San Antonio Airport worker dies after being ingested into plane engine

Austin Deppe /

A ground worker has died after being ingested into an aircraft engine at San Antonio International Airport (SAT/KSAT) in Texas, United States.  

The victim, whose identity has not been publicly disclosed, was an employee of Unifi Aviation, a company contracted by Delta Air Lines for ground crew operations. 

A source related to the case told The Guardian that the worker may have “intentionally stepped in front of the live engine,” but this information remains unverified, and an investigation is currently ongoing. 

The incident occurred on June 23, 2023, when Delta Flight 1111, an Airbus A319, from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) was taxiing to the gate with one engine on at the time. 

The Airbus A319 has two engine options: the CFM International LEAP-1A, which produces 120.4 kilonewtons, or Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM, which produces 121 kilonewtons​. Both are turbofan engines and operate by sucking in a large amount of air to provide the thrust necessary for the plane to move. This process creates significant suction, so if objects or, in rare cases, individuals get too close to an operating engine they could be pulled in with tremendous force. 

Delta Air Lines told local broadcaster KENS 5 that the company was “deeply saddened” by the event and is “cooperating with authorities as they begin their investigation”. 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and local San Antonio authorities are investigating the incident. Initial statements from Unifi Aviation suggest that the incident was unrelated to their operational processes or safety procedures and policies. 

A similar accident occurred on December 31, 2022, when a ramp agent working for Piedmont Airlines was ingested into an Embraer E175 engine at Montgomery Regional Airport (MGM), Alabaman. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined the regional airline $15,625, the maximum permitted by law for a serious safety breach. 

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