13 INVESTIGATES: Possible runway risks - Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

13 INVESTIGATES: Possible runway risks

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Runway 18 at the Birmingham-shuttles worth international airport is 7,099 feet long. That's about four thousand feet shorter than the Birmingham airports other runway.

We're told that landing strip was closed for repairs this morning, forcing flight 1354 to make approach on the shorter runway, when it crashed on its approach to the airport.

Barry Franks runs the Over the Mountain Flight School at the Shelby County Airport. He claims the intended runway involved in this morning's crash can safely handle planes the size of flight 1354, and does so on a regular basis. 

But, runway 18 does come with a few extra concerns.

First, it is what you call a non-precision approach. That means pilots must rely more on their training and this chart called an "approach plate," rather than self-guiding instruments in the cockpit.

Franks also says there is hill just short of the runway, which could potentially add a wrinkle to a troubled landing before sunrise.

"If they were to descend lower than what the chart allows them to at that particular place, I could see where that hill might potentially become an obstruction and something that would block their view of the runway," Franks explained.

We also spoke with a commercial airline pilot this afternoon.  Both he and franks agree that weather was likely not a factor in this morning's crash.

Both also say it is too hard to predict what really went wrong without more information

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