Texas airport worker sucked into taxiing Delta plane engine; ‘ingested’ by the machine

In a completely improbable accident — freakier than a freak accident — an airport worker in the city of San Antonio, Texas, got sucked into the engine of a taxiing Delta plane, one that had just arrived from Los Angeles, and got ‘ingested’ by the machine.

Delta airline said in a statement that it was “heartbroken” over the incident and the loss of a member of its “aviation family”. Representative photo courtesy: Instagram/delta

The accident occurred at 10.25 pm (local time) on Friday as the Delta aircraft was taxiing to an arrival gate with one engine running. News of the accident was released today.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said that it was “in contact” with the airline, which was “in the information gathering process”. The airline said in a statement that it was “heartbroken” over the incident and the loss of a member of its “aviation family”.

Unifi Aviation, a company that is contracted by several airlines to assist with ground handling operations, was the employer of the killed worker, who was not named. “Our hearts go out to the family of the deceased, and we remain focused on supporting our employees on the ground and ensuring they are being taken care of during this time,” said a Unifi statement.

San Antonio firefighters and police officers were the first to respond to the worker’s death. The NTSB has since joined the investigation and could release a preliminary report with more details in the coming days.

A similar incident occurred late last year in Alabama when an airport worker was pulled into a plane engine.

On Wednesday, regional airline Piedmont was fined USD15,625 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for the death of a ground crew worker in the Alabama incident.

“Proper training and enforcement of safety procedures could have prevented this tragedy,” said OSHA Area Director Jose A Gonzalez in Mobile, Alabama. “This incident is a tragic reminder that safety measures must be in place even for a routine assignment.”