This morning’s horrific tragedy in Buffalo is deservedly occupying the attentions of many Flight editorial staffers right now. I’ve pushed out a couple initial pieces about the Colgan Q400 crash for ATI and Flight, as has safety specialist David Kaminski-Morrow.
Here are some key facts from Bombardier this morning:
1) The accident aircraft was delivered in April 2008.
2) A total 220 Q400s have been delivered to date, which have logged more than 1 million flying hours and 1.5 million takeoff cycles without a fatal accident.
3) This is the first fatal Q400 accident.
4) Bombardier is not speculating as to whether icing played a role in the crash.
5) Over 160 Q400s are currently in operation among 20 operators around the world.
Flight Americas Editor John Croft is picking up the story henceforth today. For further analysis and information about the Colgan Q400 crash, I urge you to check out Croft’s forthcoming news posts as well as information and analysis on his new appropriately-titled blog, As the Cro(ft) Flies. His most-recent entry studies the Colgan turboprop’s final approach chronology. There is a lot to take in here, but here are some key pars:
Icing, always a concern for commuter aircraft in winter weather, was reported on the approach (a Delta Airlines flight approaching the airport after Colgan 3407 reported picking up ice from 6,500ft down to 3,500ft during the approach. A departing aircraft also asked Buffalo controllers for a continuous climb to 10,000ft in order to quickly pass through the icing layer.
Investigators will invariably explore whether a configuration change or change in autopilot status may have caused an abrupt upset to the aircraft, an event that would have been picked up by the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, assuming the devices survived the crash. Officials at the crash site reported very little lateral damage in the area, indicating a steep vertical descent.