Will the surviving pilot from Comair flight 5191 go to jail?
Since it has already been established that the flight in Lexington, KY crashed because of pilots taking off a wrong runway (even though air traffic controller told them the right one), will the surviving co-pilot be charged and sentenced because of the mistake? Or was the captain of the aircraft responsible? What are regulations in these cases?
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Let's hope so. Seems like the pilots were a pair of drunken rednecks.
The pilot will not go to jail. He will however, if he is found responsible by the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board), lose his license to fly aircraft. I'm pretty sure the pilot feals horrible enough, he doesn't need jail time to remind him how much his crew messed up.
Unlikely the copilot would be jailed for anything outside non-intentional pilot error, hard pressed to think of this happening in the past in the USA, although many may recall pilots being arrested for being intoxicated. As a previous poster touched on, copilot may have the rest of his life to think about what happened, which is horrible enough punishment. Other parts of the world may be more apt to prosecute for pilot error. Back in 2000 after a Singapore Airlines 747 wrongly attempted takeoff from a closed runway in Taipei (hit construction equipment and burst into flames killing 83), officials in Taiwan reportedly considered detaining and charging the surviving pilots. In the end this did not happen and the crew was allowed to return to Singapore. While the Comair copilot was doing the ill-fated takeoff, it was only possible for the captain to do the actually taxing, including onto the end of the wrong runway. Many jets, including the CRJ involved in the Lexington accident, only have ground steering on the left side of the captain's seat (a tiller connected to the nose wheel). This said, it may be that no crewmember double checked the other enough or raised enough of a red flag to stop things before it was too late. This may be all the more sad in that there was an off-duty pilot on the Comair plane, he may have been on a jumpseat in the cockpit (if not in passenger cabin). While pilots continue to get better training and we learn from past accidents, a pilot is still only human. Reminds me of the Portland, OR bound United DC-8 back in 1970s that spent so much time looking at a possible landing gear problem that plane ran out of fuel. The captain strongly overrulled fuel concerns from the copilot prior to crash. The copilot (first officer) was one of 10 that died, the pilot and second officer lived although little doubt were sadly never the same. This accident come to my mind as I had friend that years after accident moved into house just blocks from the old crash site. I got to visit her and thus the old site (virtually no evidence left of crash). Investigators may be on the road to having flight crew error as the major cause of the Comair accident, but in the end we need to await the NTSB's final conclusion. Accidents generally have a series of factors, not just one, even if there is one factor that is bigger than the others. The configuration of the taxiways around the two Lexington runways may turn out to play at least a small factor, even if they were properly marked and even if the crew could have still used many means to see they were on the wrong runway.
I doubt it. From what I have heard here on the local news, it was the pilot, not the co-pilot, that lined up the plane to wrong runway. It is true that the surviving co-pilot was the one at the controls during takeoff. But one of the news stations here had a pilot on that said sometimes the pilot will line up the aircraft and let the copilot take control to get experience taking off the aircraft. Ultimately, the responsibility falls on the pilot. I am unsure of the actual regulations. A couple of lawsuits have been filed now against ComAir.