Crash of Flight 5191

NTSB 'go team' collects evidence at scene, will spend months analyzing

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board will follow a well-scripted process to determine what happened to Flight 5191, the Comair commuter plane that crashed at Blue Grass Airport Sunday morning.

The plan is fine-tuned to the specifics of each case, but investigators always look at certain things, said Vernon L. Grose, a former NTSB board member.

Grose said the potentially year-long process includes the following:

 Local officials notify the NTSB, and it mobilizes the "go team," a group that consists of one of five board members and 10 to 12 experts in various fields.

 They arrive as soon as possible and take control of the crash scene.

 The team begins collecting information and evidence on everything from the scene to flight and cockpit recorders, which are rushed to Washington for analysis, and control-tower data.

 The team will analyze how long the control tower operator had been on duty, how much sleep the crew had and how they spent roughly 72 hours before taking off.

 Other parties will be invited to the investigation.

NTSB member Debbie Hersman, who is heading the Lexington investigation, said the parties to this investigation include: the Federal Aviation Administration; General Electric, which manufactured the engines; the Canadian transportation board as adviser to the plane manufacturer, Bombardier; Comair; and representatives for pilots, mechanics, flight attendants and Blue Grass Airport. They met Sunday night to organize the investigation.

 The team could stay in Lexington for as long as a week, Grose said.

"Then they will go through a long period of analysis," he said.

 The staff will write a report on the probable cause, which the board will debate and discuss in public session before voting on it.

Any board member who doesn't agree can write a minor opinion or make additional points, Grose said.

Grose said 10 months to a year could pass before the final report is released.

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