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Mon, Sep 25, 2006

Was Lexington ATIS, NOTAM Too Vague?

Info Correct, But Failed To Provide Taxi Instructions

The ATIS (Automatic Terminal Information Service) recording that the crew of ill-fated Comair Flight 5191 heard the morning of August 27 may not have been detailed enough to ensure they taxied to the correct runway.

According to FAA transcripts received by the Louisville Courier-Journal, the published NOTAMS the crew had access to were accurate, but did not explicitly direct pilots how to get to the correct runway with part of the taxiway closed. The hourly ATIS that they monitored was evidently even less clear regarding taxi instructions.

As Aero-News reported, the crew was using an outdated chart when they were cleared for Runway 22, and departed instead from the much shorter Runway 26. The aircraft crashed on takeoff.

The NOTAM on the day of the crash says: "TWY A CLSD N OF 8/26".

The pilots would have understood that to mean "Taxiway A closed north of Runway 8/26." In other words, the part of the taxiway to get to Runway 22 beyond 26 was closed.

The new NOTAM issued after the crash tells pilots exactly where to taxi. It reads "LEX TWY A7 CLOSED (UNDER CONSTRUCTION) USE TMPRY TWY A NRTH OF 8/26 FOR ACCESS TO AER 22." This identifies the specific part of Taxiway A that is closed and directs pilots to use a temporary taxiway to get to Runway 22.

It is safe to assume the Blue Grass ATIS is now equally explicit regarding taxi instructions.

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said it would be up to the National Transportation Safety Board to determine whether or not the NOTAMs and the ATIS provided the pilots with sufficient information on runways and taxiways, according to the Courier.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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