Update on NTSB Investigation into the Crash of Comair Flight 5191

This release contains factual information developed during the NTSB's investigation.


On August 27, 2006, about 6:07 a.m., Comair flight 5191, a Bombardier CRJ-100, (N431CA) crashed upon takeoff from Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky. Of the 47 passengers and 3 crewmembers onboard, 49 were fatally injured and one (the first officer) survived in critical condition. The following is an update of factual information developed during the Safety Board's investigation.

Washington, DC -- The Safety Board has completed the on-scene portion of the investigation. All of the investigative groups will be completing factual reports, which will be released to the public when the public docket is opened in the next several months.

Accident Sequence

Flight 5191, from Lexington, Kentucky to Atlanta, Georgia, was the third of three airplanes scheduled to take off in the early morning. The previous two departures took off without incident from runway 22. Flight 5191 was also cleared to taxi to runway 22 and subsequently cleared for takeoff; however, the airplane attempted to take off from runway 26. According to recorded information, the aircraft began its takeoff roll, accelerated to a maximum of about 137 knots, ran off the end of the runway through the airport perimeter fence, and impacted trees on an adjacent horse farm. The entire sequence took about 36 seconds. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a post-crash fire.

Aircraft Wreckage

Witness marks on scene indicate that all three landing gear were on the ground as the airplane exited the runway. The main wreckage was located approximately 1,800 feet from the end of the runway. Both engines were examined at the accident site and no evidence of pre-impact failure was noted and the thrust reversers were stowed. The flaps were found in the takeoff position and no problems were noted with any other airplane system or structure. The wreckage from flight 5191 has been moved to a storage facility in Georgia.

Recorders

The flight data recorder (FDR) and the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) were recovered immediately and have provided valuable information. Investigators are continuing to extract data from the flight recorders, the air traffic control tape recordings and airport video surveillance cameras. FDR data indicate that the airplane stopped near the end of runway 26 for about 45 seconds before the flight was cleared for takeoff. The airplane was cleared for takeoff and 6 seconds later started to taxi onto runway 26.

It took about 36 seconds for the airplane to taxi onto runway 26 and complete the turn before power was increased to initiate the takeoff. FDR vertical accelerometer data indicate that the airplane departed the end of the runway about 32 seconds after the takeoff was initiated. The FDR recording ended about 4 seconds later. Time correlation of those data continues.

Operations/Human Performance

Operations/Human Performance group has completed initial follow-up interviews at Comair headquarters in Covington, KY. The group conducted airport observations under day and night conditions; a simulator observation of Comair taxi and takeoff procedures; and interviews with multiple persons including: ramp personnel, flight instructors, check airmen, and several pilots who had flown with the accident flight crew. These interviews provided investigators with information about procedures and techniques used by pilots for taxi and takeoff runway identification and information about the accident flightcrew.

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