Q400 Pitched Up 31 Degrees Before Crash

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The crew of the Bombardier Q400 that crashed in Buffalo on Thursday got a stall warning and the stick pusher engaged but still the aircraft pitched upward 31 degrees before turning almost 180 degrees and dropping onto a house in the Buffalo suburb of Clarence Center, near the outer marker for Buffalo Niagara International Airport. The sequence of events, which included a 45-degree dive with a 106-degree right bank ended 26 seconds later in the fireball on the ground, killing 49 people on the plane and one on the ground, the owner of the house. Although icing continues as a theme in the investigation, reporters were told at an NTSB press briefing on Sunday that the aircraft's anti-icing system had been on for most of the flight and, while both pilots discussed the "significant" icing their aircraft was experiencing, at no time did they use the "severe icing" descriptor that is the official notification of flight-threatening buildup. "We don't know that it was severe icing," NTSB member Steve Chealander told reporters. "They [the crew] didn't say that it was severe icing....The weatherman didn't say that it was severe icing."

Initial reports suggested the aircraft, flying as Continental Connection Flight 3407 dove on the house but later reports said it crashed in a flat attitude. According to data released at the press conference, the last radar hit showed the aircraft with a forward speed of only 100 knots and it lost 800 feet in five seconds. The autopilot was on for part of the sequence and the engines were set to full power just before impact.