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Comair pilot noted absence of runway lights before Lexington crash

Moments before the Comair Bombardier CRJ100 crashed while attempting to take off from the wrong runway at Kentucky's Blue Grass airport on 27 August last year, the aircraft's first officer expressed surprise at the absence of runway lights.

The National Transportation Safety Board has released transcripts of parts of the cockpit voice recorder (CVR), revealing that, as the aircraft accelerated through 100kt (185km/h), the first officer commented that it was "weird with no runway lights". The runway that the aircraft was using was the 1,100m (3,500ft)-long general aviation runway 26.

Some 9s later, the CVR records the sound of the first impact as the aircraft ran on deep into the runway overrun area and beyond. The aircraft, operating a Delta Connection flight, failed to become airborne and crashed into an airport perimeter fence and trees. Of the 50 passengers and crew on board, only the first officer survived.

The transcript also reveals that numerous references to runway 22, the runway from which they were cleared to take off, were made by the pilots in their internal and external communications with controllers. The speeding aircraft crossed runway 22, which was fully lit, but that was before they would have reached 100kt.

In December, the NTSB asked the FAA to require operators to establish procedures "requiring all crew members on the flightdeck to positively confirm and cross-check the aircraft's location at the assigned departure runway before crossing the hold-short line for take-off", a practice Comair had not mandated at the time. The NTSB is expected to release a final report by the middle of this year.

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