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Comair Flight Crashes After Departing Lexington, Kentucky

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From what I saw on the news, the CRJ seems to have departed from the wrong runway at KLEX, because the crash site is just beyond runway 26, which was closed at the time and with 3500ft too short for the CRJ to take-off. Just judging from the location of the crash site, there is no way that the plane could have departed from runway 22.The METAR at the time of the crash at LEX was:KLEX 270954Z 20007KT 8SM FEW090 SCT120 24/19 A3000 RMK AO2 SLP147 T02390194Some reports say that windshear might have been a possibility, but it is kind of more obvious that the pilot could not establish a positive climb and possibly stalled due to the too short runway and consecutively crashed shortly after take-off.How this could have happened is beyond me, because the reports say that runway 26 was not lighted, while runways 22 was. Looks like a serious mistake by the pilot.Pat

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Guys, let's not speculate, okay? People lost their lives today and loved ones are mourning. Let's let the NTSB do its job, and keep the speculation out of this.

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My heart goes out to the families of this crash and for the FO that he recovers to help give some answers so that this never happens again.Best,Randy J. Smith

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No speculation anymore - NTSB just confirmed the plane took off from the wrong runway. Unbelievable, this is really unprecedented.

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>No speculation anymore - NTSB just confirmed the plane took>off from the wrong runway. Unbelievable, this is really>unprecedented.Then it goes to show, that anyone believing in GPS technology as only "backup" to paper charts is full of it!With today's technology and glass panel systems, an airport diagram with the aircraft's exact position with relation to taxiways/runways can pop up of the MFD. It then becomes a no-brainer in pre-dawn darkness, total darkness, etc.I do realize that all aircraft certainly do not yet contain these systems even though it's available even with handhelds. Yet, when ever I see someone acting as though a GPS is some kind of a "fancy toy", I get un-believably "irked"!I've been following "pilot dissorented" accidents for years, which include flight into rising terrain, selection of wrong runways, etc; and after 13 years of using moving map GPS's along with some introduction to the new Garmin 1000 and Avidye Entegra systems; I know that this technology can certainly make a difference!L.Adamson

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Short pilot downtime may be involved..Dick near 5G8

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>Short pilot downtime may be involved..>>Dick near 5G8>no according to some comair folks i know, the bid packet showed a 28hr layover.sadly an air tran fo was j/s and also lost his life. a true accident.evidently a lot of construction was done on 4/22 last week and some of the taxiways were closed. it was dark, rain was in the area, and perhaps they had a "wheels up" time to meet. all no excuses, but factors going into the accident chain.god bless all who lost their lives.

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L.Adamson,Yeah very good points. I don't get it though, the CRJ does in fact display the runway on its ND along with an extended centerline. Plus you've got the 40 degree heading mismatch with what they would have had dialed into the AP window, etc... Check out the airport in FS or Google Earth - that runway is freaking tiny! It looks wrong to me just on sight picture alone. 3 pilots in the cockpit and no one notices this stuff? Sorta seems to me that all the technology in the world short of a voice yelling "You're on the wrong runway!" wouldn't have helped here. I wonder if this will lead to modifications so the takeoff config horn will go off if there's a mismatch between actual heading and what's in the AP HDG window?The investigation is gonna be real interesting on this one folks...

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Unfortunately taking off or landing on the wrong runway and to some extremes the wrong airport happens quite often. I know there were at least 10 so far this year at a small towered airport I operate out of often. I don't see this crash changing how we operate in the airport environment. It was an oversight by the pilots missing many warning signs and the most basic pre-takeoff checklist the 'WHATTSL' check.

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I am just stunned that both pilots didn't catch the error and it really seems that it was a multitude of human errors that lead to this (apparently unnecessary) disaster.- The runway 26 was not lit, according to the Notams. This would have been the easiest to spot.- Runway 26 is just about half as wide as 22 (75'/150')- The MFD display should have indicated an incorrect flight plan display. A deviation of 40 degrees is really easy to spot.- Ground and tower did not visually verify the aircrafts positionHowever, the standard checklists do not take an incorrect runways into account. If the "Before Takeoff Checklist" would have included a final verification for a visual check of the MFD and autopilot heading, then this might not have happened. Usually the correct settings for the autopilot/LNAV heading are cross-checked before taxiing, not before takeoff.Pat

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I'm not familiar with the CRJ's display. But I'd think, that with a center MFD such as the new Cessna Mustang's 15" display; showing a complete Jeppeson airport map, while displaying the aircraft's position; that it would hopefully do the job.L.Adamson

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>Unfortunately taking off or landing on the wrong runway and>to some extremes the wrong airport happens quite often. indeed it does, the most significant example was the Singapore Airlines 744 at Taipei :(

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>I am just stunned that both pilots didn't catch the error and>it really seems that it was a multitude of human errors that>lead to this (apparently unnecessary) disaster.you can say this same statement about most accidents.>- The runway 26 was not lit, according to the Notams. This>would have been the easiest to spot.>- Runway 26 is just about half as wide as 22 (75'/150')you just explained why they did not notice this difference. also the lights on the CRJ are very POOR in terms of forward visibility.>- The MFD display should have indicated an incorrect flight>plan display. A deviation of 40 degrees is really easy to>spot.not necessarily. perhaps a turn to a heading of 260 on takeoff is a standard ATC procedure at the airport and this crew, knowing this, bugged 260 at the gate (I do this all the time at ORD). something as innocent as this can help add to their confusion.>- Ground and tower did not visually verify the aircrafts>positionFrankly, in a perfect world it is doable, but in reality this isn't going to happen all the time. Especially when there is one aircraft out there at twilight where you clear them for takeoff probably on a taxiout way before the runway.>However, the standard checklists do not take an incorrect>runways into account. If the "Before Takeoff Checklist" would>have included a final verification for a visual check of the>MFD and autopilot heading, then this might not have happened.>Usually the correct settings for the autopilot/LNAV heading>are cross-checked before taxiing, not before takeoff.Common sense dictates that this should be part of it. Our final "before takeoff checklist scan" which is the ACTION of doing the checklist before the reading of it has us checking it holding short and on the runway. I also after saying "before takeoff checklist complete" also add verbage like "turn right to 2-6-0 up to 5,000, cleared for takeoff".What some of you do not know is the CRJ has a very annoying nuisance message that pops up when the headings disagree by a certain amount (6 or 8 degrees I cannot remember). EFIS COMP MON happens all the time taxiing out because of the wing flux capacitors (they are called that), which measure the magnetic variation of the spot we are at to automatically adjust our headings, do not like metal below them. With all the fuel storage tanks, etc. on an airport underground this happens usually on every taxi out. Sometimes it happens on the rollout and it is NOT an abort item, a simple "we'll deal with it in the air" situation. This may have happened here.Also the CRJ is annoying in the fact that if it adjusts BOTH headings to a wrong one, it JUSTIFIES this by adding winds that aren't there. I never heard of this until a chicago approach controller asked us our heading once (we were showing 040 and he showed us on a 020 track). He then asked us for our winds at 8000' and it showed 50kt winds. He then asked a united 737 at our altitude the winds and he answered they were 8kts. The controller then commented the CRJ does this "all the time" (his words). This could have happened on the ground to this crew.

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I just tried taxing and taking off this exact same runway in FS2k4 with the FeelThere CRJ. I can see how the pilot made this simple mistake but on the flip side I don't understand how the pilot didn't notice runway 22 lite up like a Christmas Tree right in front of him (once lined up for takeoff of course). You really can see the long length of runway 22's lights stretching way off to your left (what was reported for visibility yesterday???). When sitting on runway 26 it's not that small of a runway width wise in the CRJ but at 6am no lights on the runway (Centerline, etc) should have been obvious. I also fault the tower for clearing this flight for takeoff.Anyway I powered up and tried to take off only to find it was a no go until slightly past the end of the runway. I hit trees at the end of the runway but in true FS9 fashion I was able to eventually climb out...This was truly a very sad and senseless event...

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Lexington's airport director says a repaving project a week before the fatal Comair crash altered the taxi route commercial planes take to get to the main runway, This was just put up on CNN - if anyone hears the taxi route the aircraft was given - I'd personally be interested in it.

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> I also fault the tower for clearing this flight for takeoff.With no ground traffic, no landing traffic, and air traffic already departed, the tower simply cleared the pilot to taxi to 22 and takeoff - a straight-shot clearance par for the course at quiet airfields. I believe the tower recordings indicate this was the case - as opposed to a taxi into position and hold, which would have required another call for the actual takeoff clearence. Since tower's job is mainly to keep airplanes from hitting each other, after clearing the CRJ for takeoff, the controller probably turned his attention to his radar in the terminal area, or calling approach control, having confidence that the pilot in the airplane below him can find his way to the appropriate runway and takeoff as they have done so many times before. That the pilot didn't use the proper runway and wasn't able to clear the trees doesn't rest on the controllers shoulders in any amount. In a preventable incident such as this, I don't think anything can excuse the error. There will be factors that contribute to it, such as pilot fatague, but to me nothing can actually excuse it. In all senses of the term, it was a tragic mistake by the pilots which will hopefully be used from this point forward in training as an example of the importance of situational awareness and pilot readiness. =--------------------------------------------------------------------=As far as the 75' vs. 150' width, the 75' width is simply the usable space designated as the runway 26. The actual concrete does extend the same width as the longer runway, 150'. (validated w/ google earth)=--------------------------------------------------------------------=May those lost in the crash rest peacefully, and may the survivor receive a full recovery and also find peace in his day, as I am sure that this incident will be a lifetime burden for him to carry.

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I belive that the general speculation in this thread is becoming pointless.NSTB will investigate this tragic accident properly, and if it concludes human error was responsible it will look much deeper into what led to this human error. Human error is no longer a simple and acceptable answer.None of here know the details of communications between the aircrew and ATC, or of any other factors that may have affected the outcome.I think a respectful silence is more appropriate.

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This has nothing to do with the tragic loss of lives here. I am sure that everyone in here feels for the families who lost their loved ones here. It has absolutely nothing to do with being insensitive.This is a board for aviation enthousiasts and we're merely following the events and, yes, like the media we speculate about potential technical causes and human errors that lead to this accident. Much of the speculation in here has been proven quite accurate, even before the media has picked up on it.Pat

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As a 15 year tower controller, I expect tower will take some of the blame in the final NTSB report. From the FAAH 7110.65 Air Traffic Control:http://www.faa.gov/atpubs/atc/Chp3/atc0301.html#3-1-73-1-7. POSITION DETERMINATION Determine the position of an aircraft before issuing taxi instructions or takeoff clearance. NOTE-The aircraft's position may be determined visually by the controller, by pilots, or through the use of the ASDE. Note the note. The towers reposibility is to validate the pilots are where they say they are, either with eyeball or ASDE. NEVER are they to accept the pilots word that they are "at the runway".This is not a new rule, but it is one that came about after a similar incidentbt

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>Unfortunately taking off or landing on the wrong runway and>to some extremes the wrong airport happens quite often. Yes, I recall a few years ago, a commercial flight landed at Ellsworth Air Force base rather than Rapid City Regional Airport (KRAP).I don't recall all of the details but the two airports are fairly close together and similar in runway configuration...RhettAMD 3700+ powered by Gerbil wheel + gerbil, eVGA 7800GT 256, ASUS A8N-E, PC Power 510 SLI, 2 gigs Corsair TWINX, blah blah, etc. etc.

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Well that's the first I've heard of that one - thanks! I thought the tower folks were a little more concerned with the relative locations of different airplanes, rather than keeping full tabs on all airport craft... especially on a slow Sunday morning. BT, does that rule apply to each stage of a departure? eg: If the tower cleared the airplane to the runway AND cleared them for takeoff in one swoop, does that violate the rule? The airplane in question was taxiing towards the runway 22/26 endpoints - is it fair to say that the tower did validate that the plane was heading to the proper location for takeoff? (Basically, is it kosher for the tower to clear the plane for takeoff well before they made it to either runway end?)-Greg

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I am sure some of us tried this takeoff using the Wilco CRJ. At 50,000 lbs you just can't get up to 135 kts in 3500 ft. I suffered the same fate. One thing I hate about the CRJ's is they never show the runway on the moving map display as the Boeings do. This would have been a sure sign they were on the wrong runway.What a shame this happened.

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Hi Greg...to answer your question on the "kosherness" of it all, that is where it gets gray.Could tower say, they observed the AC taxing to the active, and using "anticipated separation", they could clear the A/C for takeoff before it ever got to the Rwy? http://www.faa.gov/atpubs/ATC/Chp3/atc0309.html#3-9-53-9-5. ANTICIPATING SEPARATION Takeoff clearance needs not be withheld until prescribed separation exists if there is a reasonable assurance it will exist when the aircraft starts takeoff roll.This would be a slippery slope though, and the tower would have to be able to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the tower believed the departure to be at the correct location/rwy. Tower tapes will be helpful here, as will ASDE tapes and TRACON's tapes if they have it.From my viewpoint, 6:00am on a Sunday morning, controller error probably was a factor. There was probably no other traffic to note, and the Sunday morning boredom is always a risk. I belive it has been reported that there was only one controller on duty at the time, which increases the risk of distraction and error. When you think about it, based upon the fact these were regional carriers at a small, simple airport, of course the pilot knew where the rwy was, reports even said the pilot stated he was using the "longer" rwy, except this time, he did not...and that is frequently the kind of chain of events at play in these obvious tragedies of human error.Also, remember at the end of the day, the POC is ultimately responsible for safety. Chances are the case will be made that ATC had a role, but the Pilot in Command is the individual who orders the throttles opened, and guides the A/C upwardsBelow is another link to the topic of Ground Movement. Perhaps it will shed some light on the complexities of ground movement of A/Chttp://www.faa.gov/atpubs/ATC/Chp3/atc0307.htmlCheers,bt

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