LEXINGTON, Ky. - A commuter jet was on the wrong runway when it crashed just after takeoff early Sunday and burst into flames, killing 49 people and leaving the lone survivor - a co-pilot - in critical condition, federal investigators said.
Preliminary data from the Comair Flight 5191's data records and the damage at the scene indicate the plane took off from Blue Grass Airport's shortest runway, a 3,500-foot-long strip not intended for commercial flights, National Transportation Safety Board member Debbie Hersmann said.
"We will be looking into performance data, we will be looking at the weight of the aircraft, we will be looking at speeds, we will pull at that information off and we will be looking at all that," Hersmann said.
The Atlanta-bound plane was largely intact but in flames when rescuers reached it. A police officer burned his arms dragging the only survivor from the cracked cockpit, but the fire kept rescuers from reaching anyone else.
"They were taking off, so I'm sure they had a lot of fuel on board," Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn said. "Most of the injuries are going to be due to fire-related deaths."
The crash was the country's worst domestic airplane accident in nearly five years.
FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said the agency had no indication that terrorism was involved in any way. Both flight recorders, which should help investigators determine what went wrong, were sent to Washington, D.C., for analysis.