Crash of Flight 5191

Commuter craft ‘very typical regional aircraft’

The Comair Delta connections flight that crashed at Blue Grass Airport is a CRJ-100 series plane made by Bombardier Aerospace of Toronto, Canada. It had logged 12,000 flights and 14,500 flight hours since Comair purchased it in January 2001.

It is “a very typical regional aircraft,” said Comair chief Don Bornhorst.

Since 2001, the Federal Aviation Administration lists 23 service reports on its Web site for the 50-seat plane, registration number 431CA. They include:

n September 2001: The plane “demonstrated yaw (swaying) characteristics, especially during climb.”

n Oct. 19, 2001: The flaps failed in cold weather. The flaps failed again on April 26, 2002.

n In December 2004: The plane had cracks in the frame and a support beam.

Debbie Herzman, a National Transportation Safety Board member, said the plane apparently took off from the short runway at Blue Grass.

Bombardier spokesman Bert Cruikshank would not say whether a 3,500-foot runway would be too short for successful takeoff by one of the CRJs. Bombardier manufactures several CRJ-series jets, from the 100 to the 900.

“From an aviation point of view in general,” Cruikshank said, “runway length requirement depends on the mission that aircraft is on and the payload, passenger load and fuel.’”

Cruikshank said the plane “has had an exceptional safety record” since it was introduced in 1992. Yesterday’s accident is the third with a death.

Kate Marx, a Comair spokeswoman, said the specifications are the same on the 100 and 200 models. The main difference seems to be an improved engine in the 200.

NTSB records show a CRJ-100 plane crashed June 22, 2003, killing the pilot. Flight 5672, a BritAir (Air France) Canadair jet, crashed on approach at Brest, France. During approach, the aircraft moved to the left of the center line on the runway and struck the ground. It then struck several obstacles and came to rest a little more than a mile from the runway and caught fire. There were 20 passengers and three crew members aboard. One crew member and three passengers were injured.

A little more than a year later, a CRJ-200 Bombardier plane crashed in eastern China.

The China Eastern-Yunnan Airlines plane, carrying 47 passengers and six crew members, crashed Nov. 21, 2004, after takeoff from Baotou airport, killing all aboard. Two people on the ground also died, according to the NTSB accident database.

An article in China Daily said the plane “fell to the ground” a few seconds after takeoff. It crashed into a frozen lake and caught fire. Flight data recorders were not recovered.

In addition, the NTSB issued a safety recommendation letter in March stating there were seven instances of fires on 200-series planes, six between September 2005 and March 2006. Four of the seven recommendations made by NTSB were classified as “urgent.”

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