When Pilots Talk too Much, and Air Traffic Controllers Are Tired

Posted by on Apr 10, 2015 in Automobile Accidents | 0 comments

An unfortunate combination of factors led to the death of 47 passengers and two crewmembers of Comair Flight 5191 on August 27, 2006. A majority of the passengers were from Kentucky, including a newly married couple on their honeymoon. The only survivor was the first officer, which investigators identified as the one who was actually piloting the aircraft at the time of the accident. He sustained serious injuries in the crash and has no memory of what transpired. He is now a paraplegic.

Initial investigators placed the cause of the accident as pilot error. The air controller of the Blue Grass Airport assigned Runway 22 to the Comair aircraft for takeoff. However, the pilot mistakenly steered the aircraft to the secondary, unlit Runway 26, which is too short for a safe takeoff. The air controller had not noticed the error, having turned away from the controls after giving the pilot the green light. Comair Flight 5191 taxied down the wrong runway with the first officer at the wheel and crashed on a low brick wall and into a dense copse of trees.

This particular mistake of mixing up Runway 22 and 26 happened again in 2007. However, this time the air controller was able to cancel the takeoff before anything happened. This suggests that there is some confusion over identifying the runways.

The families of the passengers sued Comair, Delta Air Lines which wholly owned it, the pilots, and the Blue Grass Airport Authority, and the Federal Aviation Authority. Most of the plaintiffs settled out of court.

This accident is an example of how chance plays a big part in negligent accidents. The pilots violated Sterile Cockpit Rules by engaging in small talk during a takeoff, the air traffic controller was alone on that shift which is against the rules, and the airport was under construction at the time. However, the website of the Sampson Law Firm personal injury lawyers points out that chance would not have much of a foothold if each negligent party did their part in observing reasonable care in doing their jobs.

If you sustained serious injury in a negligent airplane accident, you should not take a chance either. Consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer in your state to discuss your legal options.

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