Alabama airline worker was sucked into engine so violently plane shook

Alabama airline worker – who died after being sucked into an engine so violently it shook the entire plane – was a mother-of-three and had been ‘repeatedly warned to stay back’, says NTSB

  • The mom-of-three died on New Year’s Eve after she was sucked into an engine 
  • Courtney Edwards was a ground agent working for Piedmont Airlines in Alabama
  • A report says that Edwards, 34, had been warned to keep a safe distance

The airline worker who died after being so violently sucked into the engine of a recently landed plane it shook the entire aircraft was a mother-of-three and had been repeatedly warned to stay back. 

The tragedy occurred on New Year’s Eve at Montgomery Regional Airport in Alabama. The victim was later identified as 34-year-old Courtney Edwards, who worked as a ground agent for Piedmont Airlines. 

The initial report from the National Transport Safety Board stated that Edwards was killed after getting too close to the engine of an American Eagle-operated Embraer E175 jet. 

The report notes that Edwards failed to heed multiple warnings to stay back from the engines while the plane was shutting down.  

The 59 passengers on board the flight from Dallas and four crew members were not injured.  

A GoFundMe page that has been set for members of Courtney Edwards’ family has raised nearly $100,000

 The report says the surveillance video shows a violation of protocol in which Edwards did not keep a safe distance until the airplane’s rotating beacon light shuts off

Edwards is survived by her three children and her mother, according to a GoFundMe page that has been set up to help her family financially. At the time or writing, the campaign has raised close to $100,000. 

According to the report, upon landing, the captain began the process of shutting down the engines before receiving a warning that the plane’s front cargo door was open.

The co-pilot alerted workers on the ground to let them know the engines were still on. 

One section of the report reads: ‘Immediately thereafter, he saw a warning light illuminate and the airplane shook violently followed by the immediate automatic shutdown of the number 1 engine.

‘Unsure of what had occurred, he extinguished the emergency lights and shut off both batteries before leaving the flight deck to investigate’.

The report says there is video that shows Edwards walking in front of the first engine on the left of the plane. It reads: ‘She was subsequently pulled off her feet and into the operating engine.’ 

One of Edwards’ colleagues told investigators he saw 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’.

An obituary for Edwards mentions that she is survived by her three children 

One section of the GoFundMe page reads: ‘Please know that this tragedy has and will affect her mother, family, friends and kids for years to come’

As a result of the accident, Montgomery Regional Airport was shut down  

The report cites the American Eagle Ground Operations Manual which tells workers not approach the front of a running jet engine and to keep a safe distance of at least 15 feet, known as the ‘ingestion zone’ 

Another said he attempted to warn her that the engine was still on, and as he was in the process of doing this he heard a ‘bang’. 

The ground crew said they had two meetings about safety prior to the plane landing and all members knew the engines would remain on until ground power was connected as the plane does not have auxiliary power. 

One member of the crew said it was ‘discussed that the airplane should not be approached’.

The report says the surveillance video shows a violation of protocol in which Edwards did not keep at a safe distance until the airplane’s rotating beacon light shut off. 

It reads: ‘Throughout the course of the accident, the airplane’s upper rotating beacon light appeared to be illuminated’.

The report cites the American Eagle Ground Operations Manual which tells workers not approach the front of a running jet engine and to keep a safe distance of at least 15 feet, known as the ‘ingestion zone.’ 

The manual says: ‘Jet engines spin with powerful speed and are extremely dangerous until spooled down. The area in front of the engine is called the ingestion zone. The ingestion zone for all aircraft types is 15 feet. You must never enter the ingestion zone until the engine has spooled down.’ 

It’s not clear when the full and final report will be published. 

Speaking about Edwards’ death, a co-worker Divonta Palmer, told WSFA: ‘I can’t wrap my mind around how did this happen. She would tell me that she was always dedicated and motivated to do the best job and put the best foot forward.’ 

Palmer also said the incident should to act as a wake-up call for ground crews regarding safety. 

The GoFundMe page was set up for Edwards by local union rep, Donielle Prophete. On the fundraising page, Prophete wrote: ‘Please know that this tragedy has and will affect her mother, family, friends and kids for years to come.’ 

Edwards was from the town of Niceville, Florida, close to the border with Alabama. She moved to Alabama in 2013. 

According to Popular Mechanics, there have been 33 reports of people being ingested by Boeing engines over the last forty years. The website referred to death by ingestion as ‘uncommon’ but not ‘unprecedented.’

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