THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Pilot error may have led to Buffalo crash

New York Times / February 19, 2009
  • Email|
  • Print|
  • Single Page|
  • |
Text size +

NEW YORK - A re-creation of the last moments of the plane that crashed outside Buffalo last Thursday night, based on data from the flight recorder, shows that the crew might have overreacted to an automatic system that was trying to protect the aircraft from flying too slowly and crashing from an aerodynamic stall.

By using the data to create a computer animation of the flight's final seconds, investigators theorize that after the automatic system pointed down the nose of the plane to generate speed, the crew might have overreacted by yanking back on the yoke and pointing the nose too high, according to a person familiar with the animation.

The nose then plunged, and the airplane rolled and crashed into a house outside Buffalo, killing all 49 people on board and one man who was on the ground.

The Wall Street Journal reported on its website on Tuesday evening that the investigators were looking at crew action as a possible cause of the crash.

The plane, Continental Connection Flight 3407, from Newark to Buffalo, was flying on autopilot. In that aircraft, a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, the device can control altitude and course, but not the throttle, aviation specialists said.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, when the "stick-pusher," which takes control of the plane and points the nose down, activated and the autothrottle turned off, the crew tried to increase power. Apparently there was not enough altitude or time to recover control, however.

The stick-pusher may have activated at a speed higher than normal because it added a margin of safety to account for icing conditions, investigators say.

Investigators believe that the pilot at the controls was the captain, Marvin Renslow, who had begun flying the Dash 8 only in December.

  • Email
  • Email
  • Print
  • Print
  • Single page
  • Single page
  • Reprints
  • Reprints
  • Share
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Comment
 
  • Share on DiggShare on Digg
  • Tag with Del.icio.us Save this article
  • powered by Del.icio.us
Your Name Your e-mail address (for return address purposes) E-mail address of recipients (separate multiple addresses with commas) Name and both e-mail fields are required.
Message (optional)
Disclaimer: Boston.com does not share this information or keep it permanently, as it is for the sole purpose of sending this one time e-mail.