On January 28, 2003, about 0015 eastern standard time, a Mitsubishi MU-2B-60, N941MA, operated by Epps Air Service Inc, sustained minor damage when a ground courier walked into the propeller, while the airplane was standing with operating engines, at Burke Lakefront Airport (BKL), Cleveland, Ohio. The certificated airline transport pilot was not injured. The ground courier was fatally injured. An instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed, for the flight that was destined for Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW), Chicago, Illinois. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that was conducted under 14 CFR Part 135.

According to the pilot, the airplane was parked pointed northwest, with the left side parallel to an open hanger door. A second MU-2 was parked about 20 feet ahead, 50 feet further outboard, and pointed southwest toward the hanger.

Witnesses reported that the courier, an employee of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, drove his vehicle onto the ramp, and assisted the accident pilot in loading the airplane with cancelled checks. The courier then drove his vehicle to the second airplane and assisted that pilot with his load of cancelled checks.

While the courier was loading the second airplane, the pilot of the accident airplane, closed the main cabin door, secured his cargo, and prepared to start both engines. Two line persons were in attendance, one on the left side of the nose of the airplane, and a second line person manning the ground power unit (GPU). The GPU was connected to the left rear side of the airplane, and both engines were started. The pilot signaled to the line person in front of him to have the GPU disconnected. The GPU was disconnected, and the GPU access door was secured. The line person in front of the airplane then signaled the pilot that the GPU was clear, and the pilot was clear to taxi.

The pilot reported that after he received a clear to taxi signal from the line person, he focused his attention inside the cockpit to move the propellers off the start locks. The pilot reported that when he looked up again, he saw the courier was walking toward the outboard side of the left engine, with two bags. When he realized that the courier was not going to stop, he immediately placed both engines in emergency shutdown with the condition levers. The courier made contact with the propeller and fell to the ground. After the accident, the pilot notified the control tower and requested assistance. The pilot added that he believed both engines were shutdown prior to propeller contact.

The line person from the front of the airplane reported that after he gave the pilot a clear to taxi, he turned and walked toward the left wing tip, and on to the hanger. As he reached the tip tank of the airplane, he looked back over his left shoulder and saw the courier walking toward the propeller. The courier had already passed the position of the pilot and was about 2 feet in front of the propeller when first observed. After the accident, the line person went into the hanger and called for emergency personnel.

The pilot of the second airplane reported that as the courier finished loading his airplane, he found two bags that needed to go on the accident airplane. He observed the courier walk toward the accident airplane, which had both engines operating. He then turned his attention to securing his own load, and did not see the accident.

The line person with the GPU reported that he was not looking in the direction of the propeller, and did not see the accident.

The pilot and several witnesses reported that the navigation lights and the red rotating anti-collision lights were illuminated at the time of the accident. The wing tip taxi light and nose mounted landing lights were not illuminated.

Interviews were conducted with 4 couriers who worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. They had all received two to three weeks of on-the-job training which included bank procedures, and where to park the vehicle on the ramp. None of the employees were aware of any direction, verbal or written that said they should not approach an airplane with the engines operating. Some of the employees reported that they had loaded airplanes, both jets and propeller driven airplanes with the engines operating. None had received any training on the hazards of working around airplanes with the engines operating.

The toxicological testing report from the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was negative for drugs and alcohol for the bank courier.

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