13 February 2009

Crash: Colgan DH8D at Buffalo on Feb 12th 2009, impacted home while on approach

Hello Good People, BlkAv8tor2003 checking In!!!

I'm sorry to hear and see we lost a flight in the Upstate NY area. A friend of mine here in AZ is under the command in the U.S. Army of the husband of the copilot on board this flight. so it hit a little close to home and as an aviator we never like to see an aircraft go down with the loss of lives. The incident/accident with US Airways landing in the Hudson we can see the skills of airmanship required to do what we do. I do have a couple a concerns about what was "reported" because I know the source and usually the local and national news agencies are about as qualified to speak about an airplane crash as I am to fly the space shuttle and never seen it before the time I strap in!

I'm not here to bash or bad mouth another pilot but I do have questions against what has been reported and hopefully I will have my answers once the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and the flight data recorder (FDR) have been found and released so I can hear for myself. 

1. It's been reported that the copilot was the flying pilot and the captain was working the radios and when the plane really got into trouble the captain took over control which is normal. My question is as the aircraft was making its approach the copilot called for "gear down" well before the flaps were extended. Now I don't or have ever flown the Dash 8 but what I do know on most aircraft (jets or props) if you lower the landing gear before the flaps you get a very loud warning horn to let the pilots know that the aircraft is not configured correctly for landing. Why was this done if it's true? Just a question.

2. Is there an aerodynamic reason during flight in "known icing conditions" to extend the gear before the flaps? This one is puzzling to me so I will be looking forward to finding someone who is qualified currently or has flown it for a bit to help decipher this one.

These are just a couple of questions I had that I would like to get answered. I'm sorry that it happened and I offer my condolences to the families involved in the tragic accident but hopefully we will learn from it and continue to have safe airline travel in the future.

As I always say "Be Proactive, Not Reactive" so that you can enjoy your flight!


Updated 18 Feb 2009

By Simon Hradecky, created Friday, Feb 13th 2009 07:29Z, last updated Friday, Feb 13th 2009 15:20Z

N200WQ impacted a home at Buffalo (Photo: AP/David Duprey)

A Colgan Air de Havilland Dash 8-400 on behalf of Continental Airlines, registration N200WQ performing flight 9L-3407/CO-3407 from Newark,NJ to Buffalo,NY with 44 passengers, one off duty pilot and 4 crew, crashed into a home in a suburb of Buffalo about 5 nm from the airport and burst into flames while on approach to Buffalo's Niagara Airport at about 10:17pm local time (03:17Z).

All 49 occupants and one person on the ground died. Pinnacle Airlines, parent company of Colgan Air, released the names of people on board changing the number of occupants from 48 to 49. An additional off duty pilot was on board as well. The post impact fire is not just caused by the fuel leaked from the airplane, but there is a source of natural gas within the accident scene fueling the fire. Firefighters do not expect to be able to extinguish the fire before noon Friday (about 14 hours after the crash). The airplane was on the approach frequency, had been cleared down to 2300 feet, guided via radar vectors (heading 330 then heading 310) and cleared for an ILS approach to runway 23 and had just been handed over to the tower. The crew confirmed the frequency change, but didn't contact the tower anymore and could also not be reached on the approach frequency about one minute after hand over. A following Delta flight 1998 could not see the Dash 8 due to being in cloud, but also could not see the plane on their TCAS.The home 6050 Long Road is reported to be completely destroyed (reduced to rubble).

Twelve homes along Long Road, Goodrich Road and Clarence Center Road near Clarence Town Hall in Clarence Center had to be evacuated, two more residents on the ground, which escaped the destroyed building, were treated for minor injuries and brought to a hospital. Fire fighters were on the scene within seconds with their fire house on Clarence Center Road just next to the crash site.A witness on the ground saw the airplane flying low with the left wing slightly low before it impacted ground. The tower controller reported, that the airplane dropped off his radar without any anomaly beforehand.Following the recognition, that the airplane was on the ground, the tower checked the ILS equipment of the airport sending Delta 1998 into a hold, found the ILS working correctly according to indications in the tower but transmitted a warning to all aircraft on tower and approach frequencies.

Delta 1998 coming from the North reported upon request by the approach, that they were not building any significant ice, however reported a quarter of an inch. Another airplane, Cactus (US Airways/America West) 1452 coming from the South like the crashed Colgan Air, reported that they were picking up some ice for about 10 minutes for about 20nm however. Subsequently Delta 1998 was commanded to not perform an autoland for possible localizer fluctuations. When Cactus 1452 reached 7nm from the runway, the crew reported the ice started to come off the windscreen (out of icing). Ground elevation at the crash site is approximately 633 feet MSL.The NTSB has arrived with 5 investigators on scene, a total of 14 investigators are expected. Due to the hot fire still burning on scene, the NTSB could not yet access the crash site except for the tail of the plane, where attempts are currently made to retrieve the cockpit voice and flight data recorders.

The Aviation Herald has prepared a 5 minute excerpt (630kB) of the ATC recording (Courtesy LiveATC.net) containing just the relevant communications between tower, approach, 9L-3407, DL-1998 and US-1452 at: http://avherald.com/files/colgan_dh8d_n200wq_buffalo_090212_atc.mp3


KBUF 130552Z 31010KT 1SM R23/5000VP6000FT -SN BR BKN007 OVC013 00/M01 A2985 RMKAO2 CIG 003V010 P0000KBUF 130454Z 26014KT 3SM -SN BR SCT011 OVC021 01/00 A2983 RMK AO2 SLP109 P0004 T00060000 401060000

KBUF 130354Z 24011KT 3SM -SN BR SCT011 OVC021 01/M01 A2981 RMK AO2 SLP103 P0002 T00061006KBUF 130254Z 24015G22KT 3SM -SN BR FEW011 BKN021 OVC027 01/M01 A2979 RMK AO2 SLP097 P0001 60004 T00061006 51015

KBUF 130154Z 24015G23KT 3SM -SN BR FEW011 OVC021 01/M01 A2978 RMK AO2 SLP092 P0001 T00061006KBUF 130111Z 23014KT 2SM -SN BR OVC017 01/M01 A2977 RMK AO2 P0001KBUF 130149Z 24015KT 3SM -SN BR FEW011 OVC021 01/M01 A2978 RMK AO2 P0001KBUF 130050Z 23017G23KT 1 1/4SM -SN BR OVC015 01/M01 A2977 RMK AO2 SLP088 P0002 T00061006

KBUF 130005Z 24013G20KT 2SM -SN BR BKN013 OVC017 01/M01 A2975 RMK AO2 P0000

Detail Road Map of

Clarence Center:

ILS 23 approach chart:

Still smoldering scene of destruction in daylight 
The NTSB reported, that the airplane's heading was not southwest towards the runway, but into the opposite northeast direction. The airplane came down in a flat attitude (not in a nosedive attitude), documented by the distribution of cockpit, wings, engines and tail of the airplane. Both engines were working normaly according to a cursory visual examination supported by data from the flight data recorder.

It will take 3-4 days to separate the victims' remains from the wreckage.

The airplane had been delayed to depart from Newark by high winds, not for any mechanical issue.

Authorities have heavily secured and cordoned off an area of 2 miles around the crash site on Saturday making clear, they only want people within that area that have absolutely to be there. Even residents have been moved out of their homes and are asked to not come into the perimeter while a search for clues into the crash is underway.
By Simon Hradecky, created Friday, Feb 13th 2009 21:29Z, 

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