Comair advises crews that revised chart of airport where CRJ200 crashed does not accurately reflect signage

US regional Comair has warned its crews that a revised airport chart issued after the 27 August crash of a Bombardier CRJ200 on take-off from Lexington, Kentucky does not reflect actual airport signage and markings. Chart provider Jeppesen and the US Federal Aviation Administration are discussing whether to issue a revised chart, as the airport has delayed construction of a new taxiway connector by a month to avoid altering the crash scene.

Jeppesen says it issued the new chart on 8 September following an internal review that is "standard procedure" after every accident. The review revealed that taxiway connector names had changed and one frequently used connector - A5, linking the threshold of the short runway 26 with the main runway 22 - had been closed since the previous chart was issued on 27 January.

Jeppesen says it subsequently heard from several users that the new chart does not reflect actual conditions at Lexington, where construction has been under way since before the Comair accident. Instead, the chart represents the runway and taxiway configuration that will be in place when construction is complete later this year.

The FAA says its charting office was notified by Lexington of runway and taxiway changes and issued a new airport diagram to chart vendors including Jeppesen at the end of June. It now appears the data provided by the airport reflected the layout planned to be in place once construction was complete.

Although the chart in circulation when the accident occurred was no longer accurate, the FAA says it was the airport's responsibility to inform the flight service station of the real-time situation so notices to airmen (Notam) could be issued to crews. But the FAA emphasises Notams "are not designed to highlight discrepancies between charts and reality, but to state the real conditions at the airport".

Differences between the charts and reality mainly involve the taxiway layout between runways 26 and 22 - the area where the Comair CRJ crew, in pre-dawn darkness, mistakenly turned on to the cross-runway 26 instead of carrying on to the main runway 22. The aircraft ran off the end of the short runway, failed to get airborne and crashed into trees, killing 49 people.

It is not known if chart inaccuracy was a factor in the crash, which is still under investigation, but with a one-month delay to the start of construction of a new taxiway connector - already shown on the 8 September chart, and required to line up with the newly relocated end of runway 22 - the FAA is determining whether it needs to issue a revised, interim airport chart.

Source: Flight International