When a Bombardier Q400 crashed near Buffalo in February, killing 50 people, the aircraft came under intense scrutiny. Several other Q400s had had apparent problems, leading Time magazine to ask, “The Buffalo Crash: The Weather or the Plane?” Instead, it seems it was the pilot and co-pilot, based on a chilling transcript of the cockpit recorder released today at a hearing into the crash of Continental 3407. The two of them spent most of the flight chin wagging about their personal lives and future job prospects—a violation of safety rules that ban extraneous talk during descents. And they made flippant comments about the perils of ice accumulation. “I would freak out (if) I would have seen this much ice; and thought, oh my gosh, we were going to crash,” co-pilot Rebecca Shaw said at one point. Yet in the end, investigators believe it wasn’t ice accumulation that brought down the plane, but a decision by the pilot to try to overpower an automatic stall-protection system.
In the end: pilot error
Cockpit recordings from the fatal Buffalo crash are chilling and damning