Federal safety regulators have ordered Piedmont Airlines, a regional subsidiary of American Airlines, to pay a $15,625 fine following the December 31 death of a crew member after she was sucked into a plane engine, per the New York Post.
As previously reported by Face2Face Africa, the National Transportation Safety Board said the fatal incident occurred while mother-of-three, Courtney Edwards, was working at the Montgomery Regional Airport in Alabama.
Piedmont Airlines was hit with the fine after the Occupational Health and Safety Administration found it liable for a safety breach that caused Edwards’ death. The deceased 34-year-old woman was “on the ramp at Montgomery Regional Airport where American Airlines Flight 3408, an Embraer E175, was parked” when she was “ingested into the engine,” the National Transportation Safety Board determined in an investigation.
The NTSB report also stated that prior to the plane’s arrival, two safety meetings took place to remind the crew not to go near the plane, as its engines will not be shut down after it landed, WHSV reported.
The report stated that the flight crew allowed the aircraft’s engines to run for a required two-minute “engine cool down period” when the plane ultimately landed. However, as the captain initiated the process of shutting down the plane’s right engine, a cockpit alert showed the front cargo door was being opened. The fatal incident occurred not too long after.
In the surveillance footage of the incident, Edwards, 34, was seen holding an orange safety cone and making her way to the back of the plane, the report stated, per PEOPLE. She, however, went out of sight at a point and later died after she was sucked into the plane engine.
In a statement, Edwards’ union, the Communication Workers of America, said that the OSHA determined the airline was responsible due to “lack of effective training, clear and unambiguous communication on the ramp, and clear instructions from supervisors as to when it is safe to approach an aircraft,” the New York Post reported.
A GoFundMe that was set up for Edwards’ children following her death has so far raised over $120,000, surpassing the initial $25,000 goal. “Courtney was a Ground Handling agent for Piedmont Airlines – a subsidiary of American Airlines, a loving mother of 3 kids and a wonderful daughter to her beloved mother,” the GoFundMe that was set up for Edwards stated. “Please know that this tragedy has and will affect her mother, family, friends, and kids for years to come.”