Event Details

Title:Collision with tug, Boeing 727-223, Philadelphia, January 6, 1998
Micro summary:This Boeing 727-223 collided with a tug.
Event Time:1998-01-06 at 1210 EST
File Name:1998-01-06-US.pdf
Publishing Agency:National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
Publishing Country:USA
Report number:IAD98LA021
Site of event:Philadelphia, PA
Departure:Philadelphia International Airport, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Destination:Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Dallas & Fort Worth, Texas, USA
Airplane Type(s):Boeing 727-223
Flight Phase:Taxi
Operator(s):American Airlines
Type of flight:Revenue
Serious Injuries:1
Other Injuries:1
Executive Summary:

NTSB short summary:

failure of the tug driver to see-and-avoid the taxiing airplane.

NTSB synopsis:

The airplane had just been pushed back from the gate. As the flight crew were taxiing in a non-movement area, the airplane and a tug collided. The captain felt the impact, but thought the airplane had experienced a blown tire. Neither he nor any of the cockpit crew saw the tug before impact. All witnesses stated that the tug did not brake or swerve prior to the collision. Examination of the damaged tug and its maintenance forms revealed no mechanical problems. No deficiencies were found in the driver's training jacket. After a 2 week vacation, this was the driver's first day back on the job. He was driving the tug since 0430, without any reported mechanical problems. The emergency room doctor stated that there was no symptoms detected of any medical events which could have caused the driver to lose consciousness. The driver recalled that 'while driving the tug, he dropped his water container, and the last thing he could remember was reaching down for it.'

NTSB factual narrative text:

On January 6, 1998, at 1210 eastern standard time, American Airlines Flight 2027, a Boeing 727-223, N845AA, sustained minor damage when it was struck by a ground tug while taxiing for takeoff at the Philadelphia International Airport, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The certificated airline transport captain, first officer, flight engineer, 4 flight attendants, and 107 passengers were not injured. The driver of the tug received serious injuries. Instrument meteorological conditions existed and a instrument flight plan was filed. The scheduled domestic flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 121, destined for Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.

The pilot stated that after push back from the gate, they were taxiing to spot number 2 in the "non movement" area, when they felt an impact. The captain stated he thought the airplane had experienced a blown tire and neither he nor any of the cockpit crew saw the tug prior to impact. The Cockpit Voice Recorder was removed from the airplane and verified the pilot's statement.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspectors gathered witness statements, which indicated that the tug, pulling baggage carts, did not attempt to slow up or avoid the airplane. The FAA Inspectors stated that there were no skid marks left by the tug prior to the collision. When the airplane came to a stop, the tug was under the airplane's right main wheel mount, and one of the baggage carts being towed was impacted by the left main wheel mount. The damage to the airplane was confined to the leading edge of the left wing root and to the bottom of the fuselage. The tug was found at the scene with the engine running and the transmission engaged.

The FAA Inspectors, with assistance from the Philadelphia police, examined the tug and reviewed the "Work History" and "Direct Labor and Parts" forms for the tug. No pertinent problems were written on the forms, and the vehicle's brakes and steering were found in good operating condition. The driver's training record was reviewed and current, with his last physical completed October 14, 1997. The driver was on vacation from December 23, 1997, through January 5, 1998. After a 2 week vacation, this was the tug driver's first day back at work. He had been operating this tug since 0430, without any reported mechanical problems.

The emergency room doctor stated that the tug driver had lost 11 pints of blood from the injuries sustained in the accident. No symptoms of any medical events which would have caused the driver to lose consciousness were discovered. Tests results for drugs and alcohol were negative. Two nights after the accident while recovering from his injuries, the tug driver called his supervisor and relayed, "that while driving the tug, he had dropped his water container, and was reaching down for it. That was the last thing that he could remember."

An assessment team from American Airlines, along with FAA Inspectors from the Philadelphia Flight Standards District Office, documented the damage sustained by the airplane. On January 8, 1998, the airplane was released to American Airlines and on January 12, 1998, after an examination of the damaged tug and its maintenance logbook, the tug was released.
Learning Keywords:Operations - Ground Collision
Consequence - Damage - Airframe or fuselage
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