Nolan Law Group: Q400 Turboprops Operated by Colgan Air Need to Be Grounded
one that crashed from in-flight icing need to be barred from operating on
routes where icing is possible.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cannot assure the public that
the airplane has been thoroughly tested before approval for airline service,
that Colgan Air has the training procedures in place to assure that crews can
safely fly in icing conditions, or that a crew of average ability (the FAA
standard) can handle meteorological conditions of less-than-severe icing.
Until answers about the cause of the
definitively provided by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB),
prudence would dictate not flying these aircraft in icing conditions.
“The FAA cannot tell us that this aircraft is safe,” said
has successfully represented many clients injured, killed or widowed by icing
related mishaps. “The crash of Continental Connection flight 3407 (operated by
Colgan Air) is yet another where the air carrier, the industry, and the FAA
resort to comforting blandishments about safety and subsequent revelations
reveal deep concerns.”
The concerns about this latest icing crash are many:
— One factor common to all turboprop icing events is sudden wing drop.
The uneven build-up of ice on areas of the wing unprotected by de-ice boots
may be a factor. Contributing to the danger may be the differential activation
of the de-ice boots. Further, the propwash from two engines rotating in the
same direction can cause ice to accrete unevenly.
— All of which adds up to an airplane vulnerable to stall prior to
reaching published stall speeds or the speed at which lift-producing airflow
over the wings is disrupted.
— Further, the control yoke is equipped with a stick shaker to warn the
flight crew of approach to stall. This critical safety feature likely did not
activate in a timely manner in the Colgan Air crash. If the stick shaker did
not activate soon enough to give the crew an opportunity to prevent a stall,
the warning was therefore untimely and represents a design defect.
— The crew’s correct reaction to stick pusher activation is critical.
Reportedly, stick pusher training was not provided to Colgan Air pilots. If
this is so, the crews are not adequately trained to handle imminent stalls in
icing conditions. Aircraft and crew deficiencies may combine with fatal
— Colgan Air is a new operator of the Dash 8-Q400, which means this is
the first winter operating this model for most of the Colgan crews. The amount
and type of simulator training and periodic updates on operations in icing
conditions is unknown. Other global investigative bodies investigating icing-
related mishaps have documented shortcomings in crew training and awareness.
Until the NTSB investigation is complete, Colgan crews ought not be permitted
to operate this aircraft in icing conditions.
— Most icing-related crashes occur within the conditions prescribed by
the FAA for aircraft certification. This being the case, aircraft are
regularly dispatched to fly in conditions of less-than-severe icing where they
are vulnerable to crashing. For example, the 2005 icing related crash of a
Cessna Citation V business jet on approach to
— For purposes of insuring the safety of the flying public, and until
proven otherwise, we need to assume, as is likely the case, that the
conditions on 12 February were not “severe” icing. Since airplanes have
crashed in icing less than severe, an immediate precautionary halt to
operations by Colgan Air of Dash 8-Q400s airplanes in icing conditions is
necessary to forestall further tragedy.
National Transportation Safety Board added, “The FAA cannot demonstrate the
Dash 8-Q400 can be safely operated by Colgan Air within the airplane’s
certification requirements. For the safety of the flying public, the Q400
turboprops operated by Colgan Air should be barred from operating in icing
conditions. Declaring an operation to be safe, in the absence of conclusive
proof, is not sufficient.”
Nolan Law Group has represented dozens of victims of icing-related crashes
in recent years and has pre-eminent experience in the hazards associated with
inadequate aircraft design and substandard crew training and awareness of ice-
SOURCE Nolan Law Group