Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Comair Flight 5191 aftermath

The tragic accident that happened on Sunday, August 27, in Lexington took the lives of 49 souls on board Comair Flight 5191. Our hearts go out to the families and colleagues of all who were aboard that flight, and we extend our sympathy to the entire Comair family.

We send well wishes to F/O James Polehinke, the lone survivor of Comair Flight 5191, and hope that he will recover fully from his injuries.

Like most people in the country -- and especially those in the aviation community -- we were glued to the television most of the day on Sunday, and also spent quite a bit of time visiting various aviation message boards trying to learn who was aboard the flight, and what might have happened to cause the accident.

By now it seems clear that the aircraft did indeed attempt to take off from the wrong runway. What is less clear, so far, is what chain of events combined to result in the ultimate error. It is tempting to speculate, but we will refrain from doing that. We hope that the NTSB will be able to piece together all of the varied bits of evidence that they collect to determine the reasons for the accident.

The NTSB findings for this accident, and for all others, will not be able to undo the damage, nor restore the lives that were lost. The best that can be hoped for is that a better understanding will emerge that may lead to changes in procedures -- on the flight deck, at airports, at ATC towers -- that will serve to prevent similar accidents in the future.

A blog post written by Ralph Hood, a columnist for Airport Business, recounts several prior accidents that resulted in new safety procedures or regulations. He says:
Accident investigation is something we do well in this country. The truth will out, changes will be made, and airline travel -- already the safest means of transportation in the history of the world -- will become even safer.
That may be true, but it is little comfort to the families and colleagues of those who perished in the aircraft accidents that demonstrated the need for changes.

We cannot count how many times we have heard pilots say that "the FARs are written in pilots' blood." Yes. And in the blood of cabin crew and passengers as well.

Source: Black Sunday - Airport Business

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