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FAA Confirms Hawaiian Airlines Aircraft Struck Vehicle

We reported yesterday that an early morning Thursday incident at Kahului Airport was under investigation. First reported by the Hawaii Department of Transportation, the accident occurred on the airport apron at Maui’s airport and resulted in the serious injury and hospitalization of a Hawaiian Airlines employee.

The apron is where planes park and are serviced. While tarmac is the word often used, it’s been pointed out that the term isn’t correct. Tarmac is the name of a British company that produces the surface coating on airfields.

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FAA says the aircraft taxied prematurely, striking the ground vehicle.

The collision occurred between a Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717 jet and a ground equipment vehicle shortly after 6 a.m., following the push-back from Gate 17. The occupant of the ground vehicle was transported to Maui Memorial Hospital.

The 19-year-old Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717, was reported to have 114 passengers and five crew members on board at the time.

Equipment and ground crew had not cleared the aircraft. The plane began moving nonetheless and hit the tug, which resulted in the ground worker incurring serious injuries.

As of Friday morning, the plane remains on the ground at OGG, as reported by Aviation Herald.

The FAA report included the following information.

“During pushback operations, aircraft began to taxi before ramp personnel were clear. Aircraft impacted tug causing injury to ramp worker.”


Hawaiian Airlines was forced to cancel Flight 105 due to the incident. The flight, scheduled to depart Kahului at 6:00 a.m. and arrive in Honolulu at 6:39 a.m., was affected by the collision.

While the extent of the injuries to the Hawaiian Airlines employee remains unknown, reports were that they are not life-threatening. The airline expressed gratitude for the swift response of airport first responders and medical personnel in transporting the employee to the hospital.

In response to the incident, passengers on the affected Hawaiian Airlines aircraft were deplaned, and the flight was subsequently canceled. Alternate arrangements were made to accommodate passengers on other flights.

Regarding airline ground incidents, collisions between aircraft and ground vehicles, known as ramp or ground incidents, are significant occurrences that can occur on airport aprons. These incidents typically involve support vehicles such as aircraft tugs, such as in this case, as well as baggage carriers, catering vehicles, or fuel trucks colliding with aircraft. Investigations are standard practice in such cases, aiming to determine the cause of the collision and implement preventive measures for the future.

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Airport terminology corrected.

Yesterday, officials referred to the incident as having occurred on the airport “tarmac.” We subsequently had emails on that terminology from a very regular reader and commenter AMT:

“So there is no such thing as a tarmac at any airport. Where this incident occurred was on the ramp or apron area. The Apron is the place where airplanes park to board passengers and refuel. The term ramp is outdated but still commonly used in North America and a few other places. Apron is the internationally accepted term for this area of the airport. Calling a taxiway “the tarmac” is like calling it “the asphalt” or “the reinforced concrete.” It makes absolutely no sense and causes confusion.”

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9 thoughts on “FAA Confirms Hawaiian Airlines Aircraft Struck Vehicle”

  1. Looks like the real story about Hawaiian Airlines failures was ignored while joking about terminology.

    Not so funny now for the over 7,000 employees of HA.

  2. No no no…”Tarmac” is a chocolate mac left out in the sun, melted and gone bad! “Tarmac delays” are the consequences of leaving a box of said candies outside and they no longer are edible…….

  3. Using the word “tarmac”, is exactly like saying “filming” a video, “taping” a TV show, turning things “clockwise” and “counterclockwise”, “dialing” a phone number, wearing “glasses”, “rewinding” a video, “rolling” down a car window, etc…
    The technology has changed but the word is still understood and used in everyday language.
    Juan and Rod W are correct about the DOT legal use of the term tarmac delay and definition as apron or runway.
    To suggest the dictionary is wrong is hilarious.

  4. I have read the tarmac discussions with interest; I do believe governmental mentions of the term are out of date and airline personnel use more accurate names such as ramp and apron.
    Here is some further information on the history of the term.

    “Macadam is also referred to as Tarmacadam, which is where the name Tarmac (actually a brand name) came from. It is also referred to as Bituminous Macadam and Bitmac. Macadam was invented by John MacAdam in the 1800s who bound smaller aggregates together using naturally occurring tar, hence the term Tarmacadam.”

  5. The DOT has federal regulations regarding “Tarmac Delays” transportation.gov/individuals/aviation-consumer-protection/tarmac-delays.

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