Watch What Happens When an Airline Tug Jackknifes With a Jet in Tow
Luckily, the tug driver was fine, but it’s a great example of why towing a 90,000-pound plane is not as easy as it looks.
Tugs are good little trucks that tow aircraft from gate to gate or from storage to taxiing areas. They also are relatively tricky to maneuver, as this video from La Guardia Airport on Tuesday clearly shows.
The first video shows the aftermath of the incident; the second video shows how it happened. The tug driver, towing a Boeing 737-800, made a sharp right turn, and the plane's momentum caused a jackknife. The 91,000-pound plane had enough momentum to snap the tow bar like a twig, and the jet rolled directly on top of the tug, flattening the cab.
The Drive reached out to American Airlines to confirm the incident and check on the tug driver. An airport official stated that there were "no reported injuries to team members [but] as a precautionary measure, one team member was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation." The video shows the tug driver clearly pinned inside the now-demolished cab but without injuries. Clearly, they had incredibly good reflexes to duck before the plane rolled directly over them.
The company also stated the plane was empty at the time and was being moved from a hangar to the gate for a departure. After the incident, it was swapped out for another plane, and the underbelly-damaged craft was towed back to a hangar for inspection and repairs. The company stated an investigation into the crash is open, presumably to determine just exactly what went wrong to get a jackknife this severe to happen.
The jet in question appears to be N949NN, which last flew from Miami to La Guardia on Monday. It's unclear what route it was scheduled to fly next and whether the incident caused any delays, although La Guardia officials confirmed to The Drive that the incident didn't impact operations.