The day after the Kentucky plane crash that killed 49 people, high-ranking officials with the Federal Aviation Administration suggested the Lexington air traffic manager was a "renegade." They also speculated in recent e-mails that the tower manager would be fired for only having one controller on duty at the time.
The e-mails were obtained today by The Associated Press. In the
e-mails, the F-A-A's Eastern and Western terminal services directors discussed the decision by Blue Grass Airport tower manager Duff Ortman to staff the overnight shift with only one controller. That decision was made despite an F-A-A directive that there should be two controllers on duty.
Eastern director John McCartney wrote to his West and Central
colleagues that he was trying to verify there were -- in his words
-- "no other renegades left and not staffing" the overnight shift properly.
Western terminal director John Clancy responded that Ortman "will probably be removed as manager of the facility."
Ortman and F-A-A spokeswoman Laura Brown didn't immediately
return calls seeking comment today.
After mistakenly turning onto a runway that was too short, Comair Flight 5191 struggled to get airborne and crashed. Investigators said the plane made the wrong turn after the lone controller on duty turned his back to do some paperwork. The co-pilot was the sole survivor.