Flight 5191: Tower Understaffed - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Flight 5191: Tower Understaffed

New Media Producer: Kerry Corum

UPDATE, TUE, 7:30 AM: The day after the Kentucky plane crash that killed 49 people, high-ranking officials with the Federal Aviation Administration speculated the Lexington air traffic manager would be fired for only having one controller on duty at the time.

In the emails, the FAA's eastern and western terminal services directors discussed the decision by Blue Grass airport tower manager Duff Ortman, to staff the overnight shift with only one controller.

That decision was made despite an FAA directive that there should be two controllers on duty.

After mistakenly turning onto a runway that was too short, Comair Flight 5191 struggled to get airborne and crashed on August 27th.

The co-pilot is the sole survivor.

Previously: An air traffic controller at Lexington's Blue Grass Airport complained to federal officials earlier this year, about short-staffing in the tower.

And as 14 News told you a week ago, there were similar complaints filed in 2004.

The letters were sent in April to Kentucky's two US senators.

In them, a control tower worker says the overnight shift was not always fully staffed - and management was to blame.

The air controllers' union leader, Faron Collins, wrote the letters to Senators Jim Bunning and Mitch McConnell.

Another controller wrote to the FAA's Accountability Board last year, complaining about a hostile work environment in the tower.

Catch-up on 14 News coverage on the crash of Flight 5191.

Copyright 2006 WFIE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

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