The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report indicating a ramp worker who was pulled into an Embraer E175 jet engine and killed at Montgomery Regional Airport on Dec. 31 had walked too close to the running engine despite warnings.
Courtney Edwards, 34, of Montgomery was killed in the incident. Edwards was a ground agent for Piedmont Airlines.
Edwards is survived by three children and her mother, among other family and friends. A gofundme campaign has raised nearly $100,000 for funeral expenses and costs associated with raising her children.
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American Eagle flight ENY3408 was a regularly scheduled passenger flight from Dallas-Fort Worth Texas to Montgomery on the afternoon of New Year's Eve, according to the report. On board were 59 passengers and four crew, none of whom were injured.
The pilot reported that it was an uneventful flight.
Upon arrival at the gate, the captain stopped the aircraft, set the parking brake and gave the hand signal to connect the plane to ground power. As he was shutting down one of the engines, he got an alert that the forward cargo door was open. The first officer opened his cockpit window to let a worker know that the engines were still operating.
"Immediately thereafter, he saw a warning light illuminate and the airplane shook violently followed by the immediate automatic shutdown of the number 1 engine," according to the report. "Unsure of what had occurred, he extinguished the emergency lights and shut off both batteries before leaving the flight deck to investigate."
Video surveillance showed Edwards walking along the edge of the left wing and in front of the first engine, which is on the left side of the aircraft.
"She was subsequently pulled off her feet and into the operating engine," according to the report.
One worker said he'd seen Edwards approach the back of the plane to set the rear safety cone. He then observed her "almost fall over from the engine's exhaust while he attempted to alert her to stay back and wait for the engines to be shut down."
Another worker yelled and waved her off because the engine was still running. She began to move away from the plane, but then he heard a "bang," and the engine shut down.
Ground crew members said they held a safety briefing about 10 minutes before the plane arrived. They had a second safety "huddle" just before the plane arrived at the gate "to reiterate that the engines would remain running until ground power was connected. It was also discussed that the airplane should not be approached" until engines were spooled down and the flight crew had turned off the rotating beacon.
The report also noted that the American Eagle Ground Operations Manual, updated in July of 2022, warns employees not to approach the area in front of a running jet engine. Known as the "ingestion zone," that area extends about 15 feet.
Alex Gladden is the public safety reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser. She can be reached at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: NTSB releases preliminary report on Alabama ramp worker's jet death