A regional subsidiary of American Airlines was hit with a $15,625 fine by federal safety regulators over the death of a ground crew worker who was sucked into the engine of a plane at an Alabama airport on New Year’s Eve.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration levied the fine against Piedmont Airlines after investigators found it was responsible for a safety breach that led to the death of Courtney Edwards, a mother of three, at Montgomery Regional Airport on Dec. 31.
An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board found that Edwards, 34, was “ingested into the engine” while “on the ramp at Montgomery Regional Airport where American Airlines Flight 3408, an Embraer E175, was parked.”
The NTSB found that the ground crew at the Montgomery airport held two safety briefings 10 minutes before the plane, which ferried passengers to and from Dallas-Fort Worth, arrived at the gate.
Employees were told they should not approach the aircraft until the engine was shut off and a beacon light was turned off, according to the NTSB report, which was cited by the Dallas Morning News.
After the flight arrived in Montgomery, the pilot was given an alert that the front cargo door was being opened just as he started to shut down the right engine.
Surveillance footage showed Edwards walking toward the plane’s rear while holding an orange safety cone, according to the NTSB report.
In the video, Edwards disappears from view. A short time later, the tragedy took place, according to the report.
A co-pilot reported that the “airplane shook violently followed by the immediate automatic shutdown.”
The Post has sought comment from OSHA, Piedmont Airlines, and American Airlines.
A GoFundMe was launched to help Edwards’ three children. As of Friday, it raised more than $114,000 — more than four times its initial goal of $25,000.
“Courtney was a Ground Handling agent for Piedmont Airlines, a subsidiary of American Airlines, a loving mother of 3 kids and a wonderful daughter to her beloved mother, Natalie English of Montgomery, Alabama,” according to the GoFundMe page.
“Please know that this tragedy has and will affect her mother, family, friends and kids for years to come.”
Shortly after the incident, American Airlines released a statement that read: “We are devastated by the accident involving a team member of Piedmont Airlines, an American Airlines regional carrier, at Montgomery Regional Airport (MGM).”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and our local team members.”
“We are focused on ensuring that all involved have the support they need during this difficult time,” the company said.
Edwards’ union, the Communication Workers of America, released a statement saying that OSHA found that the airline was at fault for “lack of effective training, clear and unambiguous communication on the ramp, and clear instructions from supervisors as to when it is safe to approach an aircraft.”