'Black Box' Casts Doubt on Buffalo Crash Theory
What caused the worst air crash in the United States in more than seven years? The thinking has changed a bit today.
The initial theory about the Feb. 12 crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 in Buffalo was that icing on the airframe sent the plane out of control. The Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 crashed into a house, killing all 49 people aboard and one man in the house.
Icing also has been cited as a possible cause of Sunday's crash of a chartered single-engine plane in Montana, which killed 14 people heading for a skiing vacation.
But information from the Buffalo plane's data recorders casts doubt on the icing theory in that case. The National Transportation Safety Board said today that the ice didn't appear to hamper the functioning of the aircraft. Moreoever, the data box shows that someone pulled back on the control stick after the plane's stall warning system activated -- which officials said could have increased the chance of a stall.
"The circumstances of the crash have raised several issues that go well beyond the widely discussed matter of airframe icing," NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker says in a statement.
The NTSB has scheduled an unusual three-day public hearing on the crash beginning May 12. All five board members are scheduled to attend.
After a banner two years of safe air travel -- with no U.S. air fatalities in 2007 or 2008, the best years since the advent of jet travel -- there have now been three major plane crashes in the United States in 2009. (Besides Buffalo and Montana, there was the US Airways jetliner that landed in the Hudson River in New York City after a flock of geese hit the engines.)
According to the British insurance company Lloyd's, there have been five major air crashes worldwide with 92 fatalities so far this year. [See list from the Aviation Safety Network.] That still falls below the average rate of the last 10 years.
Lloyd's says that some authorities believe that safety risks could grow internationally, particularly in developing countries, due to increasing congestion, the economic downturn and the prospect that airlines may cut back on investments.
By The Editors |
March 25, 2009; 5:59 PM ET
In the News
Previous: AIG Execs' Bonus Hold-Out, The Pitch for Expanded Powers, DOJ Invokes 'State Secrets | Next: More Departures at AIG?, DEA's Surveillance Plane Problems, Madoff Spotlight Swings to Brother
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: umtutsut | March 26, 2009 7:07 AM
Posted by: rhhardin | March 26, 2009 8:12 AM
Posted by: ssejhill | March 26, 2009 12:54 PM
Posted by: RJW_NY | March 26, 2009 3:16 PM
Posted by: nyplt | March 27, 2009 9:47 PM
Posted by: rhhardin | March 28, 2009 1:33 AM
Posted by: AMERICANDREAMER | March 28, 2009 7:45 AM
Posted by: nyplt | March 28, 2009 10:29 AM