NTSB Identification: DEN05LA048.
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Scheduled 14 CFR Continental Airlines Inc.
Accident occurred Saturday, January 08, 2005 in Gunnison, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/13/2005
Aircraft: Boeing 737-724, registration: N16732
Injuries: 1 Minor,73 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.

According to the captain, after landing on runway 06, they rolled out and turned off on A8 taxiway. While taxiing westbound to the gate, airport operations requested him to hold on the taxiway between A4 and A5, to give a Delta Air Lines pushback crew some room to move another airplane. After stopping, he set the brakes, and made a passenger announcement. Approximately 3 minutes later, the airplane was struck from the left rear by a snowplow. The force of the impact pushed the left main landing gear forward approximately 10 feet, turning the airplane to the right as it rotated about its right main landing gear. The captain stated that he shut down the engines, requested an assessment from the flight attendants, and told the first officer to call for fire equipment. He then surveyed the damage from the cockpit window and aft galley service door window. By that time, the snowplow had backed off to the east approximately 50 yards. The captain stated that the airport visibility was reported at 2 miles. However, he could see the Western State "W" on a hill, approximately 2.5 miles south of the airport. After an assessment of the damage and confirmation from the fire crew that it was safe, the airplane was towed to the ramp and the passengers were deplaned with the airstairs. The snow plow operator stated visibility was poor. He said he was unsure of where the airplane was. As he was plowing the taxiway "out of nowhere was the 737." The driver applied brakes, but it was too late. Following the accident, the airport made several changes to its operating procedures with respect to snowplow operations and radio communications with airport vehicles.

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

the snowplow driver's failure to see the airplane during plowing operations. Factors contributing to the accident were the snowplow driver's excessive speed and the snow.

Full narrative available

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