Comair Flight 5191: Media is Swinging at Air

08/31/2006: If Comair Flight 5191 had been involved in a midair collision, then the fact that the air traffic controller was operating on two hours of sleep–and was operating alone–would be pertinent. Those are matters that should be investigated in order to prevent midair collisions and related mishaps that air traffic controllers are supposed to prevent.

That said, those have no relevance to the cause of the Flight 5191 disaster. That was pilot error: failure to execute pre-takeoff checklist.

It is that simple.

I am not trying to demean the pilots or their families; they are not monsters.

This should, however, serve as a warning to pilots–from students to private pilots to airline pilots–to stick to their checklists (and NOTAMs), irrespective of how comfortable they are with their aircraft, and irrespective of how many flight hours they may have.

In most professions, those types of errors are embarassing, at worst resulting in loss of job.

But aviation is far less forgiving.

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