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Continental TurboProp crash inbound for Buffalo

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Continental TurboProp crash inbound for Buffalo

Old 13th May 2009, 16:17
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This accident investigation is exposing the “open sore” that is the current US air transportation system.

You have two weak/inexperienced pilots, commuting in and getting no sleep in a bed for, what? 38 hours? After sitting around the airport all day, they fly into night, IMC, with icing.

As a crew, they make operational mistakes that lead to a “stick-pusher” and they both reacted individually in ways that make the situation worse. Captain pulled the nose up and the First Officer retracted the flaps.

The First Officer’s actions guaranteed a stall and the Captain’s actions pretty much guaranteed a stall. Done simultaneously, it was like committing certain suicide.

When you try to go back and build the chain of events that lead to the crash, you have:
--training programs that guarantee an eventual passing grade
--Windshear escape maneuvers done 3 times per sim check and stall recoveries done zero times
--the cost of a bed in EWR relative to crew salary coupled with a company policy urging them to come in a day prior

Do any other root causes come to prominence among the experienced airline pilots on this forum?

There are red herrings being tossed in by the Board and the media (sterile cockpit, design, flirting, etc). But the reality of this IMHO is the exhaustion of the crews, the weak skill level, and the doubling-down effect of what used to be a rare exception that has now become the norm.

It seems the Board has three audiences it is placating:
Legal liability – who is going to pay the family’s lawsuits?
Public opinion – what is the cause? Now fixes are in place.
Industry – attempting to force change in operating procedures and practices.

R
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Old 13th May 2009, 16:21
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PosRate,

These are pretty words and there may be an ideal world where they apply. In reality the consequences of distraction are too severe to just rely on the assumed professionalism of the pilots. We all know that pilots are for the most part sterling characters, but they are still human.

-drl
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Old 13th May 2009, 16:44
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It's interesting to me that long-range commuting of airline pilots has been around forever. I remember in 1962 doing a magazine story on a captain of the then-fabled TWA Flight 1, I think it was, a TWA 707 that went around the world, Idlewild (then) to Idlewild via a series of major-city destinations. Not the same crew the whole time, of course, but I was surprised to learn, when I flew home with him, that the captain I was writing about lived in Bermuda. Just a short hop from JFK, though, compared to the Pacific Northwest...
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Old 13th May 2009, 17:28
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We all know that pilots are for the most part sterling characters, but they are still human.
I don't think that Capt Renslow was a sterling character. This guy had started his airline career flying for Gulfstream airlines on the B1900. This is an airline where you pay them a huge amount of money for training and work for free. Says quite a bit about him I'd say; what a tool. Perhaps if he'd worked an instructor rather than paying to fly he might have been able to afford to rent somewhere to sleep rather than camping in the crew room. If he'd had a good nights sleep he would probably have remembered to push the power levers forward after dirtying it up.

Colgan Airlines pilots complain about the conditions in their company and not being able to call in sick. Yet when it came to the crunch they voted to reject ALPA membership!
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Old 13th May 2009, 17:57
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IMO

I can in small ways relate to the two pilots of this flight. On the face of it, it looks bad for their final piloting actions. FO retracts flaps without a command, and the PF pulls with seventy pounds on a device that was trying to save the aircraft. On the face of it.

Those two actions, if substantiated, seem to have sealed their fate.

I have experienced challenges flying that were it not for my training, I may have bought it as well. I am a relatively low time retired CPL who no longer flies at 62. It stopped being fun, because my skills lost their sharpness, and I spent too much time on edge. A Human at times needs to be an AP, relying on motor memory, rather than reflection.

Windshear, CAT, Partial Panel loss, etc. We train for the unexpected. The most valuable tool a pilot has at these times, is experience. The class of aircraft here is an extremely complex and challenging machine. I venture to say it is more of a handful than most large pure jets. To command this a/c with 109 hours in type is dismaying; time in a similar type would to me seem a negative rather than a plus. An FO with all her time flying in Arizona seems likewise disturbing in a New York winter.

So much wrong here, certainly not just the flightcrew.

Somewhere between Gray Pelicans making half a mil a year flying Gasoline powered Roundies and green sim-trained AP addicts making 18 thousand there has to be a level of competence that is reasonable on the FD.
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Old 13th May 2009, 18:28
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Fraser, this is profound point you make. I have stopped riding my motorcycle as much as when I was younger because I find my older self behind the curve too often.

Can I ask, what on earth is a "gas powered roundie"?? )

-drl
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Old 13th May 2009, 18:36
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Hey Fair Weather...Take your ALPO cr@p somewhere else...there is no need WHATSOEVER to slam another pilot who can't speak for himself...no matter what YOUR politics are, or what his actions contributed to this accident...

YOU weren't there...however there are many regionals who have ALPO representation and their work rules are much the same as Colgan's...

Think about it...
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Old 13th May 2009, 18:53
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Here's a link to a YouTube copy of the NTSB video (not to worry—works of the U.S. government are not subject to copyright):

YouTube - Colgan Flight 3407 NTSB Animation

Can someone tell me what "Condition" is? Is that like prop pitch or something?

As a mere sim pilot, the thing that struck me as the most alarming was the drop in airspeed. Shouldn't a pilot be watching airspeed all the time? Once the airspeed droppped far enough, lots of bad things happened. If the pilots had observed and maintained airspeed, then the rest could have been avoided, right?
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Old 13th May 2009, 19:02
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Angry Reply

Fair Weather Flyer; I can't say what i would really like to as bad language is outlawed on the forum. The depths some people sink too, you being one are quite amazing. The Captain in question cannot A) Defend himself and B) Just did what hundreds no thousands of young and old pilots are now forced to do in Nth America, Pay for training, training bonds A/B/C scale salaries. This started years ago and continues today with domiciles in locations no one can afford to live so pilots commute to make a living.

If you have something useful and constructive to say by all means otherwise STFU.
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Old 13th May 2009, 19:10
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Low pilot pay at Colgan and other regionals? Skills impact?

My questions to all are

1) How can a co-pilot live off of a salary of $16,200 per year. Colgan in the Washington Post article says Captain pay is between $50,000 and $53,000 but still that is a low living standard. The co-pilot pay is about what a franchise fast food hamburger place manager makes here in Dallas.

"Under questioning from the board, Mary Finnigan, Colgan's vice president for administration, reported that Rebecca Shaw, co-pilot of the crash plane, drew an annual salary of $16,200 a year. The board also said that Shaw once held a second job in coffee shop while working as a pilot for the airline in Norfolk, Va."

2) Does low pay equate to low flight skills? Could a regular regional pilot, take up a simple thing like a glider and earn a FAI silver C badge (1,000m alt gain, 5hr flight duration, 50 Km declared flight), spin recovery, high approaches - 400ft finals over the runway numbers, or fly in a wave's rotor?

washingtonpost.com

Just curious
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Old 13th May 2009, 19:34
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It means "trim condition" i.e. the airplane is flying well inside its envelope and is not subject to large pitching and yawing moments. The autopilot will attempt to trim up until it is overwhelmed or manually disconnected. In that video, we can see that the trim condition suddenly maxes out as he begins his turn at too low an air speed, and as soon as the autopilot disconnects, the upset begins. (Correct me if wrong, I am not a professional pilot.)

-drl
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Old 13th May 2009, 19:45
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Microsleep

I am reminded of a cargo DC8 landing at Guantanamo many years ago...a fatigued crew fell asleep for an instant of time while turning base to final...they crashed...I think they all lived

perhaps for one second, this crew fell asleep...MICROSLEEP they call it, and when they awoke their minds were not in flying mode.
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Old 13th May 2009, 19:47
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Can someone tell me what "Condition" is? Is that like prop pitch or something?
Yes, related to prop pitch.

The condition levers set the propellor speed - which does not directly relate to thrust. When moved forward, the condition levers cause the prop pitch angles to decrease, resulting in an increase in rpm, but no increase in power unless the power levers are also advanced.

As the crew intercepted the LOC, the condition levers were placed full forward in preparation for landing (higher rpm available in case of a go-around.)

As someone noted earlier, the full-forward position of the condition levers with power at idle causes the propellors to function as 13.5' diameter discs -- LOTS of drag -- unless accompanied by an increase in power lever position.

The airspeed decayed pretty rapidly; it was astounding to watch the red bricks of the airspeed tape's low speed cue rise up with no action whatsoever by the pilot.

The power was never increased until after the stick-shaker fired; apparently indicating sudden crew surprise at the loss of airspeed.

Last edited by Zeffy; 13th May 2009 at 23:31. Reason: only grammar..
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Old 13th May 2009, 19:49
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Can someone tell me what "Condition" is? Is that like prop pitch or something?

The Condition Levers in the Dash8 series are something of a "secondary" engine control. When fully aft the fuel is shut off to the engine. The next forward detent is known as "start/feather," and in that position the engines are receiving fuel, so can run, while the propeller blades are lined up fore and aft, or "feathered." When the condition levers are forward of this position, they control the pitch of the propeller blades, from MIN, which is coarse pitch and corresponds to a minimum RPM setting, to MAX (fully forward) with is fine pitch and provides the maximum possible RPM setting.

Putting Condition Levers to MAX with power at Flight Idle produces an amazing amount of drag, which is why the airspeed bled off so quickly.

As an aside, my Dash8 experience comes from two different 100-series operations. In neither one were the condition levers moved in flight without a command from the PF and the action taken by the PM. Seems to me like automatically going Condition Levers MAX as part of the gear down flow is not a good idea - lowers the situational awareness of the PF that they need to adjust power.

Then again, I think the way stall training is done at most airlines including Colgan is a prime cause of this crash. Capt. Renslow probably had flown many, many approaches to stalls with the autopilot off and no trimming below a certain speed, so he would have been used to applying back pressure on the controls (to minimize altitude loss, or even, with some check airmen, lose no altitude) while the stick shaker was shaking. Muscle memory is a powerful thing, and if he applied the back pressure he was used to giving an untrimmed airplane to one that was trimmed to 130 knots while adding 75% power the resulting rapid pitch up is not, in hindsight, surprising. I suspect that once the airplane did not react to him pulling back in the way he was used to, but instead pitched up rapidly into a full stall, his lack of experience left him without the correct pilot instincts to recover. There is some value to being a CFI and doing hundreds of stall recoveries with private pilot wannabes after all!
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Old 13th May 2009, 19:51
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"It means "trim condition" i.e. the airplane is flying well inside its envelope and is not subject to large pitching and yawing moments. The autopilot will attempt to trim up until it is overwhelmed or manually disconnected. In that video, we can see that the trim condition suddenly maxes out as he begins his turn at too low an air speed, and as soon as the autopilot disconnects, the upset begins. (Correct me if wrong, I am not a professional pilot.)

-drl"

Completely wrong, I'm afraid. See above.
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Old 13th May 2009, 20:33
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Learn something new every day!

-drl
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Old 13th May 2009, 21:38
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Desitter,

That was the best made up explanation I have ever seen Ever consider writing fiction novels? you had me convinced and I do know what a condition lever is, I even questioned my own understanding of it.

all in jest
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Old 13th May 2009, 21:56
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Later on, asked if Colgan made cost-of-living adjustments to assist employees who reside in expensive areas such as New York, Harry Mitchel, Colgan's vice president of flight operations, said no program existed for pilots. But, he added that Colgan had such a policy for managers.
Now that's a surprise... not. Again Crew treated like second class citizens whilst the Managers grow fat.
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Old 13th May 2009, 22:07
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interesting take by media

Miles O'Brien - Uplinks - From Sully…to Sullied - True/Slant
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Old 13th May 2009, 22:15
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I don't have the time to read all of the posts---BUT
This one is simple. A bad pilot making a big mistake.
Low time--incompetent--tired.
How many checkrides do you fail before you are ****canned??
ALPA is the biggest part of this problem..They enjoyed the competition for "mainline"routes between the regionals and the majors for years. These are the same assholes who fought the age 60 rule because of "safety concerns"
Give it up--admit it--this accident was going to happen.
If things don't change, it will happen again, and again
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