Pilot error is blamed for last year’s deadly crash near Buffalo, New York, that killed 50 people onboard and one person on the ground. The head of the National Transportation Safety Board says the pilots’ errors show “complacency and confusion that resulted in catastrophe.”
The Continental Connection Flight 3407 was the subject of a NTSB report issued Tuesday, February 2. Unfortunately the events are something we have seen before.
Safety Issues Raised
The safety issues raised by the Buffalo accident are reported industry-wide and point out the gap between the safety of major carriers and regional ones.
Five of the six major crashes involving air travel have occurred among regional airlines since January 2001, reports the NTSB.
At the regional airports, increasingly used to fill the gaps, lower-paid pilots who must commute long distances to work often fly tired as was the case here. Capt. Martin Renfro was coming in from Florida to Newark and his co-pilot flew in the night before from Seattle, where she lived with her parents. She made less than $20,000 a year and was flying fatigued and sick.
Flight 3407 stalled on approach to the Buffalo airport, and in response to the automatic stall warning, the pilot pulled back on the controls instead of pushing them forward to gain speed. Then he pulled back three more times. The NTSB said it was at a loss to explain that action.
In its report the NTSB Office of Aviation Safety issued 25 recommendations.
Among them, reduce unnecessary cockpit conversation.The two pilots had been chattering about snow, ice, and how sick they felt. Avoiding distractions is necessary to give time to go through the standard pre-flight checklist. The co-pilot had sent a text message from the cockpit just before takeoff. Other recommendations include mandating adequate crew rest and increasing training for regional pilots.
The lobbying group for regional airlines, the Regional Airline Association, is not in favor of requiring more hours of experience such as at least 1,500 hours of flight time to be hired.
Regional airlines carry about 160 million passengers a year and as many as 650 communities are served only by regional airlines. If you or a loved one has been injured during a flight by a regional carrier, there are a multitude of questions that must be answered by a Florida aviation accident attorney who has experience with aviation law.