba] and a job in the airline to the family of the AI engineer who was killed in a freak accident wherein he got sucked in by the engine.

"We have lost a family member. An ex-gratia amount of Rs 5 lakh has been given to the family. We have also offered a job to the family of the victim," Lohani told reporters at the airport today.

He said the funeral of Ravi Subramanian, in his 40s, will be held tomorrow and a two-minute silence will be observed in AI offices across the network at 11 AM.

When asked about the reason of the accident, according to him, he said since the regulator DGCA is already conducting an inquiry into the incident it will not be proper for him to comment.

However, he said "initially it seems that there was some communication gap. No disciplinary action has been taken against anyone till now".

In a freak accident last evening involving an AI flight (619, an Airbus 319) to Hyderabad from Mumbai, a service engineer, who was signalling the aircraft to reverse before take-off, got sucked in by the roaring engine and died immediately.

The impact of the engine was so hard that the remains of the body could not even be sent for postmortem.
Air India offers job, Rs 5 lakh ex-gratia to dead technician's kin - The Economic Times

Last edited by Airbubba; 17th Dec 2015 at 15:32.
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Old 17th Dec 2015, 16:37
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An A319 AOM indicates the "danger zone" for an engine at idle thrust as an area around the engine with a radius of 7.2ft, and for an engine at TO thrust as an area with a radius of 19.5ft.

For information only, for an A319, nineteen-and-a-half feet, (the danger zone when the engine is at takeoff thrust), is just behind the cockpit. One cannot possibly imagine an engine a such thrust settings during pushback or initial taxi. Seven feet is a few feet in front of the leading edge of the wing where it meets the fuselage - a long way from the nosewheel area.
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Old 17th Dec 2015, 16:52
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Devil

I remember a flight with the Chief Pilot as Captain, suddenly starting the left engine without the ground clearance and a Mekanik was standing before the engine, happily no accident but the Mekanik was very very angry. I (F/O) was terrified to see the Captain being in a hurry and doing such a dangerous action without to feel culprit nor excuse.

I did wonder how many many pilots did not respect the Mekaniks and ground Crews.
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Old 17th Dec 2015, 17:26
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Roulis, the rarity of such a terrible event shows how strictly the engine-starting routines are for air carriers.

Millions of departures over decades, and only a few such serious occurrences. Likely it is not as simple as a just matter of "respect for Mekaniks [sic] and ground Crews".

Let us be patient, for we do not yet know the circumstances surrounding this particular accident yet and how a routine engine start ended so tragically.
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Old 17th Dec 2015, 18:43
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It may be interesting to note that human ingestion events were far more likely in the days before high bypass engines became the norm. When JT3C/D and JT8D engines were the norm, people were not nearly as cautious and ingestion events were not particularly uncommon. Of course, since those engine had inlet guide vanes, an ingestion event was not automatically fatal (although they occasionally were). There is a video out there (presumably on you-tube if someone wants to search) where, during carrier ops, a crewman gets ingested into a (IIRC) A-6. The engine promptly surges and spits him back out with non-life threatening injuries.

For a surprisingly long time after big fan engines became common, there were no human ingestion events - presumably because an couple meter diameter fan, unprotected, spinning at several hundred rpm provided sufficient fear factor to keep people alert.
Unfortunately that record didn't remain intact, but given the tens of thousands of big turbofan operations that occur each and day world wide (and the lax safety standards in some areas), such events remain remarkably (and thankfully) rare.
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Old 17th Dec 2015, 20:07
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Wearing ear protection, is it possible to differentiate if more than one engine is at idle from ones sense of hearing alone?

If it is the case that one engine was not at idle is it possible to determine by hearing aline, which one when wearing ear protection?

How long does spoolup take at startup to the point where threat of ingestion is lethal?


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Old 17th Dec 2015, 23:10
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Devil

FDMII,
Of course I didn't want to suggest any responsibility in the Air India accident.

But
1. Pilot starting the engine is always specially concerned by ground Crews
2. I met some mekanik students at school and one of them said "Captains are always in a hurry". Of course we have never enough time, but I told the students they could not totally trust to pilot, they had to keep distance with that for them dangerous hurry
3. It is a sad fact, at least in civilian aviation in France, that pilots are seeing themselves like God and seeing mekaniks like robot slaves but ask them their life, rest, safety, reputation... and close the mouth about "God"s' mistakes.
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Old 18th Dec 2015, 03:28
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How long does spoolup take at startup to the point where threat of ingestion is lethal?
I believe those particular engines take somewhere in the region of 45-60s to reach idle. Even if he had been leaning against the engine as it started, surely he would have noticed it starting. Is the hearing protection that good?
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Old 18th Dec 2015, 04:15
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Some more detail:

Airport horror: scan onLapses

Ground staff and the pilots have been blaming each other.

A top Air India source said the pilots appeared to have started the engine without the ground engineers' clearance after the pushback, causing Subramaniam, who was standing before the engine, to be pulled into it.

"They started the engines as soon as Ravi gave his helper the instruction to remove the tow bar, which is clamped on during a pushback. The ATC clearance for the flight to begin taxiing came right then and the pilot asked the co-pilot to check whether both sides of the aircraft were clear," the source said.

"The co-pilot said it was and the pilot pushed the thrust lever, starting the engines, and Ravi got sucked in."
Ravi still had his headset on and was facing the tow truck with his back to the engine as his helper removed the tow bar and the pilots pulled the throttle.

"They are calling it a communication gap because they do not want to upset the pilots," said a member of the ground staff who claimed to have been present in the area at the time of the accident.

"First, the pilots did not wait for ground staff clearance before starting the engine. Second, they had to ensure that both the left and right sides of the aircraft were clear before they started the engine. This is SOP," the groundsman said.
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Old 18th Dec 2015, 05:45
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Thanks, Oliver.
This is going to be tedious.

India - where all facts have to be first processed through the sieve of 'cultural sensitivities'.
This will, no doubt, keep an army of public servants and opportunists in work for at least a year.
The pilots will then be exonerated and poor Ravi will be found to have been having 'problems at home' or somesuch.

The gushingly generous, sub-judice award to his family of $7000 and a sweeper's job for one his kids amply demonstrates AI's thoughts on the matter.
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Old 18th Dec 2015, 07:10
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK
There is a suggestion on the link I posted earlier, again unconfirmed, that the tug had cleared the aircraft but the parking brake had not been applied, causing the aircraft to roll forward when power was increased on the running engine.

That's hard to believe, but if true would explain how an experienced professional could be caught off guard, with tragic results.
That scenario is sounding more likely.

From the link a couple of posts above:

"In this case, no chocks were placed on the wheels. So, as soon as the pilot started the engine - again without following norms, like waiting for an all-clear signal from the ground engineers - the wheels of the plane moved forward and the engine sucked in the technician standing ahead."
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Old 18th Dec 2015, 08:25
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Mercifully, these incidents are rare. However, close calls do happen more often than you think. Some that I have witnessed.
1. Medium sized turboprop starts taxing before engineer was clear. (Eng had to run to avoid getting hit by the prop).
2. A large four engined jet started taxiing before the all clear had been given. The two engineers that we're walking clear hit the deck and hung on to each other as the #3 engine went over them. (I understand the captain was fired)
3. Large jet twin waiting on stand for GPU to be connected with engines running due to inop APU.
One of the turnaround team walked towards the running engine, head down, oblivious of the danger. Saved by quick thinking loaders and others yelling and waving at him.
4. Similar to no.3 but a security person walked towards and past then behind a running engine. How that didn't end in tragedy I do not know.


It's dangerous out there. Be safe and never, ever rush.
A delay means more paperwork. That's all.
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Old 18th Dec 2015, 08:55
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Whilst these incidents are rare, when they happen the consequencies are horrific.

We lost a colleague at Hatfield in similar circumstances and I sometimes think about him and all the guys who were working with him at the time and wonder whether what happened that day still has any effects on them today.

When blame is dished out it won't change things that much. It might stop another Air India employee suffering the same fate but it will happen again somewhere else around the world.

RIP JC
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Old 18th Dec 2015, 09:11
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I remember this happening at British Aerospace Hatfield in 1980s, mentioned here before

http://www.pprune.org/engineers-tech...00-engine.html
http://www.pprune.org/questions/9496...ave-stand.html

Only factual report I can find
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...page&q&f=false

Not much changed in standards in Journalism

Sadly history keeps repeating

http://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/3...gine-test.html
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Old 18th Dec 2015, 16:00
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I was initially wondering why there would be a pushback or towbar involved if the aircraft was indeed on taxi out stand 28 as reported.

That 'Power out facing North-West on taxilane K1. Taxi out via taxilane K1.' instruction quoted earlier seems to be removed in the latest Jepp revision.

But, the crossbleed start guidance is still there: 'No cross-bleed start-up by ACFT is permitted till the push-back and/or pull ahead procedure is complete and the ACFT is aligned with the taxilane/taxiway center-line marking.'

So, was the plane towed to K1 after the first engine start to assure clearance to run up the power to start the second engine? And to avoid a higher than usual thrust setting on one engine with a row of aircraft behind on stands 34 through 40?

Whatever the case, APU inop start is an unusual situation, everyone's startup workflows are not normal, there are several options and I always try hard to make sure we all have the same plan. Sometimes you start one engine in the blocks, sometimes two if the huffer hose and connection permit, or do the crossbleed start etc.

And, speaking of single engine taxi, there is some PTU or something that makes the A319 sound like skeletons on a tin roof back in the cabin during single engine taxi as I recall from riding in one a while back.
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