NTSB: Comair Pilots Had 45 Seconds

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The NTSB on Monday released a factual report from its on-the-scene investigation into the Comair crash that killed 49 people in Lexington, Ky., last month. The Comair crew was cleared to 7,001-by-150-foot Runway 22. The flight data recorder shows the crew stopped near the end of Runway 26 for about 45 seconds before the flight was cleared for takeoff. Six seconds later, the airplane started to taxi onto 3,500-by-75-foot Runway 26. It took about 36 seconds for the airplane to taxi onto the runway and complete the turn before power was increased to initiate the takeoff. The airplane accelerated to about 137 knots, ran off the end of the shorter runway through the airport perimeter fence, and impacted trees on an adjacent horse farm. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a post-crash fire.

Toxicological tests of both pilots found no illicit substances or alcohol, but an over-the-the counter decongestant, pseudoephedrine, was detected at a low level in the first officer's blood. Earlier reports said the captain had taxied the airplane into position, then handed it over to First Officer James Polehinke for takeoff. Polehinke was the sole survivor of the crash. He remains hospitalized in serious condition. His family says he has communicated with them but remembers nothing about the crash. His left leg has been amputated and he will require further surgeries, a hospital spokesman said.