Federal Investigators Probe Cause of Continental Plane Crash That Killed 50 People

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration are trying to determine the cause of last Thursday’s deadly plane crash that killed all 49 people onboard the plane and another victim on the ground. Continental Connection Flight 3407 crashed into a Buffalo, New York home before bursting into flames. This is the first deadly aviation accident involving a commercial airliner in the United States in over two years.

Two areas of focus for investigators appear to be the icing on the plane and the aircraft’s autopilot. Right before Thursday’s plane crash, other aircrafts in the area reported icing problems. Now, some people are questioning whether the plane should have been on autopilot in such icy conditions, especially as some experts believe that activating a plane’s autopilot can make it hard for pilots to gauge the seriousness of icing conditions.

Just this December, the NTSB talked about how ice, as little as ¼ inches, can have a deadly effect on a pilot’s ability to handle the plane. The NTSB also explained that while activating the plane’s autopilot can minimize the impact of the plane’s icing, it could cause pilots to becoming too confident. The agency suggests activating the plane’s de-icing systems as soon as icing occurs. Also, according to CBS News, turboprop planes are involved in the majority of ice-related accidents. However, on Monday, an NTSB member cautioned about assuming that icing is what caused the plane crash until the investigation was complete.

Another factor that is under investigation is the pilot experience of Capt. Marvin D. Renslow, who had just completed training on a Dash 8 less than three months before. Renslow had accrued 110 hours in the turboprop’s cockpit-compared to Capt. Cesley Sullenberger, the pilot who was able to land US Airways Flight 1949 on the Hudson River in January, who had logged in some 20,000 hours.

Commercial Airline Accidents
Any kind of deadly aviation accident is always a catastrophe-and one that is further magnified when there are multiple victims. The more deaths there are, the greater the numbers of family and friends that will undoubtedly be impacted by the losses. If you’ve lost a family member in a plane crash, you may be entitled to wrongful death compensation.

Pilot Experience Eyed In Flight 3407 Probe, CBS News, February 17, 2009
Continental Flight 3407 reported ‘significant icing’ before crash that killed 50, The Buffalo News, February 17, 2009
Icing Played Down in Buffalo Crash, New York Times, February 19, 2009
50 Dead in Plane Crash Near Buffalo, N.Y., The Street, February 13, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Continental Airlines

National Transportation Safety Board

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