Join 3,414 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Plane Crash In New York, Buffalo.
February 12, 2009 10:22 PM   Subscribe

Flight No. 3407 crashes in Buffalo, New York. This, after the flight that landed in the Hudson, and all the people were saved. The Plane crash on YouTube as of now.
posted by hadjiboy (111 comments total)

 
I hope all of the people here are safe, and accounted for. As for the people on the plane, my heart goes out to them, and their families, and anyone else involved in this crash.
posted by hadjiboy at 10:25 PM on February 12, 2009


Was the youtube link necessary?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:27 PM on February 12, 2009


There goes that 2 years without fatalities record.
posted by Krrrlson at 10:31 PM on February 12, 2009


I hope all of the people here are safe, and accounted for.

They aren't. All 48 on board and one on the ground dead. The plane crashed into a house.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:32 PM on February 12, 2009


Here's the flightaware page showing the path. Looks like something went wrong at the very end.
posted by mathowie at 10:32 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


They aren't.

I think he meant mefites....
posted by Ogre Lawless at 10:33 PM on February 12, 2009


Looks like something went wrong at the very end.

I imagine that's true of most crashes.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:33 PM on February 12, 2009 [24 favorites]


Well, I mean as opposed to most recent plane crashes, which happen right after take-off.
posted by mathowie at 10:34 PM on February 12, 2009


What youtube link? That's a link to a news article which happens to have some video footage and photos alongside.
posted by ryanrs at 10:35 PM on February 12, 2009


I just put it there because they're showing it on the news too. If people are stressed by the crash, and wouldn't want to see anything too visual, please do not click on the YouTube link, even though there is some information there you can read.

MaryDellamorte, the YouTube link is on the bottom of the page, and it doesn't open up unless you click on it. Otherwise, it's just a news clip, other than the YouTube link.
posted by hadjiboy at 10:36 PM on February 12, 2009


Airliners.net has a comprehensive thread. My friend (also a flight attendant) was checking it around 11pm and we've been on pins and needles ever since.

Very sad. My heart goes out to the family members of the passengers and crew onboard.

.
posted by jnaps at 10:36 PM on February 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


I changed the link to the actual youtube link buried in that newspaper article.
posted by mathowie at 10:37 PM on February 12, 2009


That flightaware page gives me the creeps.
posted by granted at 10:38 PM on February 12, 2009


What youtube link? That's a link to a news article which happens to have some video footage and photos alongside.

It's a link to a page with the same information as the first link. The only reason he linked to the last link was for the video the website linked from youtube. It's below the first video. I don't think internet rubbernecking and watched the burning grave of 49 people is appropriate.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:39 PM on February 12, 2009


Maybe we can catch a glimpse of one of the burning bodies! That would be rad!
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:40 PM on February 12, 2009


Here's the ATC recording

15:22 - Contact with 3407
16.04 - Last contact with 3407
17:22 - Another plane is asked to keep an eye out for the plane.
20:30 - Fire/police notified.
21:50 - Emergency declared.
24:00 - Dash 8 didn't make the airport.
posted by mrbill at 10:40 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the airliners.net thread, it sounds like the weather was really bad, there was ice on the wings during the approach for landing and the plane reported mechanical problems right before the crash.

I was on a prop plane of similar size last week. Pretty chilling stuff.
posted by mathowie at 10:46 PM on February 12, 2009


I'm betting icing conditions. Why I don't fly on prop planes period. RJs are a close second. WN for me all the way.

(Born in Amherst, NY; was back there at this time last year saying goodbye to my Grandfather)
posted by SirOmega at 10:48 PM on February 12, 2009


Condolences to family members.

My Dad flew a lot for his job, and the two planes he bitched about with regards to safety were DC-10's and Dash 8's.
posted by bardic at 10:52 PM on February 12, 2009


What airlines use the Dash 8?
posted by mathowie at 10:53 PM on February 12, 2009


I fly Dash 8s all the time for work, usually over mountain ranges to remote parts of the province where I live, often in the winter when it is -30 Celsius with plenty of ice and snow. I had thought that Dash 8s were pretty safe planes.

The plane that crashed today was a Q400, a next-generation version of the Dash turboprop series (it's called "Q" for "quiet" because it has noise-reduction technologies).

Unlike the Dash series, the Q-series has been involved in a number of accidents over the past few years, usually because of landing gear failure. Generally speaking, this is not the fault of Bombardier, but because ground crews are not trained in how to properly maintain the new Q-series (the airline operators are at fault).
posted by KokuRyu at 11:01 PM on February 12, 2009 [5 favorites]


mathowie: list of all the Dash-8s ever made.
posted by SirOmega at 11:01 PM on February 12, 2009


What airlines use the Dash 8?

Many, many short-haul regional airlines use it for short trips, including Horizon Air and Alaska Air in the Pacific Northwest.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:02 PM on February 12, 2009


On Friday the 13th, no less. This is tragic.
posted by spiderskull at 11:02 PM on February 12, 2009


My mom grew up in Clarence and I still have family in Williamsville, which is pretty much just down the road a bit. This is hitting close to home.
posted by dhammond at 11:07 PM on February 12, 2009


I'm a few miles away, and several folks I know heard/saw the crash... very sad and depressing.

Myself and other Buffalo-area Twitter users are documenting news as we get it with the Twitter hashtag #ClarencePlaneCrash. A few local indy-media resources are on the scene and some other folks are near the scene, and it's being distilled very quickly and spread on the web.
posted by cvp at 11:10 PM on February 12, 2009


Many, many short-haul regional airlines use it for short trips, including Horizon Air and Alaska Air in the Pacific Northwest.

Whoa, by the shape of the prop housing and looking at the Q400 website, I think I was on one (I noticed it had brand new leather seats, and usually Horizon/Alaska's prop planes are pretty old).
posted by mathowie at 11:12 PM on February 12, 2009


Twitter results for the hashtag.
posted by mathowie at 11:13 PM on February 12, 2009


Hmm, and just a few days ago I was hoping Porter Airlines would extend their Q400 service to Boston. Makes you think twice, especially since Porter operates out of Toronto Island Airport, which has short runways and a tricky approach.
posted by Krrrlson at 11:13 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Very common short-haul airplane, yes. I have been on at least a hundred Dash-8's.

Not that there's anything special there, I don't think. The most common airplane models will, statistically, probably crash the most.
posted by rokusan at 11:25 PM on February 12, 2009


If it was a problem with the landing gear, it would have caused a problem when landing, right?
posted by delmoi at 11:36 PM on February 12, 2009


I don't think it was icing. I know that there were icing conditions, but the descent was just too sudden. If it was anything weather related, I would guess wind shear. The wind was absolutely brutal all day.

The Dash 8 Q400 has a history of landing gear issues, but if this was the case here, then they would have at least made the runway. It could be some other form of hydraulic failure, which would limit the steering.

The altitude was so low, whatever occured they pilots would have had only seconds to react. It might take a full scale investigation before we know for certain.
posted by jnaps at 11:46 PM on February 12, 2009


I just flew out of BUF 2 days ago. They've been having serious wind storms there the past 48 hours or so.
posted by obloquy at 11:55 PM on February 12, 2009


If it was a problem with the landing gear, it would have caused a problem when landing, right?

My point was that the aircraft has a history of mechanical failure, usually due to faulty maintenance.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:01 AM on February 13, 2009


Love the blog post re how this affect airline stocks. This one crash proves that air travel is more dangerous than anything! And the Hudson crash is brought up as if the biggest contributor to airline stock declines, never mind ongoing airline fiscal problems and now the financial crisis and credit crunch on top of that.

Planes are so dangerous? The threat they pose to your life is so dire? I know better, having recently broken my right arm while putting tarp over a scooter. If that bbq smoker would have been positioned a little further over to the west, maybe I would have hit my head on it and died. And goodness knows what would have happened to bbq/outdoor grilling supply and tarp stocks then.
posted by raysmj at 12:04 AM on February 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hey I was just watching Donnie Darko, what a riot.

Oooooh maybe I don't think running out and filming a plane crash is appropriate, or that running back inside to upload it to youtube is appropriate. No, it's the actual tragedies of the contemporary world are clearly inappropriate. Only Networks should be allowed to administer that kind of Harsh Reality to us in video form. Video... it's so, vulgar, by nature, isn't it? Yes, only the Networks. Perhaps 60 Minutes - long form journalism is the fairest and wisest filter. Everything else is just inappropriate, even if completely legal and manifestly extant in our culture, we should really be more... is..."discrete" a nicer way to put "reactionarily puritanical and willfully naive?"

Some people have PTSD, I suppose. That makes these things harder. I've been there. Plus I'm a weepy little bitch about everything anyway. I know from getting upset. See what happens out there, in any case? You can fight or you can fly. But let's not prescribe which, socially.

My thoughts and emotions go to Buffalo now, and to the person who shared what he saw as well.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:20 AM on February 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


heh.

Fight:Flight::Click::Don'tClick

and on review

OH SHIT A DASH 8? Get outta here. Not so QUIET when it crashes, is it?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:26 AM on February 13, 2009


It's a link to a page with the same information as the first link. The only reason he linked to the last link was for the video the website linked from youtube. It's below the first video. I don't think internet rubbernecking and watched the burning grave of 49 people is appropriate.

-- MaryDellamorte


The only reason why I linked to the site that had the information, along with the YouTube link, was to show people that it actually happened. A few days after the Hudson river crash, no less. I wasn't planning on rubbernecking or watching the grave of 49 people dying as appropriate.
posted by hadjiboy at 12:33 AM on February 13, 2009


I haven't even dared seeing the Video yet, Ambrosia, but it sounds quite ghastly the way you've described it. Damn, poor people.
posted by hadjiboy at 12:35 AM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Air traffic control chatter in the minutes after Colgan 3407 lost contact with Buffalo. There is initially confusion as to where the aircraft is and other pilots are asked if they can visually locate the plane.
posted by arnicae at 12:41 AM on February 13, 2009


Adding to the tragedy, it's also being said that 3 Indians were amongst the dead as of now.
posted by hadjiboy at 1:45 AM on February 13, 2009


..........
..........
..........
..........
.........
posted by brevator at 2:32 AM on February 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


What airlines use the Dash 8?

Air New Zealand.
posted by rodgerd at 2:53 AM on February 13, 2009


Hadjiboy, how does the ethnicity or nationality of the passengers "add" to the tragedy at all? What if it was three Greenlanders?
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:12 AM on February 13, 2009


The way it adds to the tragedy, is, that more people over here are going to be affected by it if they were Indian. I'd say the same thing if I was in Greenland I think, or if Greenlander's were like Indian, and they were affected in the plane crash.
posted by hadjiboy at 3:49 AM on February 13, 2009


hadjiboy: I think you mean it adds more empathy from the India community, not tragedy.
posted by sexymofo at 4:18 AM on February 13, 2009


> I think you mean

Rolls eyes. Is this a moment to quibble over semantics?
posted by jfuller at 4:28 AM on February 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Beverly Eckert, an activist 9/11 widow, was aboard.

She was one of the sane ones. Here's a 2004 interview.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:40 AM on February 13, 2009


I know at least one mefite who lives in buffalo. But she's not Indian, so it's cool.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 4:49 AM on February 13, 2009


Video removed due to terms of use violation. WTF?
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 4:50 AM on February 13, 2009


I don't think it was icing. I know that there were icing conditions, but the descent was just too sudden.

Actually, icing could cause a sudden descent. I am no aviation expert, but I do recall that there was a plane crash of a turboprop - NOT this type, rather an ATR - that lost stability suddenly due to icing. The NTSB and the French manufacturer to this day disagree on the cause but US airlines no longer use it where icing is a possibility.

This is a totally different plane, one which was notorious for its vulnerability to icing, but I suppose it shows that icing conditions can lead almost to a "tipping point" where a plane rapidly loses stability.
posted by xetere at 4:54 AM on February 13, 2009


I meant to say that the ATR was notoriously prone to vulnerability to icing, not the DASH-8.

Plus apologies for using "tipping point" in reference to this. Didn't even occur to me that it reads as a tacky pun until just now.
posted by xetere at 4:59 AM on February 13, 2009


.
posted by kalessin at 5:17 AM on February 13, 2009


.
posted by cashman at 5:30 AM on February 13, 2009


Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit posting dots.

.
posted by Poolio at 5:37 AM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


What was the youtube video of, and why was it removed do you think?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:40 AM on February 13, 2009


Horrible.
posted by Dr-Baa at 5:40 AM on February 13, 2009


The audio of the communications between tower and the plane doesn't seem to tell much at all, other than it was approaching and at a low glide...
posted by markkraft at 5:43 AM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


"This video has been removed due to terms of use violation." on youtube now. Just thought I'd mention it, maybe the newspaper article link should come back.
posted by dabitch at 5:48 AM on February 13, 2009


the video was just a few minutes of video shot down a suburban-looking street at a big fire burning behind a house about 300 feet away or so. spooked onlookers, fire trucks, emergency workers. not a lot going on; not sure why it was removed.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 5:52 AM on February 13, 2009


This is a flight that my wife often takes when returning from her company headquarters. Yesterday, she came home on a different, earlier flight and she's home safe with me now. We didn't hear anything about the crash until the phone started ringing off the hook first thing this morning. It's still ringing now. It's kind of strange feeling, because I understand the concern, but accidents are really something that could happen to anyone.

I'm not someone who believes in being blessed or even lucky. But I do keep thinking about what Warren Zevon said about sandwiches. I think it's important to remember that life is fucking short enough, even barring accidents.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 6:10 AM on February 13, 2009 [7 favorites]


From what I've heard on the news, it sounds likely that icing was a factor (maybe not the factor, but definitely a factor). NPR this morning mentioned that the pilot reported mechanical problems before the crash.

Flight Into Known Icing is definitely scary and dangerous if you're not equipped for it. The Federal Aviation Regulations do allow for FIKI if the aircraft is fitted for icing conditions; this usually means heaters, boots, or glycol on the leading edges of the wings and propeller blades. Commercial aircraft (including the Dash 8) are usually equipped for icing, mostly because the airlines would be losing money hand over fist if they couldn't fly in winter.

Icing conditions can be identified with two criteria: 1) ambient air temperature below freezing, and 2) visible moisture. If you're not equipped to handle icing, this essentially prevents you from flying in winter; if you can't get through the clouds to get to the higher altitudes, then you're stuck on the ground.

Flying in the clouds has its own set of challenges and dramatically increases the pilot workload. (Here comes pure speculation:) I would not be surprised if the airplane was either in instrument conditions or transitioning into the clouds, the pilots were busy, and ice built up on the wings before they knew what was going on. Someone with little icing experience will notice (hopefully) that the plane is losing altitude and most likely increase power and try to pull up to maintain straight and level flight, which causes the airplane to stall and plummet to the ground. The other scenario is that the autopilot is taking care of this suicide maneuver while the pilots are busy digging out approach plates and fiddling with the GPS. Either way, if you stall an airplane while it's iced up, there's almost no way to recover.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:11 AM on February 13, 2009 [7 favorites]


sexymofo, thanks for putting into words what I couldn't.

kuujjuarapik, glad to hear your wife's alright and with you now... I think she deserves an extra hug today. Heck, hug her for the rest of your life if you can!
posted by hadjiboy at 6:14 AM on February 13, 2009


Also, the only time I've ever been sure I was going to die was when I flew into icing conditions with my father in the airplane. Worst two hours of my life.

I had my instrument rating for all of four months, flew my father up to Providence from our home in New Jersey for a job interview. We left the night before because there was a storm front coming through, and I hoped it would pass overnight. The next morning, he went to the interview and I hung out at the Providence Mall reading sci-fi in the Barnes and Noble.

This was a few days after Christmas. The front stalled overnight, leaving the entire path from Rhode Island back home blanketed in clouds. I was getting worried, and eventually my dad picked me up and we headed back to the airport. Took off about 1:00 or so, and immediately were in the clouds. I wasn't so worried about the instrument conditions, since I had recently gotten my certificate and I was still pretty fresh on the procedures, but almost immediately I noticed some rime on the wings.

This was brown-pants time. Total panic. Right about this time, too, the autopilot decided it only wanted to turn in circles and the heater broke. Now I'm really busy, trying to fly the plane, manage the radios and instruments, and slowly watch the wings crust over.

My father is watching out the window, placidly.

The saving grace came from a helicopter that was about 10 miles in front of us, also heading in our direction. Whatever he asked for from air traffic control, I did the same. It got me low enough that the air temperature rose above freezing - you could literally watch the ice disappearing as the air hit 32F. We finally broke out of the clouds over NYC, and at about that point all the coffee I had drunk at the mall caught up with me.

I was the only person in the sky over South Jersey when we arrived, and stiff crosswinds were blowing over the runway. I was still working at the airport at that time, so my manager and coworkers (having nothing else to do) watched me bring the plane in. I approached, flared, and it floated... and floated... I actually yelled at it, "Get down!!" and then finally the wheels touched, we rolled to the end of the runway, and I parked in front of the office. Ripped off the seatbelt, bolted from the plane into the building, shouted "Everythingsfinetheplaneisn'tdamaged!" to my boss, and locked myself in the bathroom.

My father had to drive home because I was still shaking. On the way back he asked me, "So... was there something wrong during the flight?"
posted by backseatpilot at 6:24 AM on February 13, 2009 [58 favorites]


Laid off CNN anchor and pilot Miles O'Brien blogs about the crash and icing.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:30 AM on February 13, 2009 [9 favorites]


Western NY weather yesterday was a real mess: snow, sleet, rain, high winds, etc. At the news conference the way they described the crash makes it sound like the plane went into a deep dive straight into the ground. Sounds a lot like what backseatpilot describes.
posted by tommasz at 6:35 AM on February 13, 2009


Laid off CNN anchor and pilot Miles O'Brien blogs about the crash and icing.

CNN let the guy who wrote that go and kept the insipid, chattering morons? Jesus. If CNN ever asks for a bailout I'm going to kick Wolf Blitzer right in the fucking beard.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:42 AM on February 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


.
posted by bitterpants at 6:54 AM on February 13, 2009


Laid off CNN anchor and pilot Miles O'Brien blogs about the crash and icing.

Now that's journalism. And it should be required reading for this thread.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:56 AM on February 13, 2009


And Rick Sanchez. Don't forget Rick Sanchez, the dribblingest, most self promoting moron on TV that's not Fox's morning show.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:57 AM on February 13, 2009


(In line for a kicking, I meant)
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:58 AM on February 13, 2009


Born and raised in the area - went to Clarence High School. If you're watching CNN and see the guy with the Sabres hat on talking about his sister being on the plane - that's my high school friend Chris. It's so weird, I haven't seen him since high school and didn't recognize him at first, but for some reason started crying when they showed his interview. I don't usually do that. Then I found out from high school friends on facebook that it was him.

I am so sorry for Chris' family and all the families that lost loved ones in the crash.

Strange thing is, I also know another person that was killed in a small plane crash outside of Houston last evening.

WTF, world.
posted by misskaz at 7:20 AM on February 13, 2009


What a tragedy.

The icing theory I'm seeing bandied around that has the most credence to me is that the plane may have experienced sudden tail stall.

In broad strokes here are the basics: Under normal flight and loading conditions the wings of an airplane generate positive (upward) lift, however in order to maintain stability the tail 'wing' actually produces a negative (downward) lift. This allows the airplane's center of gravity to be slightly fore of the wing center of gravity and generally contributes to the predictable control of the airplane.

Under normal stall conditions we refer to the main wings losing lift. This usually happens because the angle of air striking the wing surface moves too far out of parameters (usually about 16-17 degrees). For example an airplane descending while pulling the nose up can stall, regardless of speed if the shift in airflow angle is too great. A change in wing shape due to icing can also effectively stall the wing by making it less efficient. When you feel a wing stall it literally feels like the floor drops out from under you. For a wing stall the solution is to re-align the plane to the airflow. This means pushing forward on the yoke and possibly adding power.

A tail stall is different. In this case the air flow over the tail of the plane goes out of design and the tail suddenly is not exerting the proper downward pressure. Think of someone on the low end of a teeter totter suddenly jumping off. It could be caused by ice build-up and can also be triggered by an event that changes air flow in front of the tail on some airplanes (such as lowering wing flaps or changing engine settings), although the tail design on the Dash 8 should resist this. Wind gusts can also produce momentary stalls on wings when airplanes reduce speed. The outcome of the tail stall is that the plane will rotate around the point between the wing lift and the true center of gravity, immediately pitching the nose down. This action actually increases the degree that the tail is out of performance. The recovery is also the opposite, as the yoke needs to be pulled full back and speed reduced to get the tail flying again.

In horrible weather, gusting winds and at only 2300 feet (airport elevation is 728 feet) if a tail stall did indeed happen and caught the pilot off guard it could result in this sort of crash. Unfortunately it will probably be impossible to determine what sort of icing was on the tail in this incident and if this is the cause why the anti-icing equipment didn't adequately address it.

If you listen to the ATC tape you can hear the air traffic controllers acknowledge a later Southwest flight which asks "Are you aware of what we can see on the ground." Keeping fully professional to finish out the shift to get the rest of the flights in safely after being the controller for that flight, I have immense respect for that.
posted by meinvt at 7:48 AM on February 13, 2009


Hmm, and just a few days ago I was hoping Porter Airlines would extend their Q400 service to Boston. Makes you think twice, especially since Porter operates out of Toronto Island Airport, which has short runways and a tricky approach.

I have flown into and out of the Island Airport on a Q400 twice in the last week. It is a short runway by the standards of international airports (which often run ten or twelve thousand feet) but at 4000 feet, it is perfectly adequate for little commuter turboprops, which is exactly what flies out of there. YTZ feels psychologically shorter because of the chilly waters of Toronto Harbour, visible seemingly inches past the end of the runway (but in fact, something over 100 metres further along)

If you want white-knuckling, fly into Connemara in Ireland, where the runway is about 1200 feet. By god, the parking lot would be easier to land in.

The events in Buffalo are tragic, but bear in mind the US has just been through over seven years without a single major plane crash. This streak could not last forever.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:48 AM on February 13, 2009


Here's the flightaware page showing the path. Looks like something went wrong at the very end.
all flightaware paths cut off like that. check out the flights from previous days.

xetere: I am no aviation expert
funny you mentioned that. I was about to point exactly that out. you speculate well enough to become a talking head on cable tv.

there's no way to really know what happened until the final NTSB accident report comes out. anyone else suggesting a cause, even a probable one, is full of shit.
posted by krautland at 7:55 AM on February 13, 2009


Also, I third the motion of reading the Miles O'Brien blog.
posted by meinvt at 7:56 AM on February 13, 2009


How does the ethnicity or nationality of the passengers "add" to the tragedy at all? What if it was three Greenlanders?

There's no handy little rhyme about three little Greenlanders.

(Sorry.)
posted by rokusan at 8:00 AM on February 13, 2009


As a frequent Dash 8 flyer I've always been convinced it's one of the strongest planes around, I read something somewhere once that claimed it had the best glide capabilities of any common commercial aircraft. I'm not sure if this is accurate or not, doesn't matter, to me it is and I in tend on forgetting everything written above.

Dash 8's also have the most fucked up ice surface removal technique ever. Essentially the leading edge of the wing is covered with a black rubber bladder than inflates periodically shattering the ice that's forming on it and letting it blow off. You need at least three scotches before you can sit and enjoy watching it operate throughout the flight. .
posted by Keith Talent at 8:26 AM on February 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


You need at least three scotches before you can sit and enjoy watching it operate throughout the flight. .


Where do you fly that warrants scotch on a Dash 8? I'm lucky if I get a peanut substitute on my two hour flight.
posted by vansly at 8:29 AM on February 13, 2009


.
posted by keijo at 8:33 AM on February 13, 2009


Dash 8's also have the most fucked up ice surface removal technique ever.

Those are called deicing boots. They're used because they're effective and relatively inexpensive, compared to the alternatives. Very common on smaller aircraft. They do require a bit of maintenance to keep in shape, since the rubber has a tendency to dry out and crack.

The other two options are heated pads or glycol. Heaters tend to show up on propeller blades - I'm not too familiar with the technology, but I think you get a lot of the same cyclic fatigue as you do with the boots. Glycol is pretty fun, but it's not designed for FIKI. It's more for emergency measures if you find yourself inadvertently in an icing condition. There's a reservoir of deicing fluid in the airplane (same stuff they spray over the wings before you take off), and this is pumped through thousands of small, laser-drilled holes in the leading edges of the wings and prop. You generally don't carry enough glycol for an entire flight; it's really just to allow you to get the fuck out of dodge before you smear into the ground.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:35 AM on February 13, 2009


I'm a pretty frequent flyer of Dash-8's, having flown every single one in the Western Canada Air Canada Jazz fleet, several times. I have always enjoyed them - roomy, maneouverable, able to zip in and out of narrow moutain valleys and with great short take off and landing capability. Flown a few Q400 and Q100s too.

I have always found the really safe and well flown, and I can't recall a time when a flight was cancelled for mechanical reasons, although it might have happened. The only thing they can't fly in is heavy ground fog in Prince Rupert, or so it seems.

Anyway - with pun in cheek - I give props to the Dash-8 in general. I like them a whole lot better that the CRJ's that Air Canada Jazz is replacing them with, even though the CRJs are faster. Sorry to hear about this accident, of course, but I have to admit I was quite surprised to learn it was a Dash 8.
posted by salishsea at 8:55 AM on February 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


The video is so upsetting and tragic that they're playing repeatedly on cnn...

This sucks for all involved, and their friends and family. Shit, man. What to say...
posted by Jeremy at 8:55 AM on February 13, 2009


Ugh, I've actually been on that flight to Buffalo, and I fly Dash 8s a few times a year. That sucks.

Are turboprops any less safe than jets?
posted by ben242 at 9:06 AM on February 13, 2009


Glycol is pretty fun, but it's not designed for FIKI.

Actually TKS deicing fluid (ethylene glycol, isopropanol, and water) is used in many FIKI certified light planes. But I agree that it's not wise to continue flight in icing conditions even with the stuff.
posted by exogenous at 9:08 AM on February 13, 2009


In 1989 a small cargo prop plane crashed into a house shortly after taking off from Detroit City Airport. The house it hit was almost a mile from where I lived, but we still heard and felt the impact (although we didn't know what it was at first). The upstairs of the house was destroyed and the couple sleeping in their bed killed. Luckily their children were downstairs and escaped with minor injuries. Scary stuff. My heart goes out to those folks in Buffalo.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:23 AM on February 13, 2009


xetere: I am no aviation expert
funny you mentioned that. I was about to point exactly that out. you speculate well enough to become a talking head on cable tv.


Krautland, you are right in that speculation is premature. I am also too freakin' ugly to be a talking head.
My comment is in fact an agreement with you, and was a gentle refutation to an earlier speculation by jnaps that it couldn't be icing. Hence link to the famous Roselawn accident which the NTSB did, in part, blame in icing. Only airliners.net members are allowed to speculate!

But you're right. Nobody knows what happened yet.
posted by xetere at 9:53 AM on February 13, 2009


Does anyone see this thread as in any way equivalent to a miles-long traffic jam caused by rubberneckers at a car crash?
posted by Forrest Greene at 10:02 AM on February 13, 2009


No. I'm getting a lot of information from backseatpilot and others that I don't get from traffic accidents.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:06 AM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am also too freakin' ugly to be a talking head.
no problem, there always is msnbc. :-)

Only airliners.net members are allowed to speculate!
*groan* don't get me started on thems morons.
posted by krautland at 10:13 AM on February 13, 2009


The events in Buffalo are tragic, but bear in mind the US has just been through over seven years without a single major plane crash.

I think you mean two and a half years: the Comair crash in Lexington in August 2006 killed 49 people.
posted by lisa g at 10:44 AM on February 13, 2009


I've been following a couple of threads on another board - run by and discussed by professional pilots. They're all hesitant to speculate about cause for a couple reasons - 1) usually an aviation accident doesn't have a single cause - it's what they call the 'accident chain' which is a series of events that lead to the crash and 2) several of them knew the crew personally and they're really upset. Really, really upset.

One of the older, grayer-headed Captains was also talking about tail stalls and summed it up pretty much the way meinvt did. Might've been that, might not've been. No way to know yet. It will be months before the NTSB releases the final report.

I do know a Q400 Captain pretty well - flies for Colgan - and he's told me that the Q400 is an exceptionally nice airplane to fly. I've been a passenger a few times on one and enjoyed it. The noise reduction really helps.
posted by Thistledown at 10:54 AM on February 13, 2009


Oct, 2007: SAS permanently removes all Bombardier Dash 8 Q400's from its fleet, citing landing gear issues and a decrease in customer confidence in the plane.
posted by Zambrano at 11:04 AM on February 13, 2009


I think you mean two and a half years: the Comair crash in Lexington in August 2006 killed 49 people.

No, I don't. I did not say without a fatality: as well as the Comair crash, there was the US Airways 2003 crash in Charlotte NC that killed 21, and the 737 overrunning the runway at Midway and killing a passenger in a car it collided with, and a number of others. You may parse it as you wish, but in most people's minds "air disaster" tends to equal "major carrier" + "large number of fatalities"
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:32 PM on February 13, 2009


So 49 dead people one this plane (plus one on the ground) is a "large number of fatalities," but 49 dead people on the Comair plane isn't? Granted Continental is a more well-known name than Comair, but I'm going to call them equally tragic.
posted by lisa g at 2:47 PM on February 13, 2009


(And also call them both "air disasters," even if the Comair plane didn't get too far off the ground.)
posted by lisa g at 2:50 PM on February 13, 2009


ricochet, count it how you like personally, but the industry seems to be counting Comair as a commercial flight:

Yesterday’s crash ended a stretch of more than two years without a fatality aboard a U.S. airline flight, the first such run of aviation safety since the dawn of the jet age in the 1950s, according to federal transportation officials.... The last fatal airline accident in the U.S. was Aug. 27, 2006, when a regional jet flown by Delta’s Comair unit crashed in Lexington, Kentucky, killing 49.

But really, no individual flight on 9/11 was over 100 people. I think this is angelology. Two and a half years is an exceptional accomplishment regardless and by necessity an indicator of the lower overall fatality rates of domestic airlines compared both to historical performance and the rest of the world.
posted by dhartung at 3:27 PM on February 13, 2009


ricochet biscuit, I'm not sure what you think the difference between this flight and the 2006 flight was that makes one a disaster and one not; they were both commuter airlines operating for one of the big carriers.
posted by oaf at 3:46 PM on February 13, 2009


I think this is angelology.

Absolutely right. My definition of what constitutes a major disaster is as idiosyncratic as anyone's, and I feel it terribly inappropriate to argue it while fifty funerals are in the offing. I have no more to say.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:15 PM on February 13, 2009


Here's a 23 minute NASA video on tailplane icing. It's creepy how closely the video matches the circumstances of the accident flight, as currently known. That is, a turboprop in icing conditions with pitch oscillations arising after flap deployment.
posted by exogenous at 5:07 PM on February 13, 2009


The co-pilot, Rebecca Shaw, is from the Seattle area.
posted by bz at 6:35 PM on February 13, 2009


After all of that hero worship for the guy who ditched in the Hudson, is there going to be a great public shaming of the pilot who crashed in Clarence?
posted by pracowity at 7:08 PM on February 13, 2009


pracowity: is that what you are hoping for?
posted by krautland at 6:17 AM on February 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is very sad news for me. I was acquainted with Capt. Zuffoletto and Ms. Shaw from frequently flying Colgan Air flights in various parts of the country. They had either flown flights I was on or had been "deadheading" (as Capt. Zuffoletto was) to another airport for work.
posted by SpecialK at 9:54 AM on February 14, 2009


is that what you are hoping for?

I don't think so. No. I'm just wondering about fate and how it makes one guy a hero and another guy just dead.

To me, it looks like one was lucky enough to lose power within glide distance of a big fat river in daylight with rescuers watching from the shore, while the other was unlucky enough to have an iced tail (if that's what it really was) when coming in low over suburbs at night in crappy weather, so that the difference between hitting the talk show circuit and hitting the ground was in large part a matter of fortune good and bad.

And the environment wasn't the only kind of luck in play. The pilot who belly flopped into the Hudson had been flying since he was 14 years old, he had been a glider pilot instructor and a fighter pilot in the air force, he had been flying commercial aircraft for going on three decades, and he was a student of flight crew behavior during emergencies. There must be many pilots with equal amounts of experience, and for a different kind of emergency any one of them might have been good, but this one pilot had exactly the right mix of experience you'd want a pilot to have at that moment in that plane suddenly gliding over the city.

But if you're going to call him a hero for that and give him the credit for saving everyone, what, to be fair, are you going to say about the guy who landed his plane on a house and killed everybody? Maybe he was just another victim of the crash. But he was the guy at the controls.
posted by pracowity at 11:53 AM on February 14, 2009


After all of that hero worship for the guy who ditched in the Hudson, is there going to be a great public shaming of the pilot who crashed in Clarence?

That's pretty unlikely, unless the accident investigation reveals evidence of gross negligence on the pilot's part.

I mean, there are plenty of examples of where we-as-a-society celebrate someone doing something good; without shaming people for not doing the same, for attempting the same without achieving the same results, or for attempting the opposite.
posted by Mike1024 at 4:17 PM on February 14, 2009


Latest news is that the plane was on autopilot when it crashed. That may explain why there was no communication. Looks like they never knew what hit them.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:19 AM on February 15, 2009


Violation of airline policy.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:26 AM on February 15, 2009


But if you're going to call him a hero for that and give him the credit for saving everyone, what, to be fair, are you going to say about the guy who landed his plane on a house and killed everybody? Maybe he was just another victim of the crash. But he was the guy at the controls.

I hear what you're saying but I also just saw this nasa video on tailplane icing. they make it sound like the pilot really has very little chance at influencing where he 'lands' once certain icing situations occur. I'm not saying this happened here but if that's how it went down then I don't know if I would have caught that myself.
posted by krautland at 1:36 PM on February 15, 2009


Interesting video, krautland, especially this part at 9:22, referring to control changes from ice buildup on the tailplane:

It should be noted that if you are flying on autopilot, you would almost certainly miss these symptoms, because you would not get any tactile feedback from the controls.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:56 PM on February 15, 2009


yeah, I wonder if the dash has/uses some equivalent to the a320's full pattern. pprune might know.
posted by krautland at 5:37 PM on February 15, 2009


« Older Ecstasy's long-term effects revealed....  |  Bullied, teased, and in need o... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments