Plane that crashed near Buffalo plummeted flat onto house and was on autopilot

February 15, 2009

(ChattahBox) -– There have been some new developments in the commuter plane that crashed near Buffalo. The National Transportation Safety Board said the plane that crashed on Thursday night, killing 50, plummeted flat onto a house in suburban Buffalo seconds after two automatic systems told the pilot that it was not moving fast enough to stay in the air, and that it was facing away from Buffalo Niagara International Airport, where it was to land. Also the preliminary investigation indicates the autopilot was still on when the plane crashed. That has not been confirmed by information from the plane’s flight data recorder though.If the plane was on autopilot when it went down in icy weather, it could indicate that the pilot was in violation federal safety recommendations and the airline’s own policy for flying in such conditions, a federal official said Sunday. Pilots are required to fly manually in severe ice. The pilots of Continental Flight 3407 discussed “significant” ice buildup on their wings and windshield just before crashing into a home Thursday night in a suburban neighborhood near the Buffalo airport. Forty-nine people aboard the plane were killed, as well as the homeowner.

At an afternoon news conference Steven Chealander, a member of the safety board, gave a description of the wreckage that contradicted eyewitness accounts of a nose-dive. “You may be able in a manual mode to sense something sooner than the autopilot can sense it,” Chealander told The Associated Press in an interview, explaining why the NTSB also recommends that pilots disengage the autopilot in icy conditions.

He added that both the plane’s engines had been recovered. He said there was no indication yet that the de-icing systems were not operating when the plane went down, killing all 49 people aboard, and one man inside the house in Clarence Center. He said it was not yet clear exactly when the pilot on Flight 3407 turned on the plane’s advanced deicing system.


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