A ground worker who was fatally injured on the ramp at an Alabama regional airport was “ingested into the engine” of an American Airlines jetliner parked at the gate, officials said.
The worker was sucked into the engine of the Embraer 170 around 3 p.m. Saturday at Montgomery Regional Airport, where its parking brake was on, the National Transportation Safety Board told Insider.
The flight from Dallas was operated by Envoy Air, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines Group.
The airport said the victim worked for Piedmont Airlines, another US regional subsidiary, but did not provide further details.
“We are saddened to learn of the tragic loss of a member of the AA/Piedmont Airlines team,” airport executive director Wade Davis said in a statement.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time,” he added.
In a statement, American Airlines said it was devastated by the incident.
“We are working to ensure everyone involved has the support they need during this difficult time,” the company said, declining further comment during the ongoing investigation.
The NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating.
When a jet engine is running, air drawn into the intake can create an area of low air pressure that can pull nearby people into the spinning blades.
When parked, cones are placed near the engines to mark the boundaries of danger zones, the exact sizes of which are provided in the aircraft’s operating manual, according to High Sky Flying.
For example, the danger zone for an Airbus A320 is 14 feet ahead and to the sides of the engine inlet, according to the site.
It is rare for ground personnel to get sucked into the engines as they are trained in the hazards and how to steer clear of them.
The dead ground worker has not been identified and details of the accident have not been released.
The NTSB did not immediately respond to a request for comment.