Comair Flight 5191 Explodes in Kentucky Killing 49 - Sole Survivor Co-Pilot in Critical Condition

Comair Flight 5191 Explodes in Kentucky Killing 49 - Sole Survivor Co-Pilot in Critical Condition

A Comair Commuter jet crashed on takeoff early Sunday and burst into flames at the Blue Grass Airport in Kentucky. The sole survivor, a co-pilot is in critical condition, according to federal investigators. The early reports that the plane was on the wrong runway appear to be the reason for the disaster.

There were 49 people killed when the plane ran off the end of the runway leaving marks in the dirt. In a report from Reuters, NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) investigator Debbie Hersman says there were "ground scars" at the end of the shorter runway, a smashed perimeter fence and debris from the jet spread out over hundreds of feet (meters) indicated the plane's trajectory was from the shorter runway.

Hersmann said "We will be looking into performance data, we will be looking at the weight of the aircraft, we will be looking at speeds, we will pull at that information off and we will be looking at all that." She says the data from the “black-box” and communications between the pilot and air traffic controllers are being analyzed.

Representatives from Comair say the plane has been maintained and there were no problems with the plane. There was no indication of terrorism and the two previous planes used the longer runway without incident, an aviation source said.

The Comair flight 5191 was one of a dozen early morning takeoffs scheduled at the Lexington airport. Early reports say that the plane was cleared for the longer of the two runways.

Witnesses say the plan exploded into flames, which probably caused most of the deaths. Three police officers were able to pull first officer (co-pilot) from the wreckage.

Comair began operations in 1977 as a small commuter airline and began a partnership with Delta Airlines in 1984. Delta later bought the airline in 2000 and then declared bankruptcy in 2005.

By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

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