Accident in Blenheim

A Study in Human Factors

Accident News

Recently, an aircraft engineer in Blenheim Airport was killed for what we called a freak accident, a news everybody in aviation industry don’t want to hear. The engineer was working for Safe Air, an MRO (maintenance, repair, overhaul) that works on both commercial and military aircraft. According to the recent investigation the man was working on a T56 engine of a C-130 Hercules. He was doing a routine maintenance test on the engine when he was sucked by the engine. The engine was on an engine test stand without the propeller installed and the engine is being controlled/ monitored in a control booth . Doing this kind of job lands on a very experienced engineer. The man was a very well respected as he is a very experienced aircraft engineer, was always very cautious and diligent. He had been involved with engines most of his working career.

The Test Stand (image embedded from [] 14/08/2011)

Accident Feedback

The aircraft engineer may have entered the enclosure while doing the engine test.

Human Factor Analysis

My first job as an aircraft engineer way back then was on T53 of Huey helicopter and T56 of C-130 Hercules. We have our own test cell (enclosed) to test the performance of the engine before being installed to the aircraft. We are at least 5 meters in front, back and all side of the engine (installed on the aircraft already) when performing a test run especially on a C-130 Hercules, this is the safest distance away from the engine while performing such task. In this case, the engineer may not follow the safety rules that governs when doing a test run especially if the test is done on an open field and not on a enclosed environment.

Factors that may contribute to the accident

  • Lack of concentration
  • Complacency
  • Distraction

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