Bombardier CRJ100, Lexington, Ky., Aug. 27, 2006–The NTSB determined the probable cause of the Comair CRJ crash at Blue Grass Airport that killed 49 people to be “the flight crewmembers’ failure to use available cues and aids to identify the airplane’s location during taxi and their failure to cross-check and verify that the airplane was on the correct runway before takeoff.” The flight crew’s nonpertinent conversation during taxi contributed to the accident, said the NTSB, resulting in a loss of positional awareness. The Safety Board also cited the FAA’s failure to require that all runway crossings be authorized only by specific ATC clearances. The final report did not mention that Runway 26, the wrong runway, which the crew used for takeoff, was only 3,500 feet long and Runway 22, the assigned runway, was 7,003 feet long.
On the crew’s arrival at the airport at 5:15 a.m., they boarded the wrong airplane and started its auxiliary power unit (APU), although they were reported to be otherwise alert. A Comair ramp agent performing the security check of the accident airplane noticed the mistake. When advised of the error, the crew shut down the APU and went to the correct airplane.
The sole controller on duty told the crew to taxi to Runway 22, and the crew, while performing checklists, mentioned Runway 22 several times. The taxi instructions implicitly included permission to cross Runway 26, which the airplane would have reached first. Because of construction at the airport, the taxiway identifiers on the airport chart were inaccurate, said the NTSB, and the pilots did not receive the notam about the closure of Taxiway A. Before the CRJ took off, two other aircraft, a SkyWest flight and an American Eagle flight, departed Runway 22. The controller, as well as the pilots, failed to notice that the jet was lined up on Runway 26.
On takeoff, the airplane ran off the end of the runway and hit the airport perimeter fence, trees and the ground and was destroyed by fire.