Doomed Plane Suddenly Lost Contact - Tower Tapes

February 13, 2009

The commuter plane that crashed near Buffalo, New York, late on Thursday was set to start its approach to land when air traffic controllers suddenly lost contact, control tower communications show.

As the tower called in vain for Continental Connection flight 3407 operated by Colgan Air to respond, one controller asked for help to find out what happened to the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 plane with 44 passengers and four crew on board.

"Colgan 3407. Buffalo Tower. How do you hear?" the controller said.

"This is ground communication. We need to talk to someone at least five miles northeast... either state police or sheriff's department. We need to find out if anything is on the ground," he said.

"This aircraft was five miles out and all of a sudden we have no response to that aircraft."

Another man's voice said: "All I can tell you is the aircraft was over the marker and we're not talking to them now."

The controller then tells other planes the Dash 8 "didn't make the airport."

"Cactus, did you find Colgan?" he says to the cockpit crew of one flight.

"Unfortunately, they said he went down about right over the marker," the crew member responds.

The tape was played on US television networks.

All 48 people on the Colgan flight and one person on the ground were killed when the plane crashed into a house in the Buffalo suburb of Clarence Center and burst into flames.

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