Awful: Worker Ingested By Delta Jet Engine At San Antonio Airport

Awful: Worker Ingested By Delta Jet Engine At San Antonio Airport

49

My gosh, this is simply heartbreaking. What makes it worse is that this isn’t the first time in recent memory that something like this has happened.

San Antonio Airport worker dies while working Delta flight

On Friday, June 23, 2023, a ground crew worker at San Antonio Airport was ingested by the engine of a Delta Air Lines Airbus A319. This incident involves flight DL1111, operating from Los Angeles (LAX) to San Antonio (SAT), which touched down at 10:19PM. The flight was operated by a 19-year-old Airbus A319 with the registration code N370NB.

The employee didn’t work directly for Delta, but rather worked for Unifi Aviation, a ground handling company that Delta contracts to. Based on the preliminary report, the aircraft was taxiing to the gate with one engine on when the person was ingested by the engine.

Firefighters and police officers were called to the scene at around 10:25PM, and the incident is now being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). No information has been made available about the person who died.

In a statement, Delta has said that it’s “heartbroken and grieving the loss of an aviation family member’s life.” Meanwhile Unifi Aviation, the employer of the person who died, issued the following statement:

“Unifi Aviation is deeply saddened by the loss of our employee at San Antonio International Airport during a tragic incident in the late hours of Friday, June 23, 2023. Our hearts go out to the family of the deceased, and we remain focused on supporting our employees on the ground and ensuring they are being taken care of during this time.”

“From our initial investigation, this incident was unrelated to Unifi’s operational processes, safety procedures and policies. Out of respect for the deceased, we will not be sharing any additional information. While police and other officials continue to investigate this incident, we defer to them on providing further details.”

There are a couple of things worth emphasizing here:

  • Under 24 hours after the accident, the company is saying that the accident was unrelated to the company’s “operational processes, safety procedures and policies” — I suppose that’s fair enough, because obviously something didn’t happen as it was supposed to, or else there wouldn’t have been a fatality
  • “Out of respect for the deceased,” the company won’t be sharing any additional information; at this point the investigation is in the hands of the NTSB, so I guess it’s not on the company to comment any further

My thoughts are with the person who died, and their family. What a tragic situation.

What could cause something like this?

Aviation is so incredibly safe thanks to all the people who work hard every day to ensure that happens. It’s sad that working on the ground seems to be more dangerous than being on a plane.

We don’t have any details yet about how exactly this happened, other than the ground handling company stating that this was unrelated to the company’s “operational processes, safety procedures and policies.”

Jet engines produce a lot of thrust. Engine power is intentionally kept quite low on the ground (aside from when taking off on the runway), given the number of people and things on the ramp. Airlines sometimes taxi with one engine on to reduce fuel burn, meaning that engine requires a bit more thrust, but still, the thrust amount shouldn’t be dangerous in any way, as long as procedures are being followed.

What we don’t yet know is what wasn’t happening as it should. As the plane taxied to the gate, was the ground worker closer to the engine than they should have been? Did the ground worker approach the engine area too soon? Did the Delta pilots use more thrust than they should have? The NTSB will be investigating all of this, so we should have a clearer picture of what happened in the future.

Sadly this isn’t the first time that we’ve seen something like this, and it probably won’t be the last. In late December 2022, a ramper was ingested by the engine of an American Eagle Embraer E175 at Montgomery Airport in Alabama.

In that case, an NTSB investigation revealed that the plane had an inoperative auxiliary power unit (APU), so the pilots left both engines running for the required two minute engine cool down period. A pilot opened a cockpit window to remind the ground crew that an engine was still running, but at that point it was too late, as a ground worker had been ingested by the engine.

A similar accident happened in late 2022 at Montgomery Airport

Bottom line

On Friday night, an employee for an airport ground handling company at San Antonio Airport was ingested by the engine of a Delta Airbus A319 that was arriving from Los Angeles. We don’t know many details yet, other than that the Delta A319 was taxiing to the gate with one engine on when this happened. I”m sure an NTSB report will reveal all the details of what happened.

My thoughts are with the the person who lost their life and their family. Ugh…

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  1. MildJuan Member

    And there we have it: suicide.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      ... to add to your comment, the finding of likely suicide comes from the medical examiner.

    2. MildJuan Member

      I agree that it’s silly that medical examiners make these findings, quite especially in this case. That being said, the NTSB closed its investigation, which is very telling.

    3. Matt Guest

      I feel really badly for those who feel suicide is the only option they have. And yet it's such a selfish decision, what of the large number of people who saw or dealt with this act who now have to deal with it for the rest of their lives?

      If you're struggling PLEASE get mental health help

  2. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

    Let's just be honest. It's a little of everything.

    But I think especially:

    Delta saving money and outsourcing ground contracting at many airports, including those served only by mainline flights, to a low-cost contractor. As soon as you outsource, you lose a lot of control. You're seeing this at hotels in London and other expensive labor markets, where housekeeping is often outsourced to staffing agencies.

    Most accidents are human error or fatigue-related. You probably...

    Let's just be honest. It's a little of everything.

    But I think especially:

    Delta saving money and outsourcing ground contracting at many airports, including those served only by mainline flights, to a low-cost contractor. As soon as you outsource, you lose a lot of control. You're seeing this at hotels in London and other expensive labor markets, where housekeeping is often outsourced to staffing agencies.

    Most accidents are human error or fatigue-related. You probably had a worker at the end of his or her shift who may or may not have been experienced.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      first of all, that is all true if this were an accident but there are indications that have been repeated multiple times by credible people that this wasn't just like other accidents. We simply do not know if there is any truth but the language from multiple parties involved in the case is significantly different than with other known accidents.

  3. Lawrence Guest

    First of all I’m here to offer my condolences regardless of why this happened. Two people within 1 year gone from the same issue and it’s absolutely awful. I couldn’t imagine having to hear the news if it were someone I knew personally.

    Secondly, I literally work in this field in this exact capacity. I’ve been told numerous times before I even got to touch a plane that these engines are nothing to heck...

    First of all I’m here to offer my condolences regardless of why this happened. Two people within 1 year gone from the same issue and it’s absolutely awful. I couldn’t imagine having to hear the news if it were someone I knew personally.

    Secondly, I literally work in this field in this exact capacity. I’ve been told numerous times before I even got to touch a plane that these engines are nothing to heck with. Make ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that the engines are off before approaching an airplane or passing behind one. I’ve done this type of work for years and each time, every time: I get a good look at the front of the plane from a very safe distance to ensure I don’t become a casualty. Those engines aren’t going to stop for me, so I stop and wait for them.

    This type of incident is absolutely unthinkably tragic and rare. It shouldn’t be happening at all!

  4. iamhere Guest

    Agree with the comments that discuss immediately blaming the airline or supervisors or others involved in the incident. People these days seem not to take personal responsibility. As there have been other similar incidents recently I think we need to consider a new approach for how this can be prevented. As someone else mentioned it seems that there are a lot more of these incidents than ever before, not just with ground workers but with...

    Agree with the comments that discuss immediately blaming the airline or supervisors or others involved in the incident. People these days seem not to take personal responsibility. As there have been other similar incidents recently I think we need to consider a new approach for how this can be prevented. As someone else mentioned it seems that there are a lot more of these incidents than ever before, not just with ground workers but with other airline and aviation professionals too. Perhaps we need to consider how pilots and flight captains can communicate with grounds crew to alert them of what is going on. It seems that a specific detail can change the entire situation. Perhaps it is about the structure and details of the deals with the airlines and outsourced ground crew, etc.

    1. Rarebus A380 Guest

      Honestly it shouldn’t be necessary since before now, these incidents weren’t really prone to occur. Hundreds of thousands of ramp agents know better than to approach an aircraft when there’s even a possibility that the engines are still running, and if the ramp servicemember were late to a briefing regarding a flight or really new: this should have been discussed at length during training. I don’t believe for one single second that this very important...

      Honestly it shouldn’t be necessary since before now, these incidents weren’t really prone to occur. Hundreds of thousands of ramp agents know better than to approach an aircraft when there’s even a possibility that the engines are still running, and if the ramp servicemember were late to a briefing regarding a flight or really new: this should have been discussed at length during training. I don’t believe for one single second that this very important hazard weren’t discussed during training.

  5. Jordan Diamond

    I'm not going to comment on what caused this, because I was not there. BUT, I was a gate agent when younger, for two of the big 4 carriers of the time. We'd do ramp on Saturdays (loved it). Loved marshaling planes...imagine as a plane nerd getting to do that.

    I can tell you this. Over the past 1-2 years, we have seen more engine ingestions, and pilots either unresponsive or dying in flight....

    I'm not going to comment on what caused this, because I was not there. BUT, I was a gate agent when younger, for two of the big 4 carriers of the time. We'd do ramp on Saturdays (loved it). Loved marshaling planes...imagine as a plane nerd getting to do that.

    I can tell you this. Over the past 1-2 years, we have seen more engine ingestions, and pilots either unresponsive or dying in flight. Flight attendants (unresponsive - yeah, Im sure you guys don't get to hear about these) and FA's dying in flight. Let's not forget TWO, omg TWO planes, one out of HNL, and the other out of DOH, plunging towards the ocean/sea after take off. Runway incursions. Weird aborted landings. I haven't even gotten to the passengers yet. I can assure you, prior to 2019 - these were truly in the proper sense of the word. RARE! Things happened, but not what we are seeing nowadays.

    Honestly, I feel most people today are too blind to connect the dots, but worse, many are not even seeing it. It gets passed off as rare. Oh yes, another "rare" Aurora Borealis visible in the UK, Spain, Virginia, Colorado, CA/Mexico border. Yeah "rare" Cant be rare when it happens every week since February.

    All of these aviation "events" above, and others.... hmmm, think about it.

    I said about a year ago. These aviation events would continue and get worse.

    I love the airline industry, and although I am no longer a part of it (for many years now) I still get to hear stuff from airline employees high up enough to know the daily truths (over gossip) I'ts sad to see the demise of it, in all areas.

    1. iamhere Guest

      So why do you think it is becoming more common and what do you think can be done to make it rare again?

  6. Bob Guest

    Ben:
    Your comments sound to me like someone that has never worked at a physical job, let alone a job with risk for injury.

    I was a production supervisor with 10 people each shift, and all were experienced workers.

    Sometimes safe awareness, safe practices, and attention to detail, were not the worker's top priority.

    Everyone that has worked on an hourly basis with a production goal or target knows one must act with a...

    Ben:
    Your comments sound to me like someone that has never worked at a physical job, let alone a job with risk for injury.

    I was a production supervisor with 10 people each shift, and all were experienced workers.

    Sometimes safe awareness, safe practices, and attention to detail, were not the worker's top priority.

    Everyone that has worked on an hourly basis with a production goal or target knows one must act with a sense of purpose and sometime urgency.

    If there is some sort of different shifts, or different start times weekly, that complicates the employee focus.

    I am sorry for the death that occurred.

    It is not always the company's fault.

  7. Delta Diamond Medallion Guest

    Lots of new inexperienced ramp folks who are probably rushing to get the aircraft parked and serviced for a quick turn and on time departure. Ed Bastian loves to brag Delta is fully staffed, will not cancel fights, get you to your destination on time without a hitch. In order to do this they put big demands on these contract workers who are on the ramp which contributes to unnecessary deaths like this. Shame on...

    Lots of new inexperienced ramp folks who are probably rushing to get the aircraft parked and serviced for a quick turn and on time departure. Ed Bastian loves to brag Delta is fully staffed, will not cancel fights, get you to your destination on time without a hitch. In order to do this they put big demands on these contract workers who are on the ramp which contributes to unnecessary deaths like this. Shame on Delta and the others like American (Envoy) where this has occured.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      take a deep breath in accusing anyone before you know the facts - which you don't.
      Nobody has established that anything was rushed here or that the victim was not properly trained.
      There is the implication that this might not have been an accident. If so, all of the finger pointing don't change the deep flaws in human beings which are not excluded from the workplace.
      Because we don't and won't know,...

      take a deep breath in accusing anyone before you know the facts - which you don't.
      Nobody has established that anything was rushed here or that the victim was not properly trained.
      There is the implication that this might not have been an accident. If so, all of the finger pointing don't change the deep flaws in human beings which are not excluded from the workplace.
      Because we don't and won't know, please don't use a very sad death to jump on a hobby horse which might or might not have had anything to do with this incident.

    2. Eskimo Guest

      Fake Tim Dunn?
      I'd hope the real chatGPTim would take a deep breath before telling facts, such as financials from the earnings call how profitable the airline is ahead of competition and praising the superior performance of the A350, before concluding this is a sad accident without even trying to link the profits to the accident beyond it is the same airline. aka. chatGPTim's hobby horse.

      You need a tragic loss of life to understand that?

    3. Tim Dunn Diamond

      you are out of line.
      WAY out of line. But it is clear you have absolutely no remorse or inhibitions.
      Nowhere did I say anything about the A350 or any financials.

      There was something very different about Unifi's statement than was said for other workplace incidents.
      I DON'T know what happened but I know this should not be put in the same category as other incidents.

      And it also has nothing to do with finances or the A350.

    4. FaidyFo Guest

      Anyone who has dealt with the rotating shell game of DL ground handling services knows this is not out of line, more like expected. Always playing subcontractors off each other to keep the prices dirt cheap at the expense of experience, surprised it doesn’t happen more often. But as it wasn’t a DL mainline employee ED doesn’t give a crap! Nothing but cannonfodder (or turbofan fodder) in the eyes of big D.

    5. Tim Dunn Diamond

      kinda like what AA and UA are STILL doing w/ regional jet services and DL decided to quit doing several years ago?

    6. FaidyFo Guest

      Tim,

      I’m talking about the ground handling subcontractor shell game, which is the issue at hand, not regional lift…. Try to stay on topic! DL always excelling at treating their subcontractors like dirt, always weaseling out of contractual obligations… a horrible airline to do business with.

    7. Eskimo Guest

      This is really the fake Tim Dunn.
      No other fluff is mentioned because you didn't pull a Tim Dunn.

    8. CecilO Guest

      I agree…. Something is off with Tim, he is posting as if he’s a normal human being I might want to have a conversation with. Hmmmm

  8. Maryland Guest

    Since this is the second ingestion in six months, extra scrutiny should apply. OSHA fined Piedmont $15,000 for the Alabama death. Piedmont was claiming they had three safety meetings the day of the incident. That said I am reluctant to swallow the narrative from the ground contractor in this case until NTSB investigation is complete.

  9. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

    Can we all allow for a bit of "Personal Responsibility", ever? My husband works for a government organization that is unionized and heavily regulated with hundreds of thousands of employees. They have extensive safety trainings and even have not just daily safety meetings, but SHIFT safety meetings (3 a day, sometimes more). They make every employee aware of any incident and how it could have been stopped from happening. He has worked there 27 years...

    Can we all allow for a bit of "Personal Responsibility", ever? My husband works for a government organization that is unionized and heavily regulated with hundreds of thousands of employees. They have extensive safety trainings and even have not just daily safety meetings, but SHIFT safety meetings (3 a day, sometimes more). They make every employee aware of any incident and how it could have been stopped from happening. He has worked there 27 years and it never ceases to amaze me: People lift the wrong way, People drive forklifts dangerously, People wear earbuds and listen to music/blogs/podcasts, People don't take breaks, People get distracted, People still are on their phones all day long (even when they aren't allowed on the work floor), People stackup bundles too high to get the job done faster, People don't inspect what they are about to handle, People are HUMANS and get distracted and don't follow what they are taught and the rules the company has set forth to keep them SAFE. Sometimes is it an "bad company" or "bad supervisors" fault? Yes. But let's not all jump on American Airlines or Delta (in this case) and ASSUME the employee was doing everything they were supposed to. Everyone always jumps to legal this and sue that and fine this. Have any of Y'all been around a service worker lately??? There is a new generation of distracted people who are plugged into their devices and could care less about the teams safety score or anything else but whatever they are focused on. Just be mindful of that too.

    1. iamhere Guest

      100% agree. Always someone else's fault.

  10. Paper Boarding Pass Guest

    “From our initial investigation, this incident was unrelated to Unifi’s operational processes, safety procedures and policies......"

    I think the lawyers will resolve that issue...

    1. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

      They are saying this was a Suicide. Investigators before Lawyers and litigation. Not everything needs to be in court.

  11. derek Guest

    More than 20 years ago, Northwest Airlines was still using reverse thrust on its DC-9's to push back from the gate. I used to like to hear the roar from the cabin. A Delta Air Lines pilot told me that company rules prohibit them from doing that.

    1. Rarebus A380 Guest

      That’s because:
      1.) It’s substantially more expensive due to the increased strain being placed on the engine and the additional fuel being swallowed for that operation.
      2.) It’s substantially more risky. Much more of an opportunity to injest or jetblast something or someone.

      The pushback vehicles are a much more effective tool.

  12. Tom Guest

    Clickbait aside, the story has a fundamental problem and misunderstanding of the operation of a jet engine. The amount of thrust produced (which is mentioned multiple times as a potential causation) has nothing to do with the sad chain of events. Thrust is the amount of air produced out of the end of engine, not at the intake. The ramp worker was not pushed or blown down by thrust (which does also happen) but ingested...

    Clickbait aside, the story has a fundamental problem and misunderstanding of the operation of a jet engine. The amount of thrust produced (which is mentioned multiple times as a potential causation) has nothing to do with the sad chain of events. Thrust is the amount of air produced out of the end of engine, not at the intake. The ramp worker was not pushed or blown down by thrust (which does also happen) but ingested by the high flow of air at the intake (or front) of the engine.

  13. Maryland Guest

    When the story is about a death, I try to hold off judgement until we've got more information. Prayers for the deceased and the family.

  14. Terry Guest

    Unfortunately, this is part of aviation. There are both inherent risks and human error involved.
    There is no indication that this was suicide, and we probably would never know unless the worker left a message.
    Also, if you mental health is negatively impacted by stories like this, you may want to self-filter what you choose to click on. It is news and needs to be covered.

    1. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

      The companies are both saying now that this was Suicide. And I TOTALLY agree with You on both fronts: This is travel blog with all things related to it. And SELF FILTER if Your so "affected" by anything.

  15. lars Guest

    Sounds like the company is trying to say it was a suicide without saying it was a suicide.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Sadly, that does seem to be what is being said.

    2. Jr Guest

      You don't know that and you shouldn't say that. Have some respect for the family. I usually like your posts but this one you should stay quiet on.

    3. SMK77 Guest

      I think we now know that the assumption was indeed correct and I concur with Tim Dunn that the legal language used was strongly pointing towards that:

      https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jun/26/texas-airport-worker-jet-engine-suicide

  16. Nikojas Guest

    I’ve read this blog every day for a decade but the recent trend of covering murders, deaths, assaults and deadly accidents is really putting me off and bad for my mental health. I didn’t come here on a relaxed Sunday morning for this. I’m looking for travel ideas, and reviews not the worst in humanity!

    1. Lukas Diamond

      Those types of stories get most clicks though and clicks pay bills, so expect to see the same amount of articles like this, if not more.

    2. Grey Diamond

      Surely the bills are paid by CC referrals and by the Ford TA referrals.

    3. Lukas Diamond

      Most definitely but you can never have too much money, right? ;)

    4. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

      Really Nikojas? LOL. Have You read any other aviation travel blog? This is meant to tell us what's happening around the areas we spend the most time in: Airports and Hotels. I want to know what's happening to workers below my window and if I could die at a hotel. Get over Yourself.

    5. Nikojas Guest

      Your comment is so helpful Thank you.

    6. Chris Guest

      Easy peasy. Don't click on a story that doesn't interest you.

    7. Malc Diamond

      I've also read the blog daily for over a decade. I don't see that there is more of this type of story now. It has always covered numerous aspects of air travel.

    8. iamhere Guest

      So only read the articles that interst you.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Bob Guest

Ben: Your comments sound to me like someone that has never worked at a physical job, let alone a job with risk for injury. I was a production supervisor with 10 people each shift, and all were experienced workers. Sometimes safe awareness, safe practices, and attention to detail, were not the worker's top priority. Everyone that has worked on an hourly basis with a production goal or target knows one must act with a sense of purpose and sometime urgency. If there is some sort of different shifts, or different start times weekly, that complicates the employee focus. I am sorry for the death that occurred. It is not always the company's fault.

2
BenjaminGuttery Diamond

Can we all allow for a bit of "Personal Responsibility", ever? My husband works for a government organization that is unionized and heavily regulated with hundreds of thousands of employees. They have extensive safety trainings and even have not just daily safety meetings, but SHIFT safety meetings (3 a day, sometimes more). They make every employee aware of any incident and how it could have been stopped from happening. He has worked there 27 years and it never ceases to amaze me: People lift the wrong way, People drive forklifts dangerously, People wear earbuds and listen to music/blogs/podcasts, People don't take breaks, People get distracted, People still are on their phones all day long (even when they aren't allowed on the work floor), People stackup bundles too high to get the job done faster, People don't inspect what they are about to handle, People are HUMANS and get distracted and don't follow what they are taught and the rules the company has set forth to keep them SAFE. Sometimes is it an "bad company" or "bad supervisors" fault? Yes. But let's not all jump on American Airlines or Delta (in this case) and ASSUME the employee was doing everything they were supposed to. Everyone always jumps to legal this and sue that and fine this. Have any of Y'all been around a service worker lately??? There is a new generation of distracted people who are plugged into their devices and could care less about the teams safety score or anything else but whatever they are focused on. Just be mindful of that too.

2
Nikojas Guest

I’ve read this blog every day for a decade but the recent trend of covering murders, deaths, assaults and deadly accidents is really putting me off and bad for my mental health. I didn’t come here on a relaxed Sunday morning for this. I’m looking for travel ideas, and reviews not the worst in humanity!

2
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