The labor crisis at Comair appeared headed for a climax late last month as the Cincinnati-based airline’s management and pilot representatives prepared to meet for a last-ditch effort to reach a deal.
Comair Flight 191
The family of one of the victims of the August 27 crash of Comair Flight 5191 in Lexington, Ky., has amended its lawsuit to include charges that Bombardier failed to adequately protect passengers from flammable jet fuel in its design of the CRJ. The Fayette County coroner originally said the post-crash fire killed the 49 victims but later said autopsies determined that most had died from blunt force trauma.
While the NTSB ruled that the chartered Challenger 600 that overran a runway at Teterboro Airport (TEB) on Feb. 2, 2005, was loaded improperly, the accident also shone a spotlight on the murky issue of operational control of such flights.
On May 15 last year a Citation CJ2 (Danish registration OY-JET) landed 1,000 feet down the 2,948-foot-long runway at Bader Field in Atlantic City, N.J., and crashed into the water. There were no serious injuries to the four occupants.
Comair’s Cincinnati maintenance and repair facilities received FAA approval to perform third-party heavy maintenance on other airlines’ 50- and 70-seat Bombardier CRJs, making it one of nine Part 145 CRJ repair stations in the U.S. and potentially softening the blow of a major cut in Delta Connection flying.
The crash of Comair Flight 5191 in the early morning darkness of August 27 has given pause to the entire aviation community. As investigators grapple with the question of how an experienced CRJ100 crew could blast down an unlit, 3,500-foot runway without looking at so much as their heading, safety experts are becoming convinced that technology might have broken the chain of events that led to the crash.
The 30 days between late October and late November last year was the worst period ever for serious turbine corporate airplane accidents in the U.S. During that approximately one-month period, 23 people–14 crewmembers and nine passengers–were killed in five separate accidents.
When corporate headquarters in Atlanta called on Comair to fly Bombardier CRJs three times a day from Cincinnati into Missouri’s Springfield-Branson Regional Airport, the wholly owned Delta subsidiary faced a dilemma familiar to regional airlines everywhere–how to establish a new station too small to justify the cost of the needed equipment and staff. Until recently, the only option lay with hiring another airline to perform the duties.
Although the NTSB has not yet determined a probable cause for the February 2 Challenger 600 accident at New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport, it has released a number of factual reports. Apparently, the Platinum Jet Management crew failed to perform weight-and-balance calculations properly and delayed its use of the thrust reversers when the jet failed to take off.
Comair will dispose of as many as 30 regional jets and slash between 600 and 1,000 jobs as part of a plan to cut costs by $70 million a year, the company announced last month.