Colgan Crash Hearing Opens

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The early speculation surrounding the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 in Buffalo in February appeared to look for anomalies, like wing or elevator ice that would make the Dash 8 with 49 people aboard suddenly become uncontrollable, but there was always an undercurrent in the forums and chat rooms that it was just as it appeared a stall-spin accident. The latter theory appears to be where the evidence is headed in an NTSB hearing that covered the moments leading up to the crash, which killed everyone on board and one person on the ground. According to CBS's account of the proceedings. When the ice-laden aircraft approached a stall, the stick pusher activated, and the reaction of Capt. Marvin Renslow was to pull back, flipping the airliner over into an unrecoverable spin. "Obviously the initial reaction to the stall warning was incorrect. That set the course of action for what followed," Wally Warner of Bombardier, the airplane's manufacturer, told CBS. A confounding factor was the fact that neither of the pilots, Capt. Marvin Renslow and FO Rebecca Shaw, had any demonstration or simulator training with the stick pusher because the FAA doesn't require it. The airline made a point of saying the pilots had "all the training and experience required" by the FAA to take the flight.

The hearing also looked at the potential fatigue factor (something Colgan has rejected), noting that Renslow had spent the previous night in a crew room (violating company policy) and that Shaw had a cold and had arrived for her flight on a red eye the night before. The hearing will continue today and Thursday.