NTSB Identification: NYC02LA056.
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Scheduled 14 CFR Air Trans Airways
Accident occurred Sunday, January 20, 2002 in Dulles, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/17/2003
Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32, registration: N837AT
Injuries: 66 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 DC-9-32 was parked at the gate, with an inoperative APU, and the ramp was covered with snow and ice. The captain reported that a single engine cross bleed start would require an N1 of about 80% on the operative engine. He therefore elected to start both engines at the gate, and then proceed with the pushback. The operators manual stated that if a headset was used, it would be worn by the tug driver. The tug driver did not wear the headset because the headset chord had been broken and repaired multiple times, and was too short to reach the tug driver. A walker near the nose of the airplane was wearing the headset. During pushback, as the tug driver tried to push the nose of the airplane to the west, the airplane encountered icy conditions, moved forward, and struck the tug. At the time of loss of traction, the tug was nearly 90 degrees to the right side of the nose of the airplane. The forward movement of the airplane was observed by the tug driver, who stopped the tug, but with no headset, he could not notify the cockpit crew. The walker near the nose of the airplane, wearing the headset, reported that he was looking away, and did not observe the airplane moving forward in time to make a call to the cockpit. The pushback was accomplished by a contract crew that had been trained in accordance with the airlines GMM, which did not contain specific direction for pushbacks on icy surfaces.

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

The lack of direction from the operator on how to perform pushbacks on an icy ramp, which led to the tug driver positioning the tug at an angle to the nose of the airplane that allowed the airplane to move forward and strike the tug. Factors were the inadequate visual lookout by the walker wearing the headset, and the icy ramp.

Full narrative available

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