NTSB Looks For Lessons In Colgan Dash-8 Crash

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The crew of the Colgan Air Dash-8 that crashed in Buffalo, N.Y., in February violated the FAA's sterile-cockpit rule, which mandates no extraneous conversation while flying below 10,000 feet, according to evidence released this week during an NTSB hearing in Washington, D.C. In the final moments of the flight, the captain and first officer were talking about their prior experience with icing, as the airplane slowed and approached a stall. When asked by a board member if the crew could have recovered safely, Colgan's head of pilot training Paul Pryor replied simply: "Yes." Wally Warner, of Bombardier, also told the panel that the crew had not reacted properly. "Obviously the initial reaction to the stall warning was incorrect. That set the course of action for what followed," he said. The safety board convened the three-day hearing to examine the evidence that has so far been collected in its investigation of the crash, in which all 49 on board and one person on the ground were killed. No conclusions were drawn about the cause of the accident, since it is only three months into what is probably a yearlong effort, but the evidence that has been collected so far was shared and testimony was heard from experts and witnesses.

The board released a video animation of the last two minutes of the flight, as well as the transcript from the cockpit voice recorder. Also posted online is video of each day of the hearing as well as a long list of documents, including transcripts of interviews with check airmen from the airline, and checklists and operational data about the airplane. The hearing will conclude on Thursday.