FlightAware Discussions

BREAKING NEWS - Dash 8 Crash in Buffalo


He absolutely did the “wrong thing”! And there’s was a smoking hole in the ground and lives lost to show for his, and her, failure.

The NTSB has stated that icing was not a factor. The CVR transcript doesn’t indicate any cognizance of a tail-plane icing control issue. And if the loss of control had been been the result of a tail-plane stall the AOA system would not have reached an angle that activated the shaker/pusher. A tail-plane stall causes the loss of horizontal stabilizer effectiveness and a resultant nose down pitching moment. A condition which the AOA system is not designed to measure. That’s why the proper recognition of a tail-plane stall is so critical, because normal stall warning and prevention measures so not address it.

This is a classic loss of situational awareness and aircraft control resulting from the failure to recognize and correct the loss of airspeed during configuration for landing. And because of the loss of SA the captain improperly reacted to the system safeguards designed to lead the way.

The whole event is deeply saddening. Niether crew member was paying attention to what the airplane was doing, and it was right in front of their faces. Ugh, it’s just maddening…on so many levels. All “I” can do is absorb this tragedy and do my best not to let something like this happen on my watch.


I agree with you completely on the cause of this. They were chit-chatting and the autopilot captured the set altitude and the PF didn’t bring up the power and PM didn’t notice. They may have had there heads looking out the window looking for ice or up their behinds, who knows.
I do have one question though: If the autopilot is on, then how would the CVR indicate any cognizance of a tail-plane icing issue. Wouldn’t that go unnoticed until they stalled it and the autopilot kicked off?


I mentioned the CVR transcript as an indicator that during their discussions of the ice that was acreting on the airframe, the thought of a tail-plane ice control issue didn’t enter into the conversation.

One of the factors that makes tail-plane icing so critical is that it’s difficult to recognize. Unlike a main wing stall, it can be happening without a degradation of airspeed or change in AOA. When it happens pitch control is lost and the aircraft pitches down. If the AP is engaged, it will hang on until the servos reach their force limits and then the AP disengages…ala Roselawn.


Personally if I were in a booted airplane I would just assume that anything on the tail was at least as bad as what I could see on the wings.



Where has this been said?

Everything thus far I have read is that both the pilot and co-pilot report an accretion of ice per usatoday reference and extract of the CVR

ntsb.gov/Pressrel/2009/090508b.html says icing effects will be talked about.

usatoday.com/news/washington … sday_N.htm says a formal finding won’t be expected for moths.

Good chance that all the information that is out there, that I haven’t come across what you say above.


It’s been stated by the NTSB in several previous press release updates over the course of the investigation. But most recently…

The NTSB has said the plane wasn’t significantly affected by icing.

from the 5/11 WSJ article. The last sentance of the first paragraph below the “Mistaken Assumption” header.


Okee dokee, also finally found it on the NTSB site too. “Control F” does wonders had I done this before posting… :wink:




cnn.com/2009/US/05/14/buffal … index.html

Fresh from cnn. Question to all the flight crew, I know because I work for FX that crew members jumpseat ALL the time on our flights or other airlines to get to and from work. They are making a big deal about the fact the f/o flew from SEA-MEM-EWR…I’m sure she got some sleep. I can remember seeing crew jumpers out of IAD asleep before the doors closed for push…does anyone see this as a huge issue? Or is this just another bad spin put out there by the press? I get it a crew is required a certain amount of rest…but anyhoo I’ll shut up and wait to get my education :wink: 8)


From another forum, sums it up perfectly:

The factual reports do indeed point to some probable causes. To whit:

The captain had difficulty with training in the past which suggests some weaknesses in his capabilities.

The First officer was able but inexperienced.

The crew failed to note a loss of airspeed that appears to correlate to the lowering of the landing gear, which culminated in a stall.

The crew utterly failed to coordinate their actions in the attempted stall recovery - not one word was uttered in the form of a command, yet actions were taken, and those actions may have contributed to worsening the situation to an extent that may have made it unrecoverable.


Very well put sir. Thank you for that bite size summery.


The key word in your question was “some” sleep. She obviously didn’t have enough by riding the Fedex red eye coast to coast. She had several days off prior to her duty start time. She should have paid for a crash pad in KEWR , went there the night before. Yeah it’s bad, but it happens a lot more than people know about and I think that the following link is appropriate here.



I’m pretty sure that in the US, a sports pilot glider pilot can fly with an expired airman’s medical cert (?) as long as they have a valid drivers license :question:

Sounds kinda “John Denver-ish” to me.

I will be getting my student glider permit next month when I start my lessons, but I won’t be able to solo, so I haven’t researched the Canadian Rules for licensing.
Sorry I don’t have more info for you


Hmm, I don’t think any medical is required for the glider rating hence me asking :confused:

Nah, don’t apologize, I am not any better! :stuck_out_tongue:


You’re right, you don’t need a medical to fly a glider. Period. You just have to “self-certify” your health by checking a box on a form.


You can not fly ANY aircraft, including gliders, as a Private pilot if you have ever been denied a medical.

You can not fly a powered LSA plane as a Sport Pilot if you have ever failed a medical as a Private Pilot or above.

However, you can fly an LSA “glider”, which includes some of those powered “self-launching” jobs, as a Sport Pilot by self-certifying your health, the failed medical is not a factor for some reason.

I think this loophole is used primarily by pilots who have previously held certificates and lost their medicals.



The key word in your question was “some” sleep. She obviously didn’t have enough by riding the Fedex red eye coast to coast. She had several days off prior to her duty start time. She should have paid for a crash pad in KEWR , went there the night before. Yeah it’s bad, but it happens a lot more than people know about and I think that the following link is appropriate here.


Classic video :stuck_out_tongue:

Shortly after my Mom passed away, my Dad had a friend post a notice in the crew area(s) at IAD for UA crew looking for rooms to crash…he had a steady rotation of front end and back end through the place while he was still there. He made a good bit of $ off 3 rooms.

He did notice a drop off in female cabin crew after he hung a cam in the bathroom :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: Just messin :stuck_out_tongue: :wink:[/quote]


Just my two cents, did anyone notice in the animation that the speed started to decay when the Props were brought up to max position and the power stayed the same? In the 100/200 Dash 8’s you had to bring the power levers up after putting the props from Cruise (900rpm) to Max (1200rpm) setting! I’m not sure what the prop rpm settings on the 400 are but I will say that if you change a prop setting on most turbo props you have to adjust the power levers as well. I notice a power change (it was advanced) after going flaps 5 and also his airspeed control was a little sloppy. He was in the area of 172kts and then gets as fast as 188 with flaps at 5. Then he calls for gear down and the power is back and the props are advanced to the max position. (22:16:10) In less than 10 seconds they go from 170 to 130 and the shaker comes on. (my training for stalls was max power, pitch to hold altitude minimum, flaps to 5 and gear up at positive rate in the Dash 8 100/200)

With this pilot never seeing the stick pusher in training I am still betting he thought he was in a tail stall! The reason I say this is he called forthe flaps up while still in a stall, flaps usually come up to 5 but not till after the stick shaker has stopped (the Dash 8’s stick shaker usually stops when the power goes to max). In a tail stall the flaps will usually be selected back to the setting prior to tail stall. However in this situation the shaker tells me wing stall and not tail stall but it does not mean this pilot with his lack of experience did not misdiagnose his situation. I know the NTSB said icing was not a factor in this crash and I agree but it does not mean the pilot was not reacting to what he thought was a tail plane stall!

For some reason he was not paying attention to his airspeed after bringing the props to max and he got behind the power curve pretty darn fast. The power is never advanced till after the stick shaker comes on when it should have at least been brought up some after gear/flap and prop adjustments are made. I think most pilots who have flown turboprops will agree with that!

As for the copilot commuting in for her trip, any time not on duty is considered rest! Any time not spent working for the company is considered rest. Does not matter to the FAA where you get yor rest, either in your own bed, hotel bed or an airline seat/jumpseat at 30000 plus feet. Now that does not keep the NTSB from finding she was not fully rested! By the way, FedEx has seats they call jump seats on some of their planes that are airline style seats, they recline so she could have had a few hours of sleep, however not that comfortable!


captnmel66, great to have you back.
Do you have time to give a newbie a couple sentences on the condition indicator in the video? Evidently that’s the “props position” you’re talking about. Does that mean prop pitch? Is “maximum” the position for lower airspeeds, more rotations per mile, and does that give more thrust at a given power setting?


The prop rpm is set to the highest/max (finer pitch, lower angle of attack on the prop blade) position for takeoff and landings so you can get the max power and performance. During cruise the lower rpm setting (the angle of attack is increased on the prop blades, they spin slower, less noise as well) is ued for more fuel efficiency and less power is required as well. Anytiime you change the prop setting from the min position to the max flight position you have to bring the power levers up to produce thrust to over come the lower angle of attack you just set. On the 100/200/300 Dash 8’s anytime you brought the props up from 900 RPM to 1200 RPM you had to bring the torque back up. Does this answer your questions? Hopefully I didnt confuse you.

I will say the Dash 8 is a great plane and was designed really well. This accident goes to show that you have to keep your situational awareness at all times. I would like to know how much of the 110 hours the PIC had was actuall flight time or if that is counting his sim time as well. He should have also had at least 25 hours of IOE with a check airman before being signed off as a captain. During IOE the real captain is the check airman who sits in the right seat to observe the new captain. The new captain has pass the IOE as well, however it is only line flying that they are checking by this time at most airlines.


Thanks, captnmel66. What you said about min and max position looks like the same thing I was thinking. Max position is like a lower gear on a car. At the finer pitch, the RPMs have to come up in order to maintain airspeed.

I’m picturing that an experienced Dash 8 pilot switches the props to max and pushes the throttles up in a single motion (sort of), then automatically glances at airspeed a few seconds later. It seems like this crew didn’t do either of those.


Actually you can get more power out of the engines when the Props are at max. For instance, most of my time is in the 100/200, and in the 100 when you put the props at max (1200) and the power up close to takeoff go around position you had 1800 shaft horse power available where if the props are back at 900 you are only using about 1300 shaft horsepower.

As for the Props being push up to the max position that is done by the non flying pilot when called for by the flying pilot. So yes, the pilot flying usually adds a little power when this happens unless you want to lose a bunch of airspeed fast, then you add the power after you have the speed where you want it. Props are controlled by a set of levers and you can adjust the prop RPM in flight to any setting you want between max and min as well as feather it when the power plant fails.