In every accident, there’s a chain of events or conditions leading to the outcome. Break one of the links in the chain, and the accident can be avoided, at least in theory. The individual links leading to the crash of Comair flight 5191 at Lexington, Ky., on August 27, 2006, aren’t big ones like an engine failing or running out of fuel. The NTSB’s final report indicates plenty of opportunities to change the course of events. There’s almost a compulsion to ask over and over again, “what if?”
The accident occurred before dawn, during night visual meteorological conditions. Instead of using runway 22 for takeoff, which was 7,003 feet long by 150 feet wide, the flight crew lined up on runway 26, a GA runway used only for day VFR. Runway 26 was 3,501 feet by 150 feet, with paint markings limiting the usable width to 75 feet. The runway edge lights, marking the 150-foot width, had been disconnected in 2001.