The NTSB has released a
preliminary report on the tragic accident that occurred last month
in which a mechanic was killed when he inexplicably stepped in
front of a 737 engine during a high-power run-up.
NTSB Identification: DFW06FA056
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 121: Air Carrier operation of Continental
Airlines (D.B.A. operation of Continental Airlines)
Accident occurred Monday, January 16, 2006 in El Paso, TX
Aircraft: Boeing 737-500, registration: N32626
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 119 Uninjured.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may
contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when
the final report has been completed.
On January 16, 2006 at 0905 mountain standard time, Continental
Airlines flight 1515, a Boeing 737-524 airplane, N32626, was
preparing for departure from El Paso International Airport (ELP),
El Paso Texas when a mechanic was fatally injured while performing
a maintenance trouble shooting procedure for a suspected engine oil
leak on the number 2 engine. The aircraft was being operated as a
scheduled domestic passenger flight under the provisions of Title
14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121. The flight was scheduled
to depart at 0910 with a destination of George Bush
Intercontinental/Houston Airport (IAH), Houston, Texas. Visual
meteorological conditions existed at the time, and an instrument
flight plan was on file for the flight. The 5 crew members and 114
passengers were not injured.
During a walk around
inspection conducted by the First Officer, a puddle of fluid was
noticed on the tarmac under the number 2 engine. The First Officer
met the Captain and brought it to his attention. Both the Captain
and the First Officer went to the number 2 engine and agreed that
it appeared to be an oil leak. The Captain notified El Paso
operations from the cockpit to request authorization for contract
maintenance to check for problems on the engine.
At approximately 0845, El Paso operations contacted Continental
maintenance control and was advised to have the contract
maintenance personnel investigate the Captain's report. Three
mechanics arrived and began to investigate the oil leak. Both sides
of the engine fan cowl panels were opened to conduct the checks.
The mechanics made a request to the Captain for an engine run to
check for the leak source since they determined that the leak
appeared not to be a static leak.
One mechanic positioned himself on the inboard side of the
number 2 engine and the other mechanic on the outboard side of the
engine. The third mechanic was positioned clear of the engine and
the inlet hazard area observing the procedure as part of his on the
job training. The engine was started and stabilized at idle RPM for
approximately 3 minutes while the initial leak check was performed.
One mechanic then called the Captain on the ground intercom and
requested a run to 70 percent power for additional checks.
Approximately 1 and 1/2 minutes after reaching the requested RPM
setting the Captain reported sensing a slight buffeting that
rapidly increased in intensity followed by a compressor stall. At
that time the Captain immediately retarded the throttle back to the
idle position. The First Officer stated to the Captain that
something went into the engine and immediately cut off the start
lever ending the engine run. The mechanic on the outboard side of
the engine had stood up and stepped in to the inlet hazard