Officials Confirm 49 Fatalities Onboard Aircraft, Reports Of
One Victim On Ground
REALTIME UPDATE 02.13.09 0900 EST: The National
Transportation Safety Board has dispatched a Go Team to investigate
the crash of a turboprop airliner Thursday night near Buffalo,
At approximately 10:15 pm (EST) Thursday, February 12, a
Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 twin-engine turboprop airplane, registration
N200WQ, operated by Colgan Air, Inc., as Continental Express flight
3407 from Newark, NJ, crashed into a house during an instrument
approach to Buffalo International Airport.
Officials have now confirmed all aboard the aircraft -- 44
passengers, two pilots, two flight attendants, and one off-duty
pilot, according to CNN -- lost their lives. There is a report of
at least one ground fatality, with some reports stating that victim
was inside the home struck by the plane.
NTSB Senior Air Safety Investigator Lorenda Ward will serve as
Investigator-in-Charge of the team comprising approximately a dozen
NTSB investigators. NTSB Member Steven Chealander is accompanying
the team and will serve as principal spokesman for the on-scene
The Federal Aviation Administration, Colgan Air, and the Air
Line Pilots Association will be parties to the NTSB's
investigation. The aircraft and engines were manufactured in
Canada, and the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada has
appointed an Accredited Representative who will arrive on scene
today along with technical advisors from TSB, Bombardier Aerospace
and Pratt & Whitney Canada.
One witness who was among the first to report the crash to 911
told CNN the plane came down "nose down, left wing low," and
impacted a single home in a congested neighborhood. Homes on either
side of the accident site suffered slight damage from the impact
and resulting fire.
Early speculation in the media (and it should be stressed that's
ALL it is at this point - speculation) has focused on the
possibility the accident aircraft was carrying significant ice from
the descent, and the effects ice could have on the flight
characteristics of the aircraft as it changed configuration --
flaps down, landing gear extended, etc.
Witness reports to national media indicate Continental Connection
Flight 3407 impacted a home near Buffalo, NY in a near-vertical
attitude Thursday night. At this time, firefighters are still
working to contain the post-impact fire.
Local officials have confirmed one fatality on the ground. At
this time, there remains no official confirmation of fatalities
onboard the airliner... though it seems unlikely any of the 44
passengers and four crew would have survived what appears to have
been an extremely violent impact.
ATC recordings streamed by
liveatc.net (MP3 audio) reveal no apparent
warning prior to the accident. The last recording sent from the
accident flight was confirmation of the switch from approach
to the tower frequency at BUF; the female pilot's tone of voice
sounds rushed, though not necessarily any more so than is usual
while on an ILS approach in busy airspace.
The approach controller attempted to contact 3407 several
times after, with no success. He then advised ground crews, "We
need to find out if anything is on the ground... all I can tell you
is aircraft over the marker and we're not talking to him now."
The accident aircraft impacted in the vicinity of the KLUMP
Initial Approach Fix, 4.4 nautical miles from the threshold of
Runway 23 at BUF.
A Delta Air Lines flight in trail of the Colgan aircraft
reported light icing from 6,500' through 3,500'. At least two other
airliners in the vicinity also reported rime icing in
the minutes following the accident.
The controller also asks other pilots in the area if they
noticed any discrepancies with the localizer, after an MD88
reported fluctuations at around 1,500 feet. No error indications
with the localizer were noted by the tower.
ANN will update this story with the latest information
available at 0900 EST Friday.
0001 EST (UPDATED THROUGHOUT THE HOUR): A
Bombardier DHC-8-400 turboprop operated by Colgan Air as a
Continental Connection flight crashed into a home in Clarence
Center, NY Thursday night, as the aircraft approached Buffalo
Niagara International Airport (BUF).
Continental Connection Flight 3407 inbound from Newark,
NJ reportedly impacted the home at 10:20 pm local time
Thursday. The FAA has confirmed 44 passengers and four
crew were onboard the turboprop airliner.
Reports so far paint a grim picture as for survivors. The
Buffalo News reports all persons onboard the airliner were lost in
the crash, with one additional fatality on the ground... although
that has not been confirmed by officials.
"We have multiple fatalities," said Dave Bissonette, emergency
coordinator for the town of Clarence Center. CNN reports two
persons on the ground were transported to an area hospital with
According to METAR information from BUF, light snow showers
and 3 miles visibility were reported in the area at the time of the
accident. Strong winds had delayed a number of flights throughout
the northeastern US throughout the day Thursday.
CNN reports the accident site is approximately five miles from
Runway 23 at BUF. Officials are unaware of any distress call from
the airliner prior to the crash; the last radar return showed the
aircraft at 5,300 feet MSL at 207 knots, according to tracking data
As ANN reported, Colgan launched Continental
Connection service from Newark in early 2008, operating a fleet
of fifteen 74-seat Bombardier Q400s. The regional
airline announced a follow-on order for 15 more
aircraft last month.
Colgan was purchased by Pinnacle Airlines Corp. in January