NTSB Identification: FTW98FA273.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, June 17, 1998 in DENVER, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/19/1999
Aircraft: Boeing 737-322, registration: N364UA
Injuries: 2 Minor,70 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The catering truck driver parked directly behind the airplane, awaiting the arrival of another flight at an adjacent gate. He set the parking brake, turned off the engine, but left the headlights on. He said he was not concerned about parking behind the airplane because the jetway was still in position, the airplane's rotating beacon was not flashing, and another catering truck was servicing the coach section. The other truck then moved around to the front of the airplane to service the first class section. After baggage had been loaded in the forward cargo bin, the belt loader was backed away from the airplane. Normally, the belt loader would then be positioned on the vehicle service road to warn traffic that an airplane was being pushed back. This was not possible because the belt loader was blocked by the catering truck that had backed away from the airplane. The tug operator had made a previous walk-around inspection of the airplane and observed no hazards. He said that prior to pushback, he looked under the airplane one more time and saw no obstacles. He said he did not see the parked catering truck. As the catering truck was backing away from the airplane, pushback began and the airplane collided with the parked catering truck.

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

Inadequate visual lookout by ground personnel (tug operator). Factors include failure of the airline to provide proper assistance (wing walkers) to the tug operator, and inadequate pushback procedures by the airline; inattention of the catering truck driver, and failure of the flight crew to illuminate the rotating beacon prior to or during pushback.

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