French investigators have cautioned against ground-handling procedures which assume that an arriving aircraft is safe to approach after the anti-collision beacon is switched off.
It follows an incident at Chambery in which a ramp agent was injured after being hurled by jet blast after the crew forgot to shut down the engines of a British Airways CityFlyer Embraer 190.
Shutdown is supposed to take place before the beacon is switched off. The ramp agent was wearing anti-noise headphones and could not tell the engines were still running when the beacon was extinguished.
The flight, arriving from London City on 21 January last year, had executed a go-around on approach after encountering windshear, during which the aircraft reached overspeed at full flap.
As the 190 reached its parking position the crew was discussing the go-around and maintenance issues arising from the overspeed.
This discussion interrupted the shutdown procedure. While the pilots switched off the beacon, French investigation authority BEA says they “forgot to stop the engines”.
Only after the cabin crew opened the aircraft doors were the pilots alerted to the oversight, it says, by which time the ramp agent had been “violently” thrown by the jet blast while passing behind the engine.
BEA notes that the third-party handler has since amended its procedures to include a confirmation of engine shutdown, but says there are “many” companies which enable ground staff to approach and aircraft under the “false” assumption that an extinguished beacon means the engines are off.