Airline Fined $15,000 after Woman got Sucked into the Plane’s Engine and was Killed

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Piedmont Airlines, a regional subsidiary of American Airlines, has been fined $15,625 (AUD $22,739) by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA) following the tragic death of Courtney Edwards, an airport worker who was sucked into the plane’s engine.

The incident occurred on December 31 in southwest Montgomery, Alabama. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation confirmed that Edwards, a 34-year-old mother of three, was “ingested into the engine” while on the ramp at Montgomery Regional Airport, where American Airlines Flight 3408, an Embraer E175 aircraft, was parked. Employees had been instructed not to approach the plane when the engine was being shut off.

As the pilot was landing the aircraft in Montgomery, he received an alert that the front cargo was being opened just as he began shutting down the right engine. Surveillance footage reveals Edwards walking toward the rear of the plane while holding an orange safety cone, according to the NTSB report. Tragically, she steps out of frame moments before the incident occurs.

The co-pilot reported that the airplane “shook violently followed by the immediate automatic shutdown,” as noted by the New York Post. The OSHA investigation found that the airline failed to provide a safe working environment free from recognized hazards that could cause death or serious physical harm to employees exposed to ingestion and jet blast hazards, according to the Communication Workers of America (CWA).

“While the penalty is relatively small, it is expected that Piedmont will contest the decision. CWA will continue to advocate for Courtney Edwards, her family, and the safety of all airline workers, who should never have to fear for their lives while on the job,” stated a memo to union members cited by the Dallas Morning News.

Following Edwards’ tragic death, a GoFundMe campaign was launched by Donielle Prophete, President of the CWA Local 3645, to support Edwards’ three children.

Prophete emphasized that all proceeds would go towards funeral expenses, day-to-day living costs, and any other expenses required to care for the children. The campaign has raised over $120,462 (AUD $175,268) thus far, reflecting the community’s support for Edwards’ family during this difficult time.

RIP.

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