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Cylinder
2006-Aug-27, 12:55 PM
'Multiple fatalities' in Kentucky plane crash (http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/08/27/plane.crash/index.html)


The crash of a Delta commuter flight -- en route from Lexington, Kentucky, to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport -- just after takeoff from Blue Grass Airport on Sunday caused "multiple fatalities," airlines and airport officials told CNN.

Federal Aviation Administration officials said Delta Flight 5191 -- which was operated by Delta's commuter carrier, Comair -- crashed around 7 a.m. ET in a wooded area about a mile from the airport.

At least 50 people were aboard the flight and it is not known if anyone survived, the officials said.

Delta Flight 5191 was scheduled to land at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport at 7:18 a.m.

mugaliens
2006-Aug-27, 02:46 PM
This is sad, as it ended the longest safety record ever enjoyed by commercial aviation, nearly 4 years. I don't know what the date of the previous crash was, but it was either late 2001, or some time in 2002. I know that last summer a newscast mentioned a three-year record, and I haven't heard of another commercial aircraft accident since then.

Cylinder
2006-Aug-27, 02:50 PM
It's looking fairly obvious that the flight attempted to take off from the wrong runway - 3500' instead of 6000'. A very tragic mistake.

Larry Jacks
2006-Aug-27, 06:32 PM
The last major US airline accident was in November 2001, almost 5 years ago. Since that time, literally millions of flights happened and the only fatality was to a child on the ground when a plane overran the end of the runway.

Larry Jacks
2006-Aug-27, 09:35 PM
Here's a link (http://www.airnav.com/airport/KLEX) to the airport info, including a runway diagram. If the news reports are accurate, it appears that they failed to taxi across the end of runway 26 to reach the end of runway 22. As a private pilot, I can think of a number of possible reasons why someone could make that mistake, including distraction, unfamiliarity with the airport, runway markings problem, and misunderstanding which runway they were cleared to use. The news reports state they simply acknowledged their clearance with a "roger" rather than repeating which runway they were cleared to use, a rather strange omission for professional pilots. When I was going for my instrument rating several years ago, my instructors beat into the importance of repeating back clearances to avoid mistakes. It's hard to believe two professional pilots would make such a fundamental error.

montebianco
2006-Aug-27, 09:36 PM
This is sad, as it ended the longest safety record ever enjoyed by commercial aviation, nearly 4 years.

Are we talking about US commercial aviation here? Didn't a plane just crash in the Ukraine last week?

jt-3d
2006-Aug-27, 11:28 PM
I would imagine we are. Globally planes crash all the time.


Here's a link (http://www.airnav.com/airport/KLEX) to the airport info, including a runway diagram. If the news reports are accurate, it appears that they failed to taxi across the end of runway 26 to reach the end of runway 22. As a private pilot, I can think of a number of possible reasons why someone could make that mistake, including distraction, unfamiliarity with the airport, runway markings problem, and misunderstanding which runway they were cleared to use. The news reports state they simply acknowledged their clearance with a "roger" rather than repeating which runway they were cleared to use, a rather strange omission for professional pilots. When I was going for my instrument rating several years ago, my instructors beat into the importance of repeating back clearances to avoid mistakes. It's hard to believe two professional pilots would make such a fundamental error.

The taxi clearance should have said 'cross runway 22' or something like that and that should have been read back, sure. It's a serious mistake, if true, but really, you can't rely on information leaked to the press on day 1. Let's just wait and see.

EDIT: If the F/O (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,210650,00.html) makes it, I guess it'll be cleared up soon. Hopefully it wasn't his takeoff though.

Cylinder
2006-Aug-28, 02:34 AM
NTSB: Crashed jet used shorter runway (http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/08/27/plane.crash/index.html)


A Comair commuter jet took off from a short runway used by private aircraft rather than a longer one typically used by commercial jets before it crashed Sunday morning, a National Transportation Safety Board official said.

Comair Flight 5191 crashed about half a mile past the end of the runway shortly after takeoff Sunday morning, killing 49 of the 50 people on board. The sole survivor, first officer James Polehinke, was in critical condition at a Lexington hospital.

The Delta commuter flight had been cleared to take off from the 7,000-foot Runway 22 at Lexington's Blue Grass Airport, sources told CNN earlier Sunday. Instead, evidence at the scene indicates the plane took off from Runway 26, which is about half as long, NTSB member Debbie Hersman told reporters Sunday evening.

"We're still working on determining what was going on in the cockpit, what information was discussed between air traffic controllers and the pilots," Hersman said. "That's part of our investigation, and we hope to have more information about that later."

Hersman would not discuss how or why the plane ended up on the shorter runway. Nor would she say whether the Canadian-built Bombardier CRJ-100 would have been able to successfully take off from a 3,500-foot runway.

But former NTSB Vice Chairman Bob Francis told CNN that the twin-engine jet would have needed about 5,000 feet of runway for a successful takeoff.

mugaliens
2006-Aug-28, 04:26 PM
I would imagine we are. Globally planes crash all the time.



The taxi clearance should have said 'cross runway 22' or something like that and that should have been read back, sure. It's a serious mistake, if true, but really, you can't rely on information leaked to the press on day 1. Let's just wait and see.

EDIT: If the F/O (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,210650,00.html) makes it, I guess it'll be cleared up soon. Hopefully it wasn't his takeoff though.

I recall omitting the runway during one readback: "copy, tower, cleared to taxi and hold", and immediately received, "Cessna 1234, you're cleared to taxi and hold on runway 04. Please confirm runway, and it's Little Rock tower."

HenrikOlsen
2006-Aug-29, 12:23 PM
Does LEX have ground radar for tracking taxiing planes?

Extra info is that the taxi routes where changed (http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060828/NEWS99/60828012) only a week before the accident due to repaving the main runway (http://www.wlextv.com/Global/story.asp?S=5304138), which makes it possible they actually believed themselves to be on the correct runway.

farmerjumperdon
2006-Aug-29, 01:34 PM
Does LEX have ground radar for tracking taxiing planes?

Extra info is that the taxi routes where changed (http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060828/NEWS99/60828012) only a week before the accident due to repaving the main runway (http://www.wlextv.com/Global/story.asp?S=5304138), which makes it possible they actually believed themselves to be on the correct runway.

Kinda goes without saying that they thought they were on the correct runway doesn't it? I mean they wouldn't knowingly use the wrong one would they?

Especially being commercial pilots, having to be familiar with the plane, and almost certainly familiar with the airport; I don't see how this is anything other than pilot error.

Also, from the diagrams provided so far, it looks like a fairly simple layout, and from the descriptions given, it would seem the 2 runways should be easy to tell apart.

HenrikOlsen
2006-Aug-29, 02:13 PM
As for being familiar with the airport, the point was specifically that the airport, or more specifically the taxi routes, had been modified since the last time they'd been there.

The ironic part is that the modifications was as a result of repaving the main runway, something that had been done as the end of a $35 million runway safety project that began back in 2003.

Incidentally, my first link refers to the recorded conversations between tower and plane as showing nothing wrong.
I expect a not correctly confirmed runway assignment would stand out as glaringly wrong to anyone checking that recording.

jt-3d
2006-Aug-29, 10:39 PM
Looks like they forgot to check their directional gyros and magnetic compass before takeoff, didn't look for the signs, didn't notice the bigger runway they had to cross while on the takeoff roll, failed to follow taxi instructions (assuming they were given and correct) and didn't notice that the runway lights were off (according to an early report). I also assume they tried to fly before reaching flying speed. It's a shame.

Musashi
2006-Aug-29, 11:31 PM
I read that the cvr indicated they noticed the runway lights were off but did not talk to the tower about that.

jt-3d
2006-Aug-30, 12:24 AM
If that's true, I wonder how did they managed to not see the white lights marking the active runway? Assuming that that one was lighted, which it sounds like it should have been.

pghnative
2006-Aug-30, 01:20 AM
If that's true, I wonder how did they managed to not see the white lights marking the active runway? Assuming that that one was lighted, which it sounds like it should have been.Are you sure that the lights were off Runway 26 because it was inactive?

One possibility is that the pilots had so convinced themselves that they were on the right runway, that they discounted the fact that their runway had no lights on. They plausibly could have thought it was due to on-going construction. (For instance, according to this article, (http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/index.ssf?/base/news-8/1156828780271420.xml&coll=1&thispage=2) the center lights of Runway 22 had been out for several days.)

None of this shifts the blame from the pilots -- I'm just suggesting how their thought process may have worked.

In the print version of the same article, there is a map of the old taxiway versus the new taxiway. I'll do my best to describe the map using words:

On the old taxiway, the pilot would taxi past Runway 26, make a slight angle (~ 30 degrees), continue to the end of the taxiway and make a >90 degree turn (left) onto Runway 22.

On the new taxiway, when the pilot got to Runway 26, the taxiway stopped. To continue on the new taxiway, you'd need to take a 90 degree turn (left). To take off on Runway 22, you'd take a 135 degree turn (left).

Note: The following is pure speculation. I'm going to make a guess that the pilots were used to following the taxiway to the end and to then turning 90 degrees left onto the runway. With the new taxiway, when they got to Runway 26, the taxiway appeared to end (since they needed a 90 degree turn to continue) and so they thought they were on the correct runway (22).

Cylinder
2006-Aug-30, 05:36 AM
I think one contributing factor that's under investigation is the fact that the longer runway is somewhat domed. That is, the far end of the runway is somewhat obscured by terrain. It would certainly be a secondary factor and does not detract from the part the possible pilot and controller error played in the overall situation.

farmerjumperdon
2006-Aug-30, 12:51 PM
Looks like they forgot to check their directional gyros and magnetic compass before takeoff, didn't look for the signs, didn't notice the bigger runway they had to cross while on the takeoff roll, failed to follow taxi instructions (assuming they were given and correct) and didn't notice that the runway lights were off (according to an early report). I also assume they tried to fly before reaching flying speed. It's a shame.

Like so many accidents, there were multiple opportunities to break the chain of causality. It appears they made several bad decisions, any one of which, if scrutinized properly, could have broken the chain. It seems like a perfect example of forging ahead despite several clearly recognizeable "little things" that were not quite right.

Personally, I have learned not to ignore or make assumptions about even little things if the consequence of error is likely to be severe. There were several items that they had to have noticed, and checking out any one of them would have probably led to a no-go decision.

farmerjumperdon
2006-Aug-30, 01:00 PM
Curious to hear from anyone that has piloted this size plane about aborting a takeoff. Were they correct in trying to fly before they had the speed to safely do so? With a relatively flat surrounding terrain, once they recognized they did not have the runway length for proper takeoff, would they have been better off never leaving the ground and just rolling off the runway?

Seems to me it would be better to crash into some fences and trees while bleeding off speed on the ground than to hit them while falling out of the sky.

Going to chat this up with our DZ pilot this evening. The plane there is a Twin Otter, and the pilot is a master at STOL.

Captain Kidd
2006-Aug-30, 01:49 PM
I'm curious if they'll publish the findings of the 6AM pilots-eye-view they were going to do yesterday morning.

There is overshoot at the end of a runway, but isn't it primarily for not stopping quick enough on landing? (And does every airport have it?) Depending on how soon, or late, they discovered the error, they likely decided to try for takeoff. I can't see this type of plane being able to all-terrain it long enough to stop on raw ground.

Cylinder
2006-Aug-31, 10:37 AM
NTSB: Controller working on two hours sleep; Crew started wrong plane (http://edition.cnn.com/2006/US/08/30/plane.crash/)


The lone air-traffic controller on duty at the time of a jet crash Sunday morning in Lexington, Kentucky, was working on only two hours of sleep, a National Transportation Safety Board spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The controller told investigators that he had worked in the Blue Grass Airport tower from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday before reporting to work again at 11:30 p.m. Saturday, said Debbie Hersman, the NTSB member in charge of the crash investigation...

Comair Flight 5191 began its takeoff roll down the wrong runway early Sunday morning while the controller was busy with paperwork. Also, it was revealed Wednesday, the 47 passengers aboard were unaware that the flight crew had started that Sunday morning by mistakenly getting onto another plane...

Turning onto the wrong runway was not the only mistake the crew made Sunday, according to the NTSB. When they arrived at the airport at 5:15 a.m., the captain and first officer boarded the wrong plane and turned on the power before a ramp worker pointed out their mistake.

Hersman said it was the flight's captain, Jeffrey Clay, who taxied the aircraft into position at the start of the wrong runway. Clay then turned over the controls to the co-pilot, James Polehinke, who was flying the plane when it crashed. Hersman said that was standard procedure.

jt-3d
2006-Aug-31, 11:47 AM
Yeah only the captain can taxi, at least on the bigger ones. That's probably true for the RJs too. Maybe this is the reason for that besides engineering concerns. But it doesn't sound like the controller's lack of sleep had anything to do with it, at least obviously and planes of the same type look alike in the dark. The only way to tell is look at the number. Maybe somebody pointed them to the wrong one. That doesn't seem terribly important to me either. In the dark, I sometimes have difficulty telling different 737 types apart.

farmerjumperdon
2006-Aug-31, 12:46 PM
For what it's worth, got my pilot friends opinion last night. He guessed that with that plane on that runway they certainly knew they were in trouble before they even got wheels up, but by that time they were past the point of being able to safely abort and took their chances at a slower takeoff and the possibility of clearing the trees over aborting and definitely crashing.

Easy to second guess after the fact, and I have no standing to say so other than gut feeling; but I still think hitting trees while rolling (and bleeding off at least some speed) is a lower risk than a very chancy takeoff and the potential of hitting trees while also falling out of the sky.

Quite the tough call to have to make.

On the side, I wonder what this will do to Delta's plans to emerge from bankruptcy?

Larry Jacks
2006-Aug-31, 12:47 PM
The controller's lack of sleep might have contributed to him not realizing that the plane was on the wrong runway. According to an article I read last weekend, some 13 years ago an airliner tried to take off from the shorter runway but was able to abort the takeoff in time when warned by a controller.

That controller was working what we called a "double-back" shift in the Air Force. Rotating shift work is brutal (I did it for 6 years and aged at least 12) and double-back rotations are especially brutal. If you've never done it, it's hard to realize how badly it can affect your ability to function. I'm not in any way blaming the controller or trying to excuse the pilots, I'm just suggesting that the controller's fatique might've been a minor contributing factor to the chain of events.

The plane was reportedly almost at takeoff speed when it ran out of runway. According to numbers I read yesterday, a CRJ at that weight and under those environmental conditions needs a minimum of about 3550 feet to take off. Unfortunately, the runway was 3500 feet long. The lights on the short runway were inoperative (had been for some time) so all they had to go by were their landing lights. Odds are they only had a few seconds warning that they were about to run off the end of the runway. It's possible to take off below the normal minimum takeoff speed (and I'd sure try it if I saw the end of the runway rapidly approaching) but quite risky, especially if you had engine failure at that moment. A twin-engined plane's minimum single engine control speed (Vmc) is often above the minimum flying speed. Lose an engine below Vmc and you'll no longer have yaw control. Planes tend to "roll over and play dead" under those conditions.

HenrikOlsen
2006-Sep-01, 01:10 AM
If exhaustion due to a double-back shift assisted in the crash I wouldn't blame the controller, I'd blame the insane morons that allows such shifts to be worked in the first place.

pghnative
2006-Sep-01, 01:55 AM
I keep hearing different spins on what the issues were surrounding the controller.

On the one hand, the FAA apparently requires two controllers, one for ground monitoring and one for radar. But then again, they also urged the local managers to staff appropriate to the traffic level -- so if two controllers normally are assigned to handle 2+ times as much traffic, is it really a big deal that only one was assigned on a slow morning?

Other reports mention near-misses at other airports where the ground controller warned that pilot that they were on the wrong runway. The reports implied that if only that had occurred in Lexington, the crash wouldn't have happened. But other reports state that it isn't the controller's responsibility to double check the pilot.

farmerjumperdon
2006-Sep-01, 12:37 PM
If exhaustion due to a double-back shift assisted in the crash I wouldn't blame the controller, I'd blame the insane morons that allows such shifts to be worked in the first place.

I was wondering about that too, but wasn't sure Larry J meant the KY controller when he referred to "That controller . . .".

It would seem irresponsible to have people in such a position work such extended hours.

Larry Jacks
2006-Sep-01, 04:49 PM
I was referring to the controller on duty at the time. One of the best reasons to have two controllers on duty even during slow periods is to quality check each other. With two people, the odds might've been better that one of them would've noticed the plane was on the wrong runway.

Two controllers can also better handle surge conditions and equipment problems, such as what happened in Europe a few years ago that led to a mid-air collision. There were two controllers on duty that night but one of them apparently stepped out for an extended break. At the same time, maintenance techs began a process that slowed system response. Meanwhile, the sole remaining controller became busy with a plane having some difficulties and didn't notice the impending collision condition. As a footnote, a grieving father later murdered the controller on duty. Personally, I wonder what happened to the guy who took the extended break.

jt-3d
2006-Sep-02, 06:51 AM
Well gee, Larry, why not have six or 10? It's not like it's your money. Come on, you have to staff for what's normal. If there's only a few departures at that time of day, one controller is enough. You don't need some other guy up there standing around. That's how those 'extended breaks' come about. Now I suppose sombody should lock them in? More laws, more rules, eventually it will all collapse. Sometimes bad things just happen and this time it's clearly the flight crew. The rest is just woulda coulda shoulda.

P.S. Let's be clear for those of you who never work other than day shift. The controller had nine hours off. Just because it was daytime does not mean that he didn't get enough rest. You can sleep during the day, I do it every day.

Larry Jacks
2006-Sep-02, 04:31 PM
Well gee, Larry, why not have six or 10? It's not like it's your money.

Explain that to the families of the 49 dead people. I'm sure they'd be impressed by your reasoning about the cost savings of below minimum manning.

The FAA requires two contollers on duty for a reason. There's a saying in aviation, "regulations are written in blood." By that, they mean that just about every regulation is the result of an accident and the goal is to prevent recurring accidents. Seeing as how this was the first major US airline accident in almost 5 years - and during that time millions of airline flights occurred - the system seems to be working amazingly well.

Gillianren
2006-Sep-02, 06:42 PM
I'm all for two people being the minimum staffing requirement, having been the one person (not as an air traffic controller, obviously) before. You may not be doing anything, but you still need to, say, go to the bathroom. Also, having a second person there would help keep you awake; I know that was always the front-seat passenger's job on the way home from family trips to Disneyland.

Wolverine
2006-Sep-02, 08:29 PM
I heard this discussed on All Things Considered the other day.

Story link (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5744822) (with audio)


“This accident could still have happened if you had two, three or even four controllers in the tower,” says Gregory Feith, a retired investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board. “Because if each of those controllers is doing some sort of administrative-type duty and their attention isn’t necessarily focused out the window at a particular time, then – of course -- the accident would not have been prevented.”

jt-3d
2006-Sep-02, 11:54 PM
Well gee, Larry, why not have six or 10? It's not like it's your money.

Explain that to the families of the 49 dead people. I'm sure they'd be impressed by your reasoning about the cost savings of below minimum manning.

The FAA requires two contollers on duty for a reason. There's a saying in aviation, "regulations are written in blood." By that, they mean that just about every regulation is the result of an accident and the goal is to prevent recurring accidents. Seeing as how this was the first major US airline accident in almost 5 years - and during that time millions of airline flights occurred - the system seems to be working amazingly well.

Oh don't pull that bleeding heart crap on me. You want to know what I'd tell those families? I'd say that it was thier misfortune to get on a plane driven by a couple of guys who couldn't tell a dark, inactive runway from a lighted, active one.
Fear not, since the FAA always makes new rules after one of these things, and since they can't make a rule that say's do not take off from a runway that's too short and not suited for your aircraft, since that's pretty much a basic rule already, they will probably make one mandating two controllers at all times. Who knows, maybe they'll make it the controllers' job to babysit pilots too because they don't already have enough to do now. And you know what? Pilots will find another way to kill themselves and there will be still more rules and on and on.
Well it should make it easier for me to get hold of the tower now anyway because until now, here at SAT, there's been one controller for the tower and ground after 2200 too and SAT is bigger and busier than Lexington.

hhEb09'1
2006-Sep-03, 12:24 AM
Fear not, since the FAA always makes new rules after one of these things, and since they can't make a rule that say's do not take off from a runway that's too short and not suited for your aircraft, since that's pretty much a basic rule already, they will probably make one mandating two controllers at all times.But isn't that not just pretty much, but actually a rule already? That's what I heard on the news, and that's also a claim in the post you responded to.
And you know what? Pilots will find another way to kill themselvesProbably, no one is really that concerned about that. It's taking other people with them that gets people agitated.

jt-3d
2006-Sep-03, 03:21 AM
But isn't that not just pretty much, but actually a rule already? That's what I heard on the news, and that's also a claim in the post you responded to.


I'm not sure but before I believed something somebody said they heard on a news show, I'd check for myself. Since it's apparantly standard practice to run one guy in the tower at night at slow airports, I'd say it's not a regulation or there's a loophole. Besides, it's only a casual contributing factor at most. The fault clearly rests with the flight crew unless it turns out that the controller actually told them to use that runway, which I doubt. The media seems to want to shift the blame onto the controller which I think is wrong.

Donnie B.
2006-Sep-03, 02:17 PM
I'm not sure the media "want" to assign blame. I do think that they may have been surprised that a controller would be working alone, especially after a sleep-depriving shift change. I was not aware that this was normal practice, so reporters probably wouldn't either.

I also don't think it's surprising that some change to that standard practice might result, even if the controller's part was not the primary cause of the crash. That's how regulations evolve, and that process has been highly successful in reducing the risks of air travel.

sarongsong
2006-Sep-04, 09:16 AM
...I was not aware that this was normal practice, so reporters probably wouldn't either...
August 30, 2006
...The FAA acknowledged Tuesday that it should have had a second controller on duty at the time of the crash...
USA Today (http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2006-08-29-ky-crash_x.htm)ATCs are getting it from all sides:
August 28, 2006
...the FAA says it's on track to keep the consoles manned and it's doing so with a combination of efficiency and ramped-up hiring...The National Air Traffic Controllers Association says the FAA's math is a little fuzzy (or selective) and the reality is there are now almost 1,100 fewer controllers (or 7 percent) on duty today than there were three years ago....25 percent of controllers will be eligible to retire by the end of 2007...AvWeb (http://www.avweb.com/eletter/archives/avflash/704-full.html#193053)
September 2, 2006
Air traffic controllers said Friday they will be forced to work even when they're tired after the FAA imposes a new contract this [Labor Day] weekend... gainesville.com (http://www.gainesville.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060902/WIRE/209020307/1117/news)

jt-3d
2006-Sep-04, 01:22 PM
So, clearly the media is trying to influence rather than simply reporting by choosing what they report. All they have to do is focus on the tower rather than the fact that a couple of pilots got lost and blasted off on a runway they knew nothing about. I'd call that shifting blame.

I don't really think anybody will go after the controller since they don't really have a leg to stand on, but clearly the focus is on shifting some of the blame off of the flight crew. Most likely because the FAA doesn't want to admit that there are some situations that a new rule can't fix. And it does seem to be media driven or at least the FAA feeding them so that they can whip up some one rule cure-all to nip this 'problem' in the bud.

I think it still comes down to a couple of guys didn't have enough coffee before they screwed the pooch and no new rule will change that.

sarongsong
2006-Sep-04, 06:23 PM
Well, I think the media is also attempting to point out the impending ATC shortage on the horizon. The FAA imposed the latest contract on them (including a dress-code), rather than negotiating it with their union, and, given the current administration's penchant for outsourcing some 'normal' government functions, may be a harbinger for privatizing ATCs in the near future.

mugaliens
2006-Sep-04, 06:34 PM
Jt-3d, you said it. One could say it's "controller error," but the pilots are still ultimately responsible for aligning themselves on the right runway, as crosschecked on both the airport diagram published in FLIP as well as just looking at the dang compass (or BDHI) before takeoff. If it doesn't match the clearence, you query.

Cylinder
2006-Sep-04, 06:34 PM
Isn't a better practice not to make claims that cannot be challenged because of their political nature? Maybe we should focus on the investigation itself instead of hypothetical issues of a partisan political nature.

mugaliens
2006-Sep-04, 06:42 PM
Curious to hear from anyone that has piloted this size plane about aborting a takeoff.

The basic problem is one of energy management. If you rotate too early, your induced drag will exceed your available thrust, resulting in a condition whereby you can obtain flight, but are unable to maintain it. If the pilots had elected to continue off the prepared surface in a slightly nose-high attitude, assuming no runway lighting obstructed their path, it's conceivable they might have gotten past the "hump" whereby available thrust exceeded induced drag. But this takes time and distance, and is why runways for larger airplanes are long, not short. Take off on a runway too short for your configuration and load, and it doesn't matter whether you're a 747 or a 172, you're gonna fall out of the sky. The finaly responsibility always rests with the pilot.

Gillianren
2006-Sep-04, 08:35 PM
All they have to do is focus on the tower rather than the fact that a couple of pilots got lost and blasted off on a runway they knew nothing about. I'd call that shifting blame.

Oh, I'm sure there's more than enough blame to go around. While I doubt having more than one air traffic controller would have prevented the crash, it might, if the other had been more alert and could have gotten the pilot to repeat back what he apparently didn't.

Now, of course, the pilot who picked the wrong runway must ultimately harbour the blame--or responsibility, which I think is a more appropriate word in this scenario. But if a bad situation can be improved by this, isn't that equally important?

Larry Jacks
2006-Sep-05, 12:01 AM
Virtually the entire blame for the accident is on the flight crew. Perhaps they were tired, misread the taxiway markings, distracted, or just confused (one report said they got into the wrong plane that morning), but they attempted to take off on an unlit runway that was 40 degrees off of the assigned runway. They should have noticed before beginning the takeoff roll.

While I don't think the controller has any blame for the accident, he was perhaps the one with the last opportunity to warn the crew in time for them to abort. The crew probably wouldn't have attempted to abort on their own because the runway was unlit so they only had their landing lights to see. I'd guess they only saw the rapidly approaching end of the runway at most a few seconds before they ran off the end.

sarongsong
2006-Sep-07, 08:54 AM
September 5, 2006
Comair Flight 5191 co-pilot James Polehinke remained in serious condition but has been taken off life support...was at the controls of the plane when it crashed... The Courier-Journal (http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060905/NEWS01/609050413)More to come, perhaps.

Doodler
2006-Sep-12, 02:34 PM
http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/09/12/comair.crash.ap/index.html

Outdated charts, a revised taxiway...

You can play "Should've, would've, could've" with this one, but the reality is, this is looking less and less like pilot negligence as things come out.

Call me crazy, though, shouldn't there be new diagrams on file BEFORE the work is done?

Captain Kidd
2006-Sep-12, 04:19 PM
I talked with a retired pilot friend and he's thinking pilot exhaustion. Somewhere it said that they got in around 10pm. He frequently saw instances of extreme exhaustion causing all sorts of issues, one example was him falling asleep while serving as the engineer on a cross-country night freight flight. He was awakened by the copilot to do their mid-continent report and then fell back asleep. Something woke him up and he discovered the entire crew had drifted off.

The FAA regulations are very lax, nothing like the hours of service required for truckers and railroad employees. Their saving grace has mainly been the work contracts, but those have been seriously eroded.

So exhaustion coupled with a new runway layout is his thought, expecially with... crud, what's it called? The flight navigation computer display that draws your path, even on the ground. When they lined up on the wrong runway, it should have been obvious that they were not anywhere near in-line with the magenta flightpath line.

He's also cynical that that's never going to be seriously consided as one of the root causes. Everybody's going to focus on the taxiway realignment or other such issues.

Gillianren
2006-Sep-12, 08:13 PM
Call me crazy, though, shouldn't there be new diagrams on file BEFORE the work is done?

You know, the Thomas guides (big hurkin' road guides) have roads on 'em marked "in construction."

I absolutely agree they should be on file, but I worry that, in that case, somebody'd hand them to pilots too soon. (Though my understanding, however limited, is that it would cause the plane to crash before it'd built up speed, so while it might increase plane crashes, it would save lives.)

pghnative
2006-Sep-12, 08:59 PM
Call me crazy, though, shouldn't there be new diagrams on file BEFORE the work is done?
...I absolutely agree they should be on file, but I worry that, in that case, somebody'd hand them to pilots too soon.
I think you need to differentiate between temporary changes and permanent changes. Having a centralized system keeping track of every small taxiway change during a repaving project does not seem appropriate. Having local notification for a temporary change seems straightforward to me.

Of course, the devil is in the details --- is the airline culture such that these temporary changes are effectively communicated; is the pilot culture such that they expect on receiving, and insist on studying, such notifications, etc., etc....

mugaliens
2006-Sep-13, 07:00 AM
An air traffic controller has many duties. For tower controllers, part of their job as specifically stated in FAA regulations is to visually affirm an aircraft is taking the correct runway, and to cancel their takeoff clearance if they don't.

Ground cannot clear an aircraft onto an active runway. Ground passes control to tower, and tower gives that clearance. At smaller airfields, tower acts as the ground controller as well.

With only one tower controller, "administrative duties" (whatever those were) kept him from doing his job. With two controllers, at least one can focus on doing their job.

pghnative
2006-Sep-13, 09:32 PM
Are you sure that that is correct? The news reports that I've heard imply that the control tower is responsible for clearing a plane to take off from a specified runway, but is not reposible for checking that the plane is on the correct runway.