WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal safety investigators say the flight data recorder fromlast month's air crash near Buffalo, N.Y., doesn't reveal the planehad icing problems immediately before the crash. All 49 peopleaboard the plane and one man in the house died.
The National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday it iscontinuing to examine the Q400 Bombardier's deicing system andprobe the flight crew's training.
Continental Connection Flight 3407 was about five miles shortof the Buffalo Niagara International Airport flying in icingconditions the night of Feb. 12 when the plane tumbled wildly outof control and plummeted onto a house.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
Update from NTSB below:
In its continuing investigation into the crash of Colgan AirFlight 3407 in Clarence Center, New York, the NationalTransportation Safety Board has released the following factualinformation.On February 12, 2009, about 10:17 p.m. Eastern StandardTime (EST), a Colgan Air Inc., Bombardier Dash 8-Q400, N200WQ,d.b.a. Continental Connection flight 3407, crashed during aninstrument approach to runway 23 at the Buffalo-NiagaraInternational Airport (BUF), Buffalo, New York.
The crash site was approximately 5 nautical miles northeastof the airport in Clarence Center, New York, and mostly confined toone residential house. The 4 crew members and 45 passengerswere fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed by impactforces and post crash fire. There was one groundfatality. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed atthe time of the accident.
The flight was a Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 121scheduled passenger flight from Liberty International Airport(EWR), Newark, New Jersey to Buffalo.The NTSB has voted to conducta public hearing on this accident. The hearing, which will beheld May 12 - 14, 2009, at the NTSB's Board Room and ConferenceCenter in Washington, D.C., will cover a wide range of safetyissues including: icing effect on the airplane's performance,cold weather operations, sterile cockpit rules, crew experience,fatigue management, and stall recovery training.
The public hearing is part of the Safety Board's efforts todevelop all appropriate facts for the investigation. "Thetragedy of flight 3407 is the deadliest transportation accident inthe United States in more than 7 years," Acting Chairman Mark V.Rosenker, who will chair the hearing, said. "Thecircumstances of the crash have raised several issues that go wellbeyond the widely discussed matter of airframe icing, and we willexplore these issues in our investigative fact-finding hearing."Thehearing will be held "en banc," meaning that all Members of theNTSB will sit on the Board of Inquiry. Parties that willparticipate in the hearing will be announced at a later time.Theaircraft wreckage has been moved from the accident site to a securelocation for follow-on inspections as may be needed.
A preliminary examination of the airplane systems hasrevealed no indication of pre-impact system failures oranomalies. Investigators will perform additional examinationson the dual distribution valves installed in the airplane's de-icesystem. The de-ice system removes ice accumulation from theleading edges of the wings, horizontal tail, and vertical tailthrough the use of pneumatic boots. The dual distributionvalves, which transfer air between the main bleed air distributionducts and the pneumatic boots, were removed from the airplane forthe examination.
The airplane maintenance records have been reviewed and nosignificant findings have been identified at this time.The ATCgroup has completed a review of recordings of controllercommunications with the flight crew during the accident flight andconducted interviews with air traffic controllers on duty at thetime of the accident. The group has no further work plannedat this time.
Further review of the weather conditions on the night of theaccident revealed the presence of variable periods of snow andlight to moderate icing during the accident airplane's approach tothe Buffalo airport. Examination of the FDR data andpreliminary evaluation of airplane performance models shows thatsome ice accumulation was likely present on the airplane prior tothe initial upset event, but that the airplane continued to respondas expected to flight control inputs throughout the accidentflight. The FDR data also shows that the stall warning andprotection system, which includes the stick shaker and stickpusher, activated at an airspeed and angle-of-attack (AOA)consistent with that expected for normal operations when the de-iceprotection system is active.
The airplane's stick shaker will normally activate severalknots above the actual airplane stall speed in order to provide theflight crew with a sufficient safety margin and time to initiatestall recovery procedures. As a result of ice accumulation onthe airframe, an airplane's stall airspeed increases. Toaccount for this potential increase in stall speed in icingconditions, the Dash 8-Q400's stall warning system activates at ahigher airspeed than normal when the de-ice system is activein-flight to provide the flight crew with adequate stall warning ifice accumulation is present.Preliminary airplane performancemodeling and simulation efforts indicate that icing had a minimalimpact on the stall speed of the airplane. The FDR dataindicates that the stick shaker activated at 130 knots, which isconsistent with the de-ice system being engaged.
FDR data further indicate that when the stick shakeractivated, there was a 25-pound pull force on the control column,followed by an up elevator deflection and increase in pitch, angleof attack, and Gs. The data indicate a likely separation ofthe airflow over the wing and ensuing roll two seconds after thestick shaker activated while the aircraft was slowing through 125knots and while at a flight load of 1.42 Gs.
The predicted stall speed at a load factor of 1 G would beabout 105 knots. Airplane performance work is continuing.Since returning from on-scene, the Operations & HumanPerformance group has conducted additional interviews with flightcrew members who had recently flown with and/or providedinstruction to the accident crew, as well as personnel at ColganAir responsible for providing training of flight crews andoverseeing the management and safety operations at theairline.
The group also conducted interviews with FAA personnelresponsible for oversight of the Colgan certificate, which includedthe Principal Operations Inspector (POI) and aircrew programmanager for the Dash 8 Q-400.
The team has also continued its review of documentation,manuals, and other guidance pertaining to the operation of the Dash8 Q-400 and training materials provided to the Colgan Air flightcrews.The Operations & Human Performance group continues toinvestigate and review documentation associated with the flightcrew's flight training history and professional development duringtheir employment at Colgan as well as prior to joining thecompany.Post-accident toxicological testing of the flight crew wasperformed by the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI)toxicology lab.
Specimens taken from the first officer were negative foralcohol, illicit substances, and a wide range of prescription andover the counter medications. Specimens taken from thecaptain were negative for alcohol and illicit substances, andpositive for diltiazem, a prescription blood pressure medicationthat had been reported to and approved for his use by the FederalAviation Administration.The Safety Board is also examining severalother areas potentially related to the accident,including: The circumstances of a recent eventinvolving a Dash 8-Q400, operated by Colgan Air, in which theairplane's stick shaker activated during approach to the BurlingtonInternational Airport (BTV) in Burlington, Vermont. Apreliminary review of the FDR data from that flight shows themomentary onset of the stick shaker during the approach phase offlight. The airplane subsequently landed withoutincident. NTSB investigators have conducted interviews withthe pilots and check airman on board this flight and will continueto investigate the incident.
Reports of airplane deviations resulting from distortion ofthe instrument landing system (ILS) signal for runway 23 atBUF. There is an existing Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) related tothis distortion condition. To date, investigation into thesereports has not revealed any connection to the accident flight.
Copyright Press release National Transportation Safety Board
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