Thursday, May 6, 2010

Continental Flight 3407

The Continental Flight 3407 crashed on February 12 2009 in Clarance Town New York. It was about 5 nautical miles from its destination airport. The flight was a regularly scheduled route from Newark New Jersey to Buffalo. The airplane crashed during its final approach falling flatly on a house. 50 people were killed altogether, 49 of them on board the aircraft, 1 inside the house. There were 4 residents in the house, the remaining 3 escaped with injuries. Firefighters rushed to the scene the put out fires, unfortunatly they were not able to save any lives. At first the crash appeared to be caused by icing, and that was the focus of the investigation. The aircraft did have good anit-ice systems as it is a modern high tech airplane. This was first fatal accident involving Q400 aircraft. Later investigation revealed that the likely cause was pilot error. The black box and cockpit voice recorder showed what happened in the last few moments. It appears as though the crew was not watching their airspeed as it was slowing down, they were also in the process of extending their flaps. As the airplane was reaching its stalling speed, the crew got a stick shaker warning on their controls, immediately the pilot then abruptly pulled up the yoke. This is the opposite of what he should have done. He should have lowered the nose and increased power. It appears that abruptly raising the nose aggravated the situation and put the airplane in a stall. This is because it reduced the speed even more and it increased the angle of attack abruptly. Furthermore T-tail aircraft suffer from the deep stall condition, which may have been a factor. This is when the stalled turbulent wake coming off the main wing gets into the vertical and horizontal stabilizer and reduces its effectivity. So the airplane went into a serious spiralling dive. The crew struggled to regain control. They managed to flatten it out and get it level. But it was too late. They were too close to the ground and didn't have enough flying speed to recover so it fell flat down and had its nose in the direction opposite to its destination airport where it was heading. The cockpit voice recorder revealed that they we're having conversations other than what was related to their flight, which under 10,000 feet, is against regulations. Also they were discussing seeing a buildup of ice on the wings. Furthermore, they discussed that they did not know how to deal with the icing. This was during the time when the speed was reducing, on its approach to the runway. Investigations into the pilots background also revealed that the pilot in charge had failed license checkrides a few times. Furthermore, the airline had failed to provide sufficient stall training to the pilots, and the pilot the day did not have the required stall training.