A United Airlines plane struck a jetbridge yesterday in Alaska as it was taxiing to the gate.
…No one was injured in the mishap at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport involving a Boeing 757 shortly before 1:30 p.m. Thursday, following a nonstop flight from Chicago.
Department of Transportation spokesman Roger Wetherell says the jet and bridge sustained minor damage.
Rahsaan Johnson, a spokesman for the Chicago-based airline, says Flight 431 was carrying 168 passengers and six crew members when the jet’s left wing hit the bridge.
He says those on board were able to safely exit the plane.
A continuing flight to San Francisco was canceled. Johnson says a maintenance crew will assess the damage to the jet…
This story is the airline equivalent of getting into an accident with a parked car. I won’t jump to conclusions because I think UA’s pilots are the most professional in the business, but I wonder who is at fault? The ground staff or the pilots? You don’t just hit a jetbridge…
EDIT: See Randy’s comment below for a likely explanation of what happened.
As I run station operations for another airline (way smaller,) it is possible that ground personel left the jetway out of position (outside its proscribed safety zone,) and then the marsheler taxi’d the aircraft into it. Normally there are also wing walkers, but some airlines are cheap, or the guys are late to the gate for an arriving flight, to have enough personel to bring an aircraft into a gate.
A pilot is primarily focused on the taxi instructions given by the marshelor (the guy waving him in with the wands,) not making sure everything is set on the ramp as he taxis in. It is the station’s responsibility to make sure the ramp is cleared and ground equipment are stowed in their appropriate locations, away from where a plane and it it wings would occupy.
While I don’t know exactly what was involved in this incident, jumping to the possibility that alcohol may have been involved is a pretty serious charge (and a bit slanderous, but you are the one in law school) to bring up. Yes, that charge is a touchy one in our industry.
The most likely cause was a ramper or gate agent screwed up and let safety lapse.
@Randy: You are absolutely correct. It was wrong of me to jump to such a conclusion, even if I did preface it with a mitigating clause. I have edited my original post to reflect your well-reasoned concerns.
Thanks for filling me in on a more likely explanation for the incident.
I shall be more careful before hypothesizing next time!
Thanks for the edits. Anyone involved in an accident of any sort (at my airline at least) is immediately relieved of duty and tested. It isn’t something taken lightly and sometimes is a giant pain when half a ramp shift is suddenly off work over something like this UA incident. I can’t speak to their practices, but can only assume theirs are similar to ours.