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Thu, Feb 02, 2006

NTSB Releases Prelim On El Paso Mechanic Fatality

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 zone.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=20060131X00140&key=1

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