Event Details

Title:Ground collision between a Boeing 757 and Boeing 737, Chicago, May 11, 2002
Micro summary:This Boeing 757-33N struck a Boeing 737 during pushback.
Event Time:2002-05-11 at 1745 CST
File Name:2002-05-11-US.pdf
Publishing Agency:National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
Publishing Country:USA
Report number:CHI02LA128
Site of event:Chicago, IL
Departure:Chicago Midway Airport, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Destination:Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Airplane Type(s):Boeing 757-33N
Flight Phase:Taxi
Operator(s):American Trans Air
Type of flight:Revenue
Serious Injuries:
Other Injuries:0
Executive Summary:

NTSB short summary:

The ground personnel handled the aircraft improperly during pushback from the gate by failing to maintain clearance with the other parked aircraft. The light rain and the parked airplane that was contacted were factors.

NTSB synopsis:

According to witnesses, an ATA Boeing 757 collided with a SWA Boeing 737 during pushback from the gate. The SWA 737 was parked at a gate and the ATA Boeing 757 was being pushed back from another gate. The wing walkers for the ATA Boeing 757 reported they put up the "X" when they noticed the airplane was getting too close to the parked SWA 737. The tug driver reported the he lost visual contact with the wing walkers because of the landing gear. The captain of the ATA Boeing 757 reported that after it was confirmed that the aircraft had hit the SWA Boeing 737 they were pulled back into the gate. Light rain was present at the time of the accident.

NTSB factual narrative text:

On May 11, 2002, at 1745 central standard time, a Boeing 757-33N, N552TZ, operated by American Trans Air (ATA) as flight 211, sustained substantial damage when it struck a Boeing 737, N408WN, operated by Southwest Airlines (SWA) as flight number 1944 which was parked at gate F6 at Chicago Midway Airport, Chicago, Illinois. Visual meteorological conditions and light rain prevailed at the time of the accident. The pilot, co-pilot, five cabin attendants, and the 85 passengers on board ATA 211 were not injured. No injuries were reported by the 70 persons on board SWA 1944. ATA 211 was to depart for Phoenix, Arizona (PHX) and SWA flight number 1944 was to depart for Tampa, Florida.

According to written statements from eyewitnesses, the damage occurred while the ATA 211 was being pushed back from gate F3 located directly across from gate F6. It is reported that the wing walkers attempted to get the attention of the tug driver as the aircraft tails neared each other. The tug driver reported, "Knowing the bad weather, I was going slower then walking speed. As I kept pushing out I noticed that I was getting closer to the Southwest aircraft. So I was looking for my wingwalkers, but I lost visual contact...because of the landing gear." The tug driver stated that he was waiting for the stop sign from the wingwalkers and continued pushing until a wingwalker appeared from behind the aircraft and gave him the stop sign three to five feet from the other aircraft. The tug driver reported that the aircraft then slid into the other aircraft. The right elevator on the ATA 211 struck the right elevator on the SWA 1944 resulting in damage to the honeycomb structure of each aircraft.

One of the wing walkers reported that he was "...mostly looking at the back wing" during the pushback. He reported that he noticed the airplane was "... not going to make it..." and he immediately put up the "X". The airplane continued back contacting SWA 1944. The second wing walker reported, "I ... was wingwalking the left side and noticed ... who was pushing the aircraft out to far before swinging. I established the 'X' and the aircraft kept moving."

According to the captain's written statement, as the flight crew was preparing to start the right engine during pushback from the gate, the aircraft came to an abrupt stop. The captain reported, "The pushback appeared to be normal up until the point that we came to a quick stop. There was a wing walker on the left side of the aircraft, the push did not appear to be too fast, nor was the path of pushback unusual. In the cockpit I did not feel the collision, and in fact had no idea that we hit anything until told by the ground crew." The captain reported that after the collision the aircraft was pulled back to the gate. The captain stated that the aircraft was then tugged to another gate to deplane.

Learning Keywords:Operations - Ground Collision
Consequence - Damage - Airframe or fuselage
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