On November 13, 2004, at 2200 central standard time, a Saab-Scania AB 340B, N305CE, operated by Chicago Express Airlines Inc. as flight 3491, was involved in an accident when a ramp service employee was struck by the right (No. 2) engine propeller while servicing the aircraft after landing at the General Mitchell International Airport (MKE), Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The ramp employee sustained serious injuries. The 25 passengers and 3 crew members on the flight were not injured. The aircraft was not damaged. The flight was operating under 14 CFR Part 121 on an instrument flight rules flight plan. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight departed Chicago Midway Airport (MDW), Chicago, Illinois, at 2132. The flight landed at 2156 and arrived at the gate at 2158. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The captain stated that the flight arrived at the gate with the left (No. 1) engine already shut down. He reported that the aircraft was parked and the parking brake set. He noted that when he received the signal that the wheel chocks were in place he feathered the right (No. 2) engine. The cabin door was then opened. He stated he felt "three or four quick thumps" and received a signal from ramp personnel to shut down the right (No. 2) engine. After shut down, the crew exited the aircraft and saw a ramp service agent lying beneath the airplane. He noted that medical assistance was requested through the MKE control tower and emergency medical services were on-scene shortly thereafter.
The ramp service employee who marshaled the flight into parking reported that the left (No. 1) engine had been shut down when it arrived at the gate area. He noted that he chocked the left main landing gear and started to place a safety cone at the left wing tip when he heard a "loud thump." He reported that when he looked under the aircraft he saw the individual on the ground. He reportedly moved to within view of the cockpit and signaled the captain to shut down the right (No. 2) engine.
An employee positioned on the ramp outside of the left wingtip in front of the cabin entry door, reported witnessing events immediately prior to the accident. She stated that the ramp employee involved walked outside of the left wing with two chocks toward the nose of the aircraft. She reported that he walked to the nose landing gear, slowed down, and then continued walking around to the other side of the aircraft. She noted that she was unable to determine his distance from the right (No. 2) engine propeller. She stated that she heard the "sound of something hit the [propeller]" and she saw the individual "flip and land on the ground."
Ramp services for Chicago Express flights at MKE were provided by America West Airlines which also provided services for Frontier Airlines. Aircraft serviced by America West at MKE include the Boeing 737-300, Airbus A318/319, and Saab 340B. The Saab 340B was the only propeller-driven aircraft serviced by America West at MKE.
Flight 3491 was the last flight into MKE that evening and was scheduled to remain overnight (RON). America West stated that standard procedures for aircraft entering an RON was for the left (No. 1) engine to be shut down to allow for the deplaning of passengers and off-loading of luggage and cargo. The right (No. 2) engine was kept running so that electrical power was available during that process. America West noted that in the case the aircraft was going out as another flight, the right (No. 2) engine was normally shut down and a ground power unit was connected to the aircraft.
The individual involved in the accident was hired by America West on October 10, 2004, and was reportedly in training at the time. Training records provided by America West indicate that ramp safety was discussed during initial training. In a statement prepared after the accident, the mentor assigned to the individual involved reported that he was specifically trained to chock the main landing gear by approaching from the rear. The mentor also stated that he never observed the individual install main landing gear chocks by approaching from the front of the aircraft.
According to America West Airlines, newly hired ramp employees complete one week of formal training in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Topics covered during this training include general America West procedures and aircraft. Additional training was conducted at the employee's assigned work location and included procedures specific to that station. A mentoring program reportedly followed formal training and was to be continued until the individual was proficient in all required tasks. According to the MKE station manager, a mentor was to supervise the individual in training during ramp operations.
In order to support Chicago Express operations at MKE, America West was to provide employees with training to cover differences in airline procedures and aircraft. This was accomplished under a "train-the-trainer" concept, in which Chicago Express provided training to one individual at America West. This individual in turn trained America West employees. Documentation provided by Chicago Express indicated that training in Chicago Express procedures was required in the areas of aircraft training and emergency response. The America West designated trainer completed Chicago Express procedures training on May 19, 2003, and again on September 21, 2004. Training records for the employee involved in the accident provided by America West did not denote a specific check off for Chicago Express operations.