U.S. safety panel wants more action on plane icing
By John Crawley
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. safety investigators have for years pressed regulators to take stronger and swifter action to mitigate the dangerous effects of aircraft icing, a stand prompted by crashes more than 15 years ago.
Icing quickly emerged as a leading possible cause for why a Continental Connection turboprop fell out of the sky in wintry conditions and plunged into a house near Buffalo, New York, late on Thursday, killing all 49 people on the plane and one person on the ground.
While the National Transportation Safety Board investigation of commuter Flight 3047 will take several months at least, records showed the board has been dissatisfied with the Federal Aviation Administration's response to four of its icing-related safety recommendations, one dating to 1996.
The safety board issued a safety alert last December based on one of the two outstanding icing-related recommendations that it made to the FAA in 2007.
That one would require crews to activate anti-icing systems or rubber "boots" designed to break up accumulated ice on the leading edge, or front, of the wings once a plane enters icy conditions, unless there is a specific instruction from the manufacturer not to do so.
Safety board investigators in Buffalo said on Friday that "black box" recordings showed the crew of Flight 3407 commented on ice buildup on the windshield and the leading edge of the wings of the year-old Dash 8 Q400 shortly before the crash.
It was not clear what procedures were in place for the crew at Colgan Air, which was operating the flight. Colgan is a unit of Pinnacle Airlines.
TURBOPROPS MORE VULNERABLE Continued...