NTSB SAYS 'TOLEDO' REPORT WAS ITS MISTAKE
The Tragedy of Flight 5191


Lexington Herald-Leader
September 9, 2006
By Valerie Honeycutt Spears

A closer examination of an air traffic control tower tape shows that neither pilot on Comair Flight 5191 gave the wrong flight number or mentioned Toledo, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board said yesterday.

NTSB spokesman Terry Williams apologized to families who were given that incorrect information at NTSB briefings after the Aug. 27 crash.

Williams said families were erroneously told that while talking to the control tower before the fatal crash, one of the pilots called out the wrong flight number and city, saying "Toledo."

"It was a mistake" made by the NTSB, Williams said. "But I do apologize for the error."

He said he did not know from where the Toledo information came.

Williams said NTSB officials realized they had given families wrong information after more closely examining the tape. Williams said families were told at the briefings that the information they were being given was preliminary.

Williams said he knew of no other incorrect information that was given to the families of the 49 people who died on Aug. 27 when Comair Flight 5191 crashed shortly after takeoff from the wrong runway at Blue Grass Airport. In addition to taking off from the wrong runway, the pilots briefly boarded the wrong plane, NTSB officials have said.

Williams said that NTSB officials would notify families of the error about the flight number and city and would continue to update families about the investigation.

Charlie Scales, brother-in-law of Flight 5191 passenger Gregory Threet of Lexington, and Kyra Frederick, wife of passenger Bart Frederick of Danville, told the Herald-Leader on Thursday that they were told at briefings that one of the pilots gave the control tower the wrong flight number and referred to the city of Toledo.

Scales said yesterday that he was not "terribly concerned" about being given incorrect information.

"It was within the first few days after the crash," he said. "They've told us that the final report might not come for 10 to 14 months."

Meanwhile, Comair officials said yesterday that there was no connection between the Aug. 27 crash of Comair Flight 5191 and the cancellation of a flight from Lexington to Atlanta the night before.

Two different airplanes were involved in the unrelated incidents, said Comair spokeswoman Kate Marx.

The flight -- scheduled to depart at 5:55 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 26 -- was cancelled because of mechanical problems. The airplane belonged to Chautauqua Airlines, not Comair, Marx said.

In an interview Thursday, Kyra Frederick said her husband had been scheduled to fly from Lexington to Atlanta the night before the crash, but that flight had been canceled.

Frederick said she and other passengers had not been able to find out why the flight was canceled or whether that aircraft was the same one that crashed the next day.

Marx said Comair officials would be contacting Frederick to assure her the two flights were unrelated.