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Obtained Videos Detail Fatal Mistake In Comair 5191 Crash

WASHINGTON -- A videotape of the last seconds of Comair Flight 5191 clearly shows the jet maneuvering away from the well-lighted main runway at Lexington's Bluegrass Airport -- a runway used only moments before by two other planes, reports The Louisville Courier-Journal in its Sunday edition.

The videotape and two others, all from airport security cameras, were obtained by The C-J under the Kentucky Open Records Act.

None of the tapes shows the moment of the Aug. 27, 2006, crash that killed 49 of the 50 people aboard the Atlanta-bound plane. But the one showing the Comair jet moving toward takeoff from the wrong runway -- Runway 26, which was too short for it -- underscores the mystery behind the doomed flight, writes the newspaper.

How did two experienced pilots miss obvious clues that they were in the wrong place for a takeoff?

The National Transportation Safety Board, which ruled in July that pilot error was the cause of the crash, viewed the tapes. But the board and the airport declined to comment on the tapes for this story.

Comair spokeswoman Kate Marx told the Courier-Journal, "We actively participated in the NTSB's investigation and reviewed all the associated data to help us assess ways to enhance safety."

Pete Janhunen, spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association, told the newspaper, "The investigation is over and there are no unresolved issues from our standpoint." Doug Church, spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said members of his organization have not seen the videos so they couldn't comment on them.

But he also told the C-J the group wanted to reiterate its position that the FAA put the lone controller at the airport that day "and every flight that he handled that morning … in an unsafe and extremely difficult position by not staffing that tower to the agency's own requirements."


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