Thursday, July 26, 2007

NTSB: Crew to blame for Comair Flight 5191 accident

Comair logoThe National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has concluded its investigation of the Comair Flight 5191 accident. Comair Flight 5191, a CRJ-100, crashed on takeoff from Bluegrass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky early on the morning of August 27, 2006. Forty-nine passengers and two crew members were lost. The only survivor was the first officer, who was critically injured.

Regarding probable cause, the synopsis of the NTSB's report on the Comair 5191 accident, issued today, concludes:
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the flight crewmembers’ failure to use available cues and aids to identify the airplane’s location on the airport surface during taxi and their failure to cross‑check and verify that the airplane was on the correct runway before takeoff.

Contributing to the accident were the flight crew’s nonpertinent conversations during taxi, which resulted in a loss of positional awareness and the Federal Aviation Administration’s failure to require that all runway crossings be authorized only by specific air traffic control clearances. [NTSB/AAR-07/05]
In addition to ruling on probable cause for the accident, the NTSB report also issued numerous safety recommendations for the FAA to consider -- some new, some reiterated. In summary, the safety recommendations focus on the need for:
  1. improved flight deck procedures
  2. the implementation of cockpit moving map displays or cockpit runway alerting systems
  3. improved airport surface marking standards
  4. ATC policy changes in the areas of taxi and takeoff clearances and task prioritization
A press release that announced the issuance of the NTSB's report quoted the NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker, who said, "This accident was caused by poor human performance. Forty-nine lives could have been saved if the flightcrew had been concentrating on the important task of operating the airplane in a safe manner."

The NTSB synopsis issued today will be followed at a later date by the Board's final report, which will include the Board’s rationale for the conclusions, probable cause, and safety recommendations.

Related: Click here to view all posts on this blog about Comair Flt 5191.