49 killed in Continental Airlines crash in Buffalo, NY

Aviation Herald is reporting a Colgan Air De Havilland Dash 8-400 on behalf of Continental Airlines, registration N200WQ performing flight 9L-3407/CO-3407 from Newark, NJ, USA to Buffalo, NY, USA with 44 passengers and 4 crew, crashed into a home in a surburb of Buffalo about 5 nm (10km) from the airport and burst into flames while on approach to Buffalo’s Niagara Airport at about 10:17pm local time (03:17 GTM). All 48 occupants and one person on the ground died.

This is the second accident Continental is suffering in recent past. On December 20, 2008, a Continental Boeing 737 crashed at Denver airport.

The airplane was on the approach frequency, had been cleared down to 2300 feet, guided via radar vectors (heading 330 then heading 310) and cleared for an ILS approach to runway 23 and had just been handed over to the tower. The crew confirmed the frequency change, but didn’t contact the tower anymore and also could not be reached on the approach frequency about one minute after hand over. A following Delta flight 1998 could not see the Dash 8 due to being in cloud, but also could not see the plane on their TCAS.

The home on 6050 Long Road is reported to be completely destroyed and reduced to rubble. Twelve homes along Long Road, Goodrich Road and Clarence Center Road near Clarence Town Hall in Clarence Center had to be evacuated. Two more residents on the ground were treated for injuries and brought to a hospital. Fire fighters were on the scene within seconds since their fire house on Clarence Center Road just next to the crash site.

A witness on the ground saw the airplane flying low with the left wing slightly low before it impacted ground.

The tower controller reported, that the airplane dropped off his radar without any anomaly beforehand.

Following the recognition, that the airplane was on the ground, the tower checked the ILS equipment of the airport sending Delta 1998 into a hold, found the ILS in the clear but transmitted a warning to all aircraft on tower and approach frequencies. Delta 1998 coming from the North reported upon request by the approach, that they were not building any significant ice, however reported a quarter of an inch. Another airplane, Cactus 1452 (US Airways/America West) coming from the South like the crashed Colgan Air, reported that they were picking up some ice for about 10 minutes for about 20nm. Subsequently Delta 1998 was commanded to not perform an autoland for possible localizer fluctuations.

The aircraft is new and was delivered 16th April 2008.

Relatives and friends of those traveling on flight 3407 who want to give or receive information about those on board may telephone the family assistance number at 1-800-621-3263.

Hear ATC conversation at Buffalo at the time of the accident.

For an edited version click here.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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