NTSB: Severe pitch and roll excursions just before Colgan crash

By John Croft

The US National Transportation Safety Board says initial analysis of the recovered flight data recorder on the Colgan Air Q400 that crashed on an instrument approach to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport last night shows that the twin turboprop experienced “severe” pitch and roll excursions after the crew selected 15 degrees of flaps in preparation for landing.

The upset occurred 20 seconds after the crew had dropped the landing gear, an action that generally occurs at the final approach fix, which for Buffalo’s Runway 23 is 4.4nm from the runway end.

Cockpit voice recorder information from the final 30 minutes of flight reveal that the pilots were discussing a “significant” ice build-up on the windshield and wings, the NTSB says.

Prior to making that comment, the flight data recorder showed that the pilots had placed the airframe de-icing system, which is composed of pneumatic (expanding) boots on the leading edges, in the ON position.

Shortly after the upset, the pilots attempted to raise the gear and flaps, just before the end of the recording, officials say.

The NTSB also updated the fatality count to 50, composed to 44 passengers, one off-duty pilot riding in the jump seat and four crew members. There was one fatality on the ground.

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