Continental Airlines Flight 3407 crashed into a home just north of Buffalo last night killing all 49 airline passengers and one person in the home. It was the first fatal crash of a commercial airliner in the United States since 2006. Firefighters worked through the night to extinguish flames which reportedly reached up to 100 feet. The 74 seat airplane, operated by Colgan Air, was preparing to land at Buffalo Niagra International Airport en route from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. According to eyewitnesses, the whole sky lit up orange just prior to the aircraft diving directly into a house. One person inside the house was killed while two others were able to narrowly escape. Amy Kudwa, spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, said there was no indication of terrorism or foul play surrounding the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team of investigators to Buffalo early this morning. The task of retrieving and identifying victims is not yet underway as the area surrounding the plane crash is still smoldering.
The plane, a Bombadier Dash 8 Q-400 twin engine turboprop, was manufactured at Bombadier’s Toronto facility. Two airlines had stopped flying similar turboprop planes in icy climates due to the aircraft’s poor record in icy conditions. Both American Eagle and Comair halted cold weather use of the planes out of safety concerns. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the plane’s crew repoprted significant icy buildup on the wings just prior to the crash. At least two other pilots reported icy wings on their aircrafts. Additionally, use of the Dash 8 Q-400 planes was permanently halted by Scandinavian Airline Systems in the fall of 2007 after three crashes occurred within a seven week period. A preliminary report from one of those accidents indicated that the Q-400 crash landed after a piece of rubber was stuck in the landing gear. If a manufacturing defect contributed to the plane crash, Bombadier may be liable for the devastating airplpane accident. Colgan Air’s accident response team is working to confirm the identities of those on the aircraft.