Sole survivor of jet crash sues designer of runway

LEXINGTON, Ky. — A co-pilot who was the lone survivor of a plane crash in Lexington that killed 49 people has sued the company that designed the runway and taxiway lights at Blue Grass Airport.

James Polehinke filed suit against AVCON Inc. on Aug. 24, nearly a year after the crash. The lawsuit says AVCON Inc., a Florida corporation, is responsible for the design of the wiring and lighting systems at the airport.

The Comair jet crashed in the pre-dawn darkness on Aug. 27, 2006 shortly after taking off from the wrong runway — an unlit general aviation strip too short for commercial flights.

Polehinke suffered severe injuries in the crash.

According to Polehinke's suit, the company failed to use appropriate care in designing the lighting for the runways and taxiways and failed to ensure proper testing, sampling and quality control.

Immediately preceding the day of the accident, the lighting "for the runways and taxiways had been so erratic, haphazard and/or improper that many commercial pilots, including the pilots of Flight 5191, could not rely on or expect the lighting for the runways and taxiways to comply with applicable laws, rules, regulations procedures and orders," the suit says.

Airport officials and federal investigators have said that the main runway's edge lights were working on the morning of the crash, although the center lights remained out.

The National Transportation Safety Board determined last month that the pilots' failure to notice clues that they were heading to the wrong runway was the primary cause of the crash.