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Senator Collins Issues Statement on NTSB Report on 2019 Presque Isle Missed Runway Incident

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the Ranking Member of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, issued a statement on the release of the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) final report on the missed runway incident at Presque Isle International Airport that occurred in March of 2019. 


“This incident at the airport in Presque Isle was very disturbing and frightening for the passengers and crew who were involved,” said Senator Collins.  “I appreciated the NTSB’s preliminary report that was issued a few weeks after the crash, which was helpful in determining some of the key facts and allowed the airline and the airport to take immediate steps to increase safety.  By thoroughly investigating all of the factors that led to the plane missing the runway, the final report issued by the NTSB today can help ensure that this kind of preventable accident never happens again.”


On March 4, 2019, CommutAir flight 4933, a 50 passenger Embraer plane, was attempting to land on runway 1 at Presque Isle International Airport in light to moderate snow.  The pilot did not touch down on the first attempt.  On the second attempt, the pilot landed off the runway between runway 1 and a parallel taxiway.  The first officer and two of the 28 passengers sustained minor injuries.  The airplane was substantially damaged.


Following the incident, Senator Collins contacted the National Transportation Safety Board and asked them to investigate the cause of the accident.  At an Appropriations hearing in July 2019, Senator Collins raised this issue directly with then-Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.  As a leader of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Collins has consistently secured robust funding for the instrument landing system (ILS) that provides pilots with precision landing information in poor visibility.


The NTSB’s final report provides no new recommendations, but notes that CommutAir implemented several actions to increase safety.


The report determined the probable causes of this accident to be the flight crew’s decision, due to confirmation bias, to continue the descent below the decision altitude when the runway had not been positively identified. Contributing to the accident were:


  • The first officer’s fatigue, which exacerbated his confirmation bias, and


  • The failure of CommutAir pilots who had observed an issue with the ILS prior to the accident and failed to report it to the company and air traffic control.


Additionally, the report states that FAA provides guidance to airports for developing a snow and ice control plan.  In October 2020, FAA provided additional guidance for airport operators about snow removal around navigational aids.




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