The United States (US) National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a preliminary report about an incident where an Envoy Air employee was “ingested” into an Embraer E175 engine.
The incident 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), Alabama, US. The E175, registered as N264NN, arrived from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) on flight AA3408 with 59 passengers and four crew members. None of the people onboard the aircraft were injured.
Piedmont Airlines is a subsidiary of the American Airlines Group, the parent company of American Airlines.
Ingested by the engine
According to the NTSB, the E175 had an inoperative Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), which is why it required ground power upon arrival at the gate following the mandatory two-minute engine cool-down period. Three ramp agents were present upon the aircraft’s arrival at the gate and all three were clear of the safety area.
As the captain was shutting down the number two (right-hand) engine, the jet’s engine indicated and crew alerting system (EICAS) indicated that the forward cargo door had been opened, even though the number one engine was still operative. The First Officer opened his cockpit window to inform the ramp agent, who opened the cargo door, that the left-hand power plant was still running. Following this, the captain announced to passengers that they needed to remain seated until the seat belt sign was turned off. He then told his co-pilot that they would turn off the number one engine once ground power was connected.
In the report, the NTSB continued to detail that immediately after the captain relayed his intentions, a warning light illuminated and the aircraft shook violently, as the number one engine shut down automatically.
Video material showed that the ramp agent ingested into the aircraft’s engine was seen “walking along the leading edge of the left wing and directly in front of the number one engine” and she was sucked in by the GE CF34 power plant. The upper rotating beacon light, which indicates that the engine is or is about to be active, was illuminated.
“The ground crew reported that a safety briefing was held about 10 minutes before the airplane arrived at the gate. A second safety “huddle” was held shortly before the airplane arrived at the gate, to reiterate that the engines would remain running until ground power was connected,” the incident report continued. Furthermore, the ground crew “discussed that the airplane should not be approached, and the diamond of safety cones should not be set until the engines were off, spooled down, and the airplane’s rotating beacon light had been extinguished by the flight crew”.
Still, ramp agents told the investigators that a ramp agent was seen setting up the rear safety cone and that the person almost fell over from the engine’s exhaust. One employee described that they had waved and yelled towards the ramp agent who almost fell over and once he turned to lower the cord of the ground power, “he heard a “bang” and the engine shut down”.
The Embraer E175 left MGM on January 8, 2023, and has been in active service since, according to flightradar24.com data.