On April 3, 2011, at 0843 central daylight time, an Embraer EMB-135KL, N377SK, flight CHQ 5019, sustained minor damage when the jet bridge was blown into the side of the forward fuselage as the airplane was being prepared for departure from the Dubuque Regional Airport (DBQ), Dubuque, Iowa. The captain, first officer, flight attendant, and 44 passengers were not injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Chautauqua Airlines, Inc., as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 scheduled passenger flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the incident. An instrument flight rules flight plan was filed with O'Hare International Airport (ORD), Chicago, Illinois, as the destination. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The captain reported that the main cabin door was closed and the ground crew was pulling back the jet bridge as usual. When the jet bridge was about 20 - 30 feet away, it started to move back and forth in the wind. When he saw that the wind caught the jet bridge and it was apparent that it would strike the airplane, he and the first officer left the cockpit and entered the main cabin. After it hit the airplane, the captain determined that an emergency evacuation was not required. He reported that the engines were not running at the time of the incident, the auxiliary power unit was on, and the airplane's nose wheel was still chocked. The impact created about a 20-inch gash in the fuselage under the captain's window.
The gate agent who was operating the jet bridge reported that she pulled the jet bridge about 5 feet away from the airplane before she started to swing it away to the left of the airplane. When the jet bridge was about 20 feet from the airplane, she turned the wheels to the right and pulled back on the joy stick to provide more room for the airplane to depart. She observed that the jet bridge was being blown by the wind toward the airplane. She attempted to stop it, and after "quit a struggle," she got it to stop. The jet bridge was too close to the airplane to allow the airplane to depart, and she could not pull the jet bridge backwards to get it away from the airplane.
Another gate agent arrived to assist. She attempted to turn the jet bridge to the left so she could pull it back from the airplane. The wind caught the jet bridge and started to blow it toward the airplane. She hit the Emergency Stop button, but it had no effect. She tried to turn the key/power off, but the jet bridge kept moving. She hit the Emergency Stop button and tried to use the joystick again, but neither worked. She stated, "By this time the jet bridge had gained momentum with the wind pushing it and it was moving very fast" as it struck the airplane.
The airport manager reported that the jet bridge brake system was deactivated during the winter months for the last two years since the brakes routinely would ice up and keep the jet bridge from operating. He reported that it had not provided any problems until the day of the incident when the strong winds and direction of the winds combined to make it an unsafe situation.
According to the airport manager, the Emergency Stop was inoperable when the brakes were deactivated. When the Emergency Stop button was pushed, the brakes would not engage. Pushing the Emergency Stop button also cut the power to the control panel so moving the joystick would have no effect.
The airport manager reported that the jet bridge brake system was scheduled to be activated the day prior to the incident, but the technician working on the system was unable to get it activated. An electrician was scheduled to make the necessary repairs to activate the system on Monday, which was the day after the incident occurred. The airport manager reported that the brakes have now been activated, and the jet bridge will no longer have the brakes deactivated during the winter months.
The training records for gate agents who operate the jet bridge were examined. The gate agents who operated the jet bridge during the incident had attended recurrent training in November or December of 2008. They had not received any training on the jet bridge since, although they routinely operated that jet bridge during their normal duties. They were trained on the jet bridge when the brake system operated normally. They did not receive training on the jet bridge when the brake system was deactivated.
At 0753, the surface weather observation at DBQ was: wind 130 degrees at 18 knots with gusts to 28 knots, visibility 10 miles, few clouds 6,000 feet, overcast 8,000 feet, temperature 9 degrees Celsius (C), dew point - 1 degree C, altimeter 30.10 inches of mercury.