NTSB Identification: NYC97LA064.
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Scheduled 14 CFR (D.B.A. DELTA AIR LINES )
Accident occurred Thursday, March 27, 1997 in JAMAICA, NY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/10/1998
Aircraft: Lockheed L-1011, registration: N762DA
Injuries: 1 Fatal,202 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The L-1011 was pushed back from the gate by a groundcrew of 3 employees. The tug operator was seated facing the airplane, while wing walkers were placed at the left and right wing tips. The tug operator then looked over his right shoulder to pull the airplane forward, to align it with the center line of the taxiway. During this movement, he maintained visual contact with the left wing walker. When the forward motion was initiated, the left and right wing walkers started to converge towards the tow bar, anticipating the disconnect of the airplane when it stopped. The left wing walker observed the right wing walker, the designated Dispatch Agent (DA) for the flight, approach the tow bar. The left wing walker glanced at the left wing tip, and when his vision returned to the tow bar, the right wing walker was under the nose wheel of the airplane with the tug operator's headset cord. The Delta Ground Operations Manual 10-043 (GOM), did not specify where members of the pushback crew should be positioned during the pushback to ensure safety. The GOM also did not discuss any potential hazards associated with aircraft movement and engine operation. The DA, usually one of the two wing walkers, was expected to remain in view of the tug driver and in view of the flight crew during the pushback maneuver. Also, the DA was required to monitor the pushback, and 'be prepared to act on any signals from the wing walkers.' The company published new procedures as a result of the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The failure of the right wing walker, also the push back supervisor, to identify and avoid a hazardous condition, which resulted in his activity near the airplane's nose wheel during tow operations, and where he was subsequently caught under the nose wheel. A factor in the accident was the failure of the Delta Ground Operations Manual to provide adequate safety information.

Full narrative available

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