Comair Sues FAA Over Deadly Ky. Crash

Comair sued the federal government Thursday, saying the Federal Aviation Administration was negligent in having only one air traffic controller on duty when one of its commuter planes crashed last year killing 49 people.

The lawsuit says the U.S. government breached its duty to control taxiing and departing aircraft at Lexington's Blue Grass Airport.

The airplane crashed in a field just beyond the airport Aug. 27 after the pilots mistakenly turned onto a too-short, 3,500-foot runway in the dark. A week earlier, an airport repaving project changed the taxi route leading to the 7,000-foot main runway that Comair Flight 5191 should have used.

Co-pilot James Polehinke was the only survivor among the 50 people aboard.

Comair claims the FAA failed to properly staff the control tower with two air traffic controllers. Instead, only one was on duty that morning, and he had turned away from the runway before Comair Flight 5191 took off.

A previous lawsuit filed against the FAA in October claimed the agency failed in its duty to inspect and approve construction along the taxi route leading to the main runway. That suit was dismissed Tuesday.

Comair, a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines Inc., operates 850 flights to 108 cities daily. Both airlines filed for bankruptcy protection last year.

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