A few years back I was working ramp for Comair in FNT and I saw first hand what a tug and a two week trainee can do to a brand new aircraft. The day before the Airtran 717 went on maintanence and it was a direct flight to MCO
over Christmas. I remember the station manager running around doing everything she could to get another AC
up to FNT. That evening Airtran Corperate sent a brand spanking new 717 up to FNT to accomadate all those pax going to MCO
The plane had less than a 1000hrs on it.
I was in the tug pushing back our Comair CRJ and I heard a giant POP
! It was so loud I could see our pilots looking around. None of us could tell exactly what it was as we all had head phones on and the engines were running. We continued with our pushback. I remember looking over at the Airtran 717 parked at the adjacent jetway. It had what appreared to be a big access panel open on the nose of the aircraft. I didnt think much of it but as I was pulling back up from the push back I realized that it wasnt an access panel but a giant gouge in the nose of the AC
. Next to it was a winter tug with its front and back window blown out.
Some poor trainee that was only there for two weeks was pulling the lav cart up to the AC
. Instead of going forward she dropped it in reverse and slammed into the plane. I saw the Airtran station manager actually crying when she found out what happened. I felt really bad for her after all that work she did to get eveyone on thier way. The FAA spent two days at the airport and the AC
was grounded for over a week until they could cut all the metal out and replace it with a sheet of sheet medal to ferry it to Maintenance.
The fortunate thing was that there was no pax onboard yet and what was an inccedent could very well have been and accident.