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Tue, Sep 12, 2006

Comair: Lexington Crew Had Outdated Chart

Airline Alerts Pilots To Double-Check Procedures

The pilots aboard Comair Flight 5191 had an outdated chart for Blue Grass Airport as they attempted to takeoff from the wrong runway August 27, according to an internal airline memo.

The email, sent to all Comair pilots -- and obtained by the Associated Press -- also urges pilots to use "extreme caution" while operating at the airport. 

"Exercise extreme caution during all ground operations," the e-mail from Comair chief pilot Steve Briner states. "Utilize high threat taxi procedures. If unsure of position or taxi clearance, clarify with (air traffic control)."

At issue is a recent change in taxiway procedures at the airport, that was not reflected on the chart Comair had for the airport at the time of the accident.

Airline spokesperson Kate Marx said Comair received the new chart on Friday -- and the previous chart hadn't been updated since January, before construction on the taxiway began.

As Aero-News reported, the Comair CRJ-100 ran off the end of 3,500-foot runway 26 at the Lexington, KY airport, impacted terrain and caught fire. The plane was cleared for takeoff from runway 22, which is over 7,000 feet in length.

Ongoing construction at the airport may have led the pilots of the ill-fated flight to mistake the turnoff for runway 26 as the threshold for runway 22, which is further down the taxiway in question. The sole survivor of the crash was first officer James Polehinke, who was flying the CRJ at the time of the accident.

It is not unusual for changes to be implemented in airport procedures outside the 28-day update cycle for charts issued by the FAA's National Aeronautical Charting Office.

Those charts are published through vendors hired by the airline, with a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) issued to make pilots aware of any differences from the most recent chart.

FMI: www.naco.faa.gov, www.comair.com

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