On June 14, 2000, while performing an engine run-up on a DC-9, a Continental Airlines mechanic “drove” the nose of the aircraft into the passenger terminal of the Newark International Airport. The FAA issued an order suspending the mechanic’s A & P certificate for violations of FAR 43.13(a) (failure to follow checklist procedures) and FAR 91.13(a) (careless and reckless). The administrative law judge dismissed the careless and reckless charge against the mechanic.
On appeal, the NTSB Board in Administrator v. Klein reversed the admistrative law judge and held that the mechanic’s conduct was careless and supported the independent careless and reckless charge (as opposed to a careless and reckless charge that is usually included as a “residual” charge by the FAA). The Board held that the mechanic was not “alert and vigilant” as he was required to be in that situation and that if he had “paid any attention to the cockpit instruments he would have seen the engine power increasing past idle even before the aircraft started to move.” In ordering a 60 day suspension, the Board commented that “by the time he figured out what was happening, he was so close that he was afraid for himself and he fell out of his seat when he was trying to work the brakes” and it felt the more egregious error was “that a mechanic in this position would not check the position of the thrust levers and engage the parking brake before starting an engine.”
Following procedures and maintaining situational awareness are critical in aviation, whether you are a pilot or a mechanic. Lack of diligence in either of these regards can lead to injuries, damage and/or the loss of your certificate(s). As the Board states, you need to be “alert and vigilant”.