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Piedmont Airlines Conducting Inquiry into Montgomery Airport Tragedy

2023

In a tragic incident at Montgomery Regional Airport on December 31, 2022, 34-year-old Courtney Edwards, a Piedmont Airlines ground service agent, lost her life after being pulled into a jet engine. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently concluded its investigation, revealing critical safety lapses that might have averted the fatal accident.

According to the OSHA report released on Wednesday, Piedmont Airlines, a subsidiary of American Airlines, could have prevented the incident through proper training and enforcement of safety procedures. The report indicates that had the ground crew followed required safety protocols, Edwards might have avoided the fatal injuries sustained from the spinning turbines.

OSHA Area Director Jose A. Gonzalez emphasized the importance of safety measures even in routine assignments. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) had previously released preliminary findings, noting that safety protocols were not adhered to, potentially preventing harm to individuals near the aircraft.

Piedmont Airlines now faces $15,625 in proposed penalties as per federal statute. OSHA cited the airline for one serious violation, exposing ground crew workers to ingestion hazards during various tasks.

In response to the findings, Piedmont Airlines contested the citation, asserting that their current policies comply with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements. They emphasized their commitment to safety, stating that ongoing collaboration with unions ensures a secure working environment for their team members.

Edwards' tragic death has left a profound impact on her colleagues, friends, and the union representing her. The Communication Workers of America (CWA) set up a GoFundMe page to support Edwards' family, surpassing its $25,000 goal within days. Colleagues remember Edwards as a dedicated and motivated worker, raising concerns about the mental wellness of those who witnessed the accident.

As investigations continue, both OSHA and the FAA are closely examining the circumstances that led to this rare and unfortunate industrial accident. The incident serves as a sobering reminder of the critical importance of strict adherence to safety protocols in the aviation industry, where lapses can result in devastating consequences.

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