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Fri, Feb 13, 2009

NTSB: 'Severe' Oscillations Recorded Moments After Flaps Lowered On Flight 3407

Crew Discussed 'Significant' Ice Accretion On Wings, Windscreen

ANN REALTIME UPDATE 02.13.09 1630 EST: The flight data recorder recovered from the wreckage of Continental Connection flight 3407 has revealed a series of "severe" pitch and roll oscillations moments after the flight crew lowered 15 degrees of flaps to configure their Bombardier Q400 turboprop for landing, NTSB member Steven Chealander disclosed during a Friday press conference.

Both the FDR and cockpit voice recorders were recovered in surprisingly good shape, and are now being analyzed by Board investigators in Washington, DC. Chealander said a prelminary analysis of the last 30 minutes of voice and flight data recovered from the recorders indicated the following timeline of events:

  • At 30 minutes prior to the end of the recording, the flight crew briefed on the ILS approach to runway 23 at BUF, and destination weather. The crew also discussed their current visibility conditions flying at 16,000 feet, reporting 3 miles visibility in light snow and mist;
  • Commenting on restricted ("hazy") visibility at FL160, the pilot requested and was granted permission to descend to 12,000 feet. ATC cleared the aircraft to 11,000 feet soon after;
  • The flight crew activated airframe deicing systems, and discussed "significant" ice buildup on the windscreen and leading edges of the wings on the descent;
  • The pilot put the landing gear down one minute prior to the end of the recording, and selected Flaps 15 degrees 20 seconds after deploying the gear;
  • The flight director recorded a series of "severe pitch and roll excursions" seconds after the flaps were lowered. The crew apparently attempted to retract landing gear and flaps before the aircraft impacted.

The Q400 is equipped with pneumatic deicing boots on the leading edges of the wings, horizontal stabilizer, and vertical stabilizer.

Chealander warned the investigation has just begun, and it's too soon to draw any conclusions about what brought down the aircraft with 49 people onboard. "We're not ruling anything in, or anything out," he told reporters.

Previous Report

1200 EST: National Transportation Safety Board investigators have recovered both the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder from the wreckage of Continental Connection Flight 3407, which impacted a western New York home Thursday evening while on approach to land at Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF).

The NTSB will hold a briefing at 4:00 pm EST Friday to release further details of the accident, which claimed the lives of all 49 persons onboard the Bombardier Q400 turboprop and at least one fatality on the ground.

Witnesses say the aircraft impacted the home at a steep, left-wing down attitude. Fire consumed the wreckage but for the aircraft's empennage section, which contained the CVR and FDR.

We will follow this story throughout the day and provide updates as more information becomes available. Aero-News joins with others in expressing our deepest sympathies for the friends and families of the victims of this accident.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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