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NTSB: Accidents on runways declining

Accidents involving planes on runways have declined, but there still is need for improvement, National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Debbie Hersman said Tuesday.

Hersman was the board member in charge of the investigation of the August 2006 crash of Comair Flight 5191, in which 49 people died and one survived when a plane took off from the wrong runway at Blue Grass Airport.

She spoke to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association in Orlando. Hersman mentioned the Lexington crash in her speech, along with several accidents in which planes overran runways, and a tragedy 33 years ago when two jumbo jets collided on a runway in the Canary Islands, killing 583 passengers and crew.

She attributed the decline in runway problems to "robust procedures, safe designs and alert controllers and pilots." But an October incident in which a plane landed on a taxiway in Atlanta (with no injuries) shows that more study is needed on fatigue and other problems, she said.