Better Safe than Iced

When looking at track records, the biggest question of safety in the Bombardier Q400 seems to be the failure of the landing gear to retract. Airworthiness directives in the archives refer to this issue as “fatigue failure of the nose landing gear electrical harness” although when gear retraction failed in 2007 on a Scandinavian Airlines plane, the cause of the failure was described as “hydraulics actuator top eyebolt was separated from the actuator.”

Of course in the Buffalo Crash, the landing gear issue did not come into play.

Significant icing may have been THE problem. It may have been icing that crippled the plane, period. It may have been a salvageable situation. It may have been a crisis situation that nine out of ten pilots could have handled–or 1 in 100.

Or it may have been one of several factors.

The Buffalo flight apparently slowed enough to lose lift.

When the stall-warning system angled the plane’s nose down to regain speed, instead of following the proper procedure–lowering the nose to get out of a stall–the captain pulled back on the controls and added power.

Pilot training is being discussed as a factor in the crash. Or was it as James Fallows postulates a “tailplane stall?”

Nasa Tailplane Stall Video

However speculation about what happened is simply a logical exercise. The NTSB investigation is ongoing as the FBI, NTSB, and FAA examine the flight data and the world waits for an answer. What is not a logical exercise is allowing Bombardier Q400s to continue flying in icy conditions when there are two issues that need addressing:

Icing.

Training.

At the very least, Bombardier Bombardier Q400s should be grounded in icy weather until the results are out.

About George Hatcher

These days I am still working with lawyers. I consult in various aspects of personal injury, wrongful death litigation cases, such as Toxic Litigation, Crisis Management and of course, Air Disaster litigation. The lawyers I work with are top quality "Super" lawyer firms (if you will pardon a little industry jargon) whose names you would recognize if I were to drop them here. We deal with issues regarding the cumulation of the investigation of aviation accidents and the judicial process. Concerns include culpability, insurance, liability, safety and the lack thereof . Many of the cases that I work with involve cross-border civil litigation, and include cases such as Air France Flight 447 where locally (as in France) criminalization is also part of the legal mix. The industry is working toward developing a legally defensive safety management system, and still working out processes between air accident investigation and the judiciary which conflict in various courts. I offer my clients my experience and the experience of my experts regarding proceedings in air accidents. How did a guy who is not a lawyer end up running a management consulting firm for lawyers? For decades I was an independant consultant for the Law Offices of Ed Masry, starting with the founder, Edward Masry in 1967. When Masry & Vititoe was formed 32 years ago, I continued consulting in the same capacity. In 1987, I spent a year writing and developing some law firm management programs that even today are still running the office. If the name seems familiar to you, it is because Masry & Vititoe is the law firm portrayed in the Academy Award winning film “Erin Brockovich”. 20 years in two sentences--there's a lot of experience covered in those two lines.
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