Wednesday, September 13, 2006

More Comair Crash Madness

Fox News reports that five months prior to the recent Comair Crash in Kentucky, control tower officers sent letters to their congressmen complaining of a hostile work environment and understaffing in the tower. On the day of the crash, only one officer occupied the tower--instead of the 2 required by FAA regulations--and when he turned his back to attend to paperwork after clearing the plane for take-off, he wasn't able to see it turn on to the wrong runway. Had he witnessed the error, he might have prevented the crash.

And yesterday we learned that the pilots were using an outdated map that didn't reflect changes made to the taxiway. Lexington airport officials claim they sent memos explaining the changes to the airlines, but whether the pilots in question knew of the changes, we can't be sure. James Polehinke, the first officer who survived the crash, remains hospitalized and has issued no public statements about what happened apart from, "Why did God do this to me?"

To sum up the madness: The plane crashed not because of weather or a mechanical problem, but because the pilot (who later handed control over to the first officer) turned onto the wrong runway after having first boarded the wrong plane (the groundcrew notified the pilots, whose mistake remains unexplained). He then relied upon an incorrect map to navigate the taxiway which, incidentally, wasn't illuminated that morning as it had been in the past. His fatal error might have been caught, but the tower was understaffed and overworked--and in violation of FAA rules. This despite repeated pleas for government assistance as early as half a year before the crash. Families of victims deserve a thorough investigation and explanation of how this chaos came to be--and afterwards, the deepest of apologies from an array of individuals and institutions. All accidental deaths are needless, but none more so than these.

3 Comments:

Blogger LaKisha said...

I'll be flying soon and all this scares me a bit.

3:22 PM  
Blogger Phlip said...

Damn.

9:32 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Well, you should take heart in the fact that this appears like a perfect storm. It's rare that all these factors come together in the explosive way they did.

10:25 AM  

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