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