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Pilots Blamed by Employer for Buffalo Plane Crash

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Washington, DCA devastating plane crash that killed 50 and devastated a suburb near Buffalo last February is still under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The company that employed the crew of the doomed aircraft now alleges that the pilots were responsible for the accident.

The crash of Flight 3407 took the lives of all 49 persons in the plane and one on the ground. Early speculation centered on weather conditions and the potential for ice accumulation.

Now, a 67-page report issued by Colgan, the operator of the plane, points to the crew's loss of situational awareness and failure to follow training and procedures.

Unbeknownst to the crew, the Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 turboprop had descended into an aerodynamic stall while on approach under autopilot. When a stall was imminent a "stick-shaker" warning device triggered automatically, instantly alerting the crew.

Under normal circumstances a pilot attempting to generate more lift will nose the plane down by pushing the stick forward in an effort to gain airspeed. However, Renslow pulled back on the stick, which would have nosed the aircraft up, virtually guaranteeing a stall.

The plane dropped straight down onto a house.

Colgan, which submitted the report to the NTSB, noted that Renslow had failed three prior "check-ride" pilot tests. Those failures, according to the report, had occurred prior to Renslow joining Colgan. However, Renslow had only acknowledged one failure in his job application. The pilot is said to have failed two additional check-rides after he secured employment from Colgan.

Colgan maintained that its hiring practices are rigorous but that Renslow was not truthful in his application. Colgan also challenged any allegation that the crew may have been tired. Renslow had a 27–hour break between flights, and Shaw had four days off, according to the report.

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), in a separate submission, did not discount the role of the pilots but said the "fundamental training this crew needed for the situation faced the night of the accident was inadequate." ALPA further noted that the Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 aircraft did not have, nor was required to have, systems that would have alerted the pilots that the airspeed was abnormally low.

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