CEN12LA125
CEN12LA125

On December 3, 2011, about 2050 central daylight time, a passenger of a parked Aviat Aircraft Inc., Husky A-1C, N62WY, came into its rotating propeller after exiting the airplane on the ramp of the Aero Country Airport (T31), McKinney, Texas. The airplane was registered to Shell Aviation, LLC, McKinney, Texas, and was being flown by a private pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Dark night visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed at the time of the accident. The passenger was seriously injured and the pilot, who was the only other person remaining on board, was not injured. The flight had originated from T31 and had just returned from flying in the local area to view holiday lights.

A witness who was with the group of people who were at the airport to fly in the airplane that night reported that he and the pilot pushed the airplane out of the hanger approximately 2030 in preparation for the flight. He stated that the weather was VFR with ceilings around 3500 ft and good visibility. Several minutes after the pilot had started the airplane, he walked the first passenger to the aircraft, made specific mention to her of the propeller and to be careful, then helped her enter the aircraft and fasten her seat belts. Once she was situated in the rear seat he walked away from the aircraft and back into the hanger. The airplane then took off to view the holiday lights. After 10-15 minutes passed, he saw the airplane taxi back onto the ramp and park facing toward the north. After a brief discussion with another person in the hangar, he saw the shadow of the passenger exiting the airplane. He then began walking toward the aircraft and noticed that the passenger was walking toward the front of the aircraft. He yelled for her to "STOP", and a second later she hit the propeller from the rear and fell to the ground. He noticed that the pilot immediately shut the engine down and then called emergency services.

According to the pilot (as he recalled the event in a written statement), after landing from the planned 20-minute flight, he stopped the airplane on the ramp with the engine running in anticipation of taking another passenger to view the holiday lights. He opened the door on the right side of the airplane expecting a friend to come out and assist his passenger in deplaning. After he opened the door, the passenger started to get out of the airplane. Upon noticing that she was exiting in front of the strut, the pilot leaned out of his seat and placed his right hand and arm in front of her to divert her away from the front of the airplane and the propeller. He continued to keep his arm extended and told the passenger that she should walk behind the airplane. Once he saw that the passenger was at least beyond where the strut was attached to the wing, and walking away, he dropped his right arm and returned to his normal seat position. The pilot then looked to the left side of the airplane and opened his window to ask who was next to go for a ride. The pilot then heard someone yell, "STOP," and he immediately shut down the engine and saw the passenger lying in front of the airplane.

The NTSB did not travel to the scene of the accident, however, after notification of the event, an FAA inspector responded to the accident scene. He reported that when he arrived, the airplane was hangared, the scene cleaned up, and the injured passenger had been taken to the hospital. Local law enforcement and emergency medical personnel had processed the scene prior to the arrival of the FAA inspector. Both the FAA inspector's statement of his observations and the law enforcement report of the event are included in the supporting docket for this report.

FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 91-42D "Hazards of Rotating Propeller and Helicopter Rotor Blade,” outlines safety considerations for pilots and passengers of aircraft with turning propellers or rotors. The AC is advisory in nature and not mandatory guidance. In part, the circular states that a propeller under power, even at slow idling speed, has sufficient force to inflict fatal injuries. On page 4 of the circular, it cautions that the engine “should be shut down before boarding or deplaning passengers”...”when it is necessary to discharge a passenger from an aircraft on which an engine is running, never stop the aircraft with the propeller in the path of the passenger’s route from the aircraft.” The Advisory Circular is included in the supporting docket for this report.

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