Accident Boeing 737-524 N32626,
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Date:Monday 16 January 2006
Type:Silhouette image of generic B735 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Boeing 737-524
Owner/operator:Continental Airlines
Registration: N32626
MSN: 27530/2686
Year of manufacture:1994
Total airframe hrs:29773 hours
Engine model:CFM International CFM56-391
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 119
Other fatalities:1
Aircraft damage: Minor
Location:El Paso International Airport (ELP) -   United States of America
Phase: Standing
Nature:Passenger - Scheduled
Departure airport:El Paso International Airport (ELP)
Destination airport:Houston, TX (IAH)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
The flight crew of the Boeing 737-524 discovered a puddle of fluid on the tarmac under the number 2 (right) engine during the prefight inspection of a scheduled passenger airline flight. Airline station personnel had received authorization to call contract maintenance to investigate the oil leak from one of the airline's senior maintenance controllers. As a result, three mechanics from a fixed base operator (FBO) at the airport were called by the airline station personnel. The FBO had previously entered into an agreement with the airline to provide contract maintenance at the airport.

All of the airline's maintenance manuals were maintained at the airline's headquarters maintenance control base. According to the airline's procedures, extracts of those manuals with specific procedures were required to be transmitted prior to the contractor performing maintenance, and only after authorization by the airline's maintenance control.

After becoming concerned about the delay in hearing back regarding the investigation into the engine leak, a senior maintenance controller for the airline attempted to contact airline station personnel, and the FBO, several times to determine what instructions and authorizations would be needed. The investigation revealed that the FBO did not make contact with the airline to obtain the requested maintenance approval and required documentation to work on the engine.

Meanwhile, both sides of the engine fan cowl panels were opened by the mechanics to conduct the engine inspection and check for leaks. The mechanics made a request to the captain (via ground-to-cockpit intercom system) for an engine run to check for the leak source. One mechanic positioned himself on the inboard side of the right engine and the other mechanic on the outboard side of the engine. The third mechanic was positioned clear of the engine because he was assigned to observe 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 by the two journeymen mechanics that were working around the engine. One of these two mechanics then called the captain on the ground intercom system and reported that a small oil leak was detected, and he requested that the captain run the engine at 70 percent power for 2 minutes to conduct further checks. The captain complied with the request, after verifying with the mechanic that the area around the airplane was clear.

Witnesses on the ground and in the airplane stated that they saw the mechanic on the outboard side of the engine stand up, step into the inlet hazard zone, and become ingested into the intake of the engine. This occurred about 90 seconds into the 70-percent-power engine run. The mechanic was not wearing any type of safety equipment or lanyard to prevent the ingestion. Upon sensing a buffet, the captain immediately retarded the power lever back to the idle position. The first officer stated to the captain that something went into the engine and the captain immediately cut off the start lever to stop the engine run.

The mechanic who was fatally injured was hired by the FBO in November 1997, and had been a certified mechanic for 40 years. He received maintenance training from the airline regarding on-call maintenance procedures in March 2004, nearly two years prior to the accident. The airline provided training to contract maintenance stations in the form of classroom instruction, interactive computer based scenarios, and training videos. Specific training (either initial or recurrent) regarding ground engine runs and associated hazards was not provided to the contract mechanics by the airline.

According to the surviving contract mechanic that worked around the engine with the fatally injured mechanic, maintenance instructions were not needed for the engine run because engine oil leaks were a common occurrence, and because of his past experience as a mechanic.

Under the section entitled "Engine Run Rules - General" i
Probable Cause: the mechanic's failure to maintain proper clearance with the engine intake during a jet engine run, and the failure of contract maintenance personnel to follow written procedures and directives contained in the airline's general maintenance manual. Factors contributing to the accident were the insufficient training provided to the contract mechanics by the airline, and the failure of the airport to disseminate a policy prohibiting ground engine runs above idle power in the terminal area.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: DFW06FA056
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report




Revision history:

30-Apr-2014 07:03 Katonk2014 Added
03-May-2014 10:29 Katonk2014 Updated [Total fatalities]
21-Dec-2016 19:28 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
05-Dec-2017 09:00 ASN Update Bot Updated [Cn, Operator, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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