Rejected Takeoff Overrun Prompts Sterile Cockpit Concerns

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A Jan. 19 event that saw US Airways Express Flight 2495 abort its takeoff and run off the runway at Yeager Airport in Charleston, W. Va., has been linked to irrelevant cockpit chatter prior to the takeoff roll and an improper flap setting. None of the 34 people aboard the Bombardier CRJ-200ER were seriously injured though the aircraft suffered damage when it plowed into a crushable concrete safety area at the end of the runway. As the investigation continues, the events that appear to have transpired in the cockpit prior to the accident are raising concern among some safety officials, according to The Wall Street Journal. "Safety experts" are noting the incident among others to raise the specter of "lack of pilot professionalism" and a lax culture they feel may be becoming more apparent in the cockpit. Cockpit voice recordings from the time prior to takeoff reportedly contain "stretches of nonpertinent chatter" irrelevant to flight preparations, according to "officials familiar with the details." FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt recently met with a House aviation subcommittee and said the FAA is looking for ways to better transfer experience from seasoned pilots to younger greener commuter pilots. Said Babbitt, those kinds of programs would be an "important way to raise professional standards and improve cockpit discipline."

According to sources contacted by The Wall Street Journal, the Bombardier CRJ-200ER began its takeoff roll with the incorrect flap setting, accelerated and began to rotate before the crew realized the mistake. The pilots then quickly readjusted the flaps, which prompted "an automated cockpit warning to abandon takeoff," sources told the Journal. The crew then tried to stop the jet but failed to slow it sufficiently before reaching the runway overrun safety area.