Union Wants Kentucky Plane Crash Investigation Reopened

June 10, 2008

The air traffic controllers’ union is urging a federal safety board to reopen its findings on a 2006 plane crash in Kentucky that killed 49 people and include understaffing at the airport tower as a contributing factor, a newspaper reported June 7.

In a petition filed with the National Transportation Safety Board, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association says having two controllers on duty would have presented a better chance at stopping the plane from using the wrong runway at the Lexington airport, according to The Courier-Journal of Louisville. The tower had one controller on duty at the time of the crash.

“Had there been two people there, I seriously believe the accident wouldn’t have happened,” NATCA President Patrick Forrey told the newspaper.

NTSB spokesman Terry Williams said the board would review the petition and comment afterward.

In issuing its finding on the Comair crash, the NTSB did not cite understaffing as a contributing factor to the crash. The board said “it cannot be determined if this decision contributed to the circumstances of this accident.”

Comair Flight 5191 crashed the morning of Aug. 27, 2006, after trying to take off from a runway that was too short. The plane clipped a perimeter fence and trees before crashing on a farm less than a mile from the airport, killing 49 of the 50 people on board.

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