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Fri, Feb 23, 2007

Comair Sues FAA For Negligence In Comair 5191 Accident

Earlier Lawsuit Dismissed By Court

On Thursday, Comair officially sued the Federal Aviation Administration for negligence in the August 27 takeoff crash of a CRJ100 from Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, KY.

The Lexington Herald-Leader states Comair claims the FAA should have had two controllers in the tower when the plane attempted takeoff from the shorter of two runways at the airport. The lone controller on duty at the time of the accident had turned away to perform administrative tasks, and did not see the commuter jet take the incorrect runway. Comair also notes that controller had only two hours of sleep since his previous shift.

As Aero-News reported, 49 of the 50 persons onboard the CRJ died in the resulting crash. An initial investigation showed the plane may have briefly become airborne in the final seconds before the plane left the runway, but was not able to clear terrain. The airliner impacted a field off the departure end of runway 26.

That runway is half the length of the 7,000-foot runway 22, the runway 5191 had been cleared to depart from.

In related news, the US District Court in Lexington denied a claim filed by Comair last October, seeking damages from the FAA. It that lawsuit, Comair claimed the agency should repay the airline $18 million for the loss of the CRJ, as well as for lawsuits filed against the airline in the crash.

Comair is appealing that decision, as well as a second dismissal related to an earlier lawsuit claiming the FAA did not properly inspect and approve construction along the main taxiway at Blue Grass Airport.

Comair had claimed construction along the taxiway -- which leads to both the accident runway, and the longer, correct runway -- may have contributed to confusion in the cockpit of Comair 5191, and directed the pilots to the wrong runway.



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