Investigators aren’t sure why Scruggs didn’t see the propeller” she walked into last night. 

Um, maybe because a spinning propeller is pretty much invisible? Especially at nightLauren Scruggs?

News reports are that incidents such as Lauren Scruggs’, who is a model and fashion blogger, are rare. Maybe, but it would depend on what one means by “rare.”  Seems that someone is killed or seriously injured by a spinning prop every year. Some reports of incidents from my local area alone are here and here.

During the day, spinning propellers have a mesmerizing effect. People have been known to see them, yet walk right into them. 

Of course, at night, propellers can be virtually invisible.

In almost all prop-strike cases, pilot error plays a role. A pilot needs to think carefully before allowing a passenger to deplane with the engine running. Here, apparently, theAviat Husky pilot allowed Scruggs to exit the aircraft with the engine running so that another passenger could take her seat. Certainly it would have been safer to shut down the engine of the Aviat Husky he was flying before allowing passengers to leave or approach the aircraft. “Hot loading” – allowing passengers to get into the aircraft with the engine running — is safe only when the passengers have been carefully briefed on procedures.  Even then, it’s best permitted only with the help of a trained spotter who walks one passenger away from the aircraft and then walks the next passenger in.

Here are some common guidelines for propeller safety:

  • The aircraft engine should be shut down before boarding or deplaning passengers. This is the simplest method of avoiding accidents.
  • Boarding or deplaning of passengers, with an engine running, should only be allowed under close supervision. The pilot in command should have knowledge that either the company or the airport operator has ground attendants fully trained in their specific duties to board or deplane passengers from an aircraft with an engine(s) running. The pilot should instruct passengers, before they exit an aircraft with an engine(s) running, the path to follow to avoid the propeller or rotor blades.
  • When it is necessary to discharge a passenger from an aircraft on which an engine is running, never stop the aircraft with the propeller in the path of the passenger’s route from the aircraft.