The cause of this week's tragic airplane crash in Lexington, Kentucky that killed 49 of the 50 people on board appears to have been very simple. The pilot turned onto the wrong runway and started to take off, unaware that the plane was on the wrong runway and the runway was 1500 feet too short for the plane.
Wrong-runway accidents are rare, but it occurred to me that this one might have been avoided if the airport had marked the runway with its length. The pilot and co-pilot would have had a chance to notice that the runway was only 3500 feet long instead of the 7000 feet of the airport's main runway, and then realized that they had made a mistake.
Isaac's modest suggestion: encourage airports to mark their runways -- or at least all but their longest runway -- at each end with the runway length, to provide one more chance for a wrong-runway pilot to catch his or her error before trying to take off on a runway that is too short. Another fifty dollars of paint on the runway might have saved 49 lives.