Alex Constantine - September 25, 2006
Media aviation "experts" have sought to explain the August 27 crash and laid responsibility for it on "pilot error," disregarding the fact that the pilots had the wrong map, the FAA violated it's own rules, but the information attached raises significant questions that remain unexplained:
- Air traffic control and the Comair pilots were agreed that the plane would taxi off on runway 22. They discussed it.
- There were markers directing them to runway 22.
- Runway 22 was lit. Runway 26 was not lit, and hadn't been since October 2001.
- The pilots passed up the lit runway clearly marked 22 - and took the wrong runway.
- They were using a digital compass that displayed the wrong heading clearly.
- Incidentally, FAA information on airport lighting at runway 26 has been ALTERED SINCE THE CRASH. FAA information in hard copy reports that the runway lighting is operational. Why was this data altered?
A blogger noticed the altering of airport information: "All runway lighting can be activated from the cockpit." (see below) "That is just standard operation at airports. If they can't, then the lighting is broken or out of operation, and that information needs to be made available. I didn't notice any information about it online until 24 hours after the crash, when they started changing it at sites with aviation airport info. It is not noted in the FAA-issued Airport Facility Directory just recently published.""
This means that the FAA report that the pilots had in their possession, with the information on runway 26 lighting published BEFORE THE ALTERATIONS, said that the lights WERE operational. They could have turned them on from the cockpit.
Coincidentally, lighting is out at the airport at the moment. Look at the current news stories on it, and you will find that this is a major issue at the airport - warnings ARE given to pilots. Unlit runways are not taken lightly by pilots for obvious reasons.
Another blogger asks: "HOW THE HELL DID TWO EXPERIENCED PILOT, IGNORE A DIGITAL COMPASS READING SHOWING 220 (OR 260) RAM A PASSENGER JET WITH 50 PEOPLE ONBOARD DOWN AN UNLIT RUNWAY IN THE DARK ...
... they have the latest in electronic primary flight displays, including a virtual DG which indicates their direction. There is no error to be made-the direction is displayed in digital format....
No runway lights or runway end identifier lights, and they stare off into blackness and mumble about no lights, again as if in a trance, seconds before the death. What was that book? The Trance-Formation of America?
Doomed Ky. plane cleared for proper runway - NTSB
By Steve Robrahn
August 29, 2000
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Reuters) - No explanation was offered by investigators on Monday why pilots of a commuter jet turned onto the wrong runway before crashing and killing all but one of the 50 people aboard.
"The planning discussions with air traffic controllers and the flight crew were about a takeoff from runway 22," a 2.1 km runway suited for jets at Lexington's Blue Grass Airport, National Transportation Safety Board member Debbie Hersman said.
... There also were clues for the pilot: Signs marking the right way. Less lighting. And severely cracked concrete not the type of surface typically found on runways for commercial routes.
THE MAIN RUNWAY AT BLUE GRASS AIRPORT WAS LIT
The main runway at Lexington would have been long enough for the Comair flight - Runway 4/22, which is 7,003 feet long and LIT, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The shorter runway, Runway 8/26, is 3,500 feet long and UNLIT.
A witness to the accident, a ramp employee of another airline, told investigators the 3,500-foot (1-km) Runway 26 used by the jet was dark, while the lights were lit alongside the 7,000-foot-long (2-km) intersecting Runway 22 used by commercial air traffic at Lexington's Blue Grass Airport.
"This individual witnessed the taxi, the takeoff roll, and the accident. He told our investigators that Runway 26 was not lit and that Runway 22 and the taxiways were lit," National Transportation Safety Board investigator Debbie Hersman told a news briefing.
PILOT CAN ACTIVATE THE LIGHTS
Apparently the lights must have actually been turned off completely, because they can always be activated by the pilot by simply tuning his radio to the CTAF frequency and clicking his transmit button 7 times within 5 seconds, which the pilots would of course know. This would explain why they did not realize they had reached the end of the runway and maintained full throttle, as they did not see the runway end identifier lights, which are strobing bright white lights letting you know you had better be off the ground before you reach them. As I have heard, this plane left the runway at full throttle
... NTSB investigators spent several hours Monday night and early Tuesday taxiing a Comair CRJ-100 around the airport to determine what might have prompted the pilots to turn onto the darkened, closed runway. The longer runway was LIT and only a short distance away, Hersman said.
I added a point about the main LIGHTED runway, another GIGANTIC clue that the pilots missed. About 1,000 feet after takeoff roll, the pilots crossed an active, lighted runway, which they APPARENTLY DIDN’T NOTICE. IMO, the fact that they crossed a MAIN runway on an airport that only had ONE main runway, should have been a clue. So here’s where we stand on the pilots:
- Went to the wrong plane (or, went to the CORRECT plane, which had been changed).
- Decided to takeoff on an unlit runway in the dark with an aircraft full of passengers.
- Didn’t check their compass headings.
- Didn’t NOTICE that they crossed an active, lighted runway 1,000 feet after commencement of takeoff roll.
- Commented that the short runway lights were out AFTER commencement of takeoff roll.
GET IT BEFORE IT DISAPPEARS, COVER-UP IS ALREADY TAKING PLACE
If anyone is interested in disappearing facts associated with this incident, I recommend that you look for official comments about the CVR (Cockpit Voice Recorder).
The CVR cover-up is already underway. The NTSB may have dug themselves in a hole.
In an early Monday morning CNN article, the NTSB spokeschick, Debbie Hersman, was quoted as saying that BOTH pilots mentioned the runway lights being out on the takeoff roll. I will search for a link to that specific article.
On Monday EVENING, Hersman gave a briefing which is still viewable at CNN. The clip is 8:23 long, and at the end, Hersman gives CVR bullets, and NONE of the bullets mention the pilots’ “runway lights” comments. In Hersman’s CNN clip, she also states that she hoped for a CVR update briefing on Monday evening (3 days ago). I predict that we will not hear a CVR update briefing.
- Select “NTSB Investigation Underway (8:23)”
User ID: 137827
8/31/2006 5:55 AM
I like the airport runway information pasted above. Be aware they changed the lighting in
formation 24 hours after the crash occurred. It did list 8-26 as having MIRL(medium intensity runway lighting) and REIL, but they altered the info. I have a current FAA-issued Airport Facility Directory, which cannot be altered, and 8-26 is indicated to have MIRL and REIL. This AFD was just printed.
[link to www.airnav.com]
Dimensions: 3500 x 75 ft. / 1067 x 23 m
Surface: asphalt/concrete, in poor condition
CONC IS SEVERELY CRACKED.
Weight bearing capacity: Single wheel: 12500 lbs
Runway edge lights: medium intensity
MIRL RY 08/26 OTS INDEFLY.
RUNWAY 8 RUNWAY 26
Open to the public
LOUISVILLE FLIGHT SERVICE STATION [1-866-412-7968]
LEX (NOTAM-D service available)
white-green (lighted land airport)
Fire and rescue:
ARFF index B
customs landing rights airport
US CUSTOMS USER FEE ARPT.