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Flight 3407, Part I
The final moments of Continental Connection Flight 3407 from Newark to Buffalo on Feb. 12, 2009, were harrowing for those in the cockpit. Some of the talk between the captain and first officer also violated federal rules banning nonessential conversation below 10,000 feet. In testimony to the National Transportation Safety Board, Colgan Air’s director of flight standards, John Erwin Barrett, said neither pilot in the twin-engine turboprop was paying attention to the flight instruments.
“(The) crew was not ready to respond to a stall warning when it was activated – it kind of caught them by surprise.”
Colgan’s director of operations, Dean Bandavanis, said he thought the crew lacked “integrity,” which he defined as “doing the right thing when nobody’s watching.”
“The pilots – clearly distracted – let their speed drop too low, and failed to notice, according to documents released Tuesday by the safety board. The stick shaker began vibrating, alerting them to an impending stall, a combination of air speed and aircraft angle that causes the wings to lose lift. And, the documents show, Captain Renslow did exactly the wrong thing; he pulled back on the control yoke, to raise the nose, rather than pushing forward to lower it.”
Captain Renslow had failed three “check-rides,” or tests in a cockpit or a simulator, an unusually high number. In the time before the fateful flight, both Renslow and First Officer Rebecca Shaw also probably got little sleep as both flew to Newark from far away. Renslow tried to sleep in a pilot lounge at Newark Airport, which is illegal.
On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported Captain Renslow may have falsified his job application, omitting two of the above test failures and “would have been immediately dismissed” if supervisors had known, said an official of Pinnacle Airlines Corp., which owns Colgan.
Following is the cockpit voice recording of the final seven minutes. All 49 on board died and one on the ground.
22:10:32 – First Officer Rebecca Shaw: Oh yeah, oh it’s lots of ice.
22:10:47 – Captain Marvin Renslow: Oh yeah, that’s the most I’ve seen, most ice I’ve seen on the leading edges in a long time. In a while, anyway, I should say.
22:10:57 – Shaw: Flying in the Northeast, I’ve 1,600 hours…I had more actual time on my first day of IOE (initial operating experience) than I did in the 1,600 hours I had when I came here.
22:11:31 – Renslow: But, uh, as a matter of fact I got hired with about 625 hours here.
22:11:39 – Shaw: That’s not much for, uh, back when you got hired.
22:11:42 – Renslow: No but, uh, out of that…250 hours was, uh, part 121 turbine, multi-engine turbine.
22:11:54 – Shaw: No, but all these guys are complaining, they’re saying, you know, how we were supposed to upgrade by now and…I’m thinking, you know what? I really wouldn’t mind going through a winter in the Northeast before I have to upgrade to captain.
22:12:05 – Shaw: I’ve never seen icing conditions. I’ve never deiced…I’ve never experienced any of that. I don’t want to have to experience that and make those kinds of calls. You know I’d’ve freaked out. I’d have, like, seen this much ice and thought, oh my gosh we were going to crash.
22:13:58 – Renslow: Oh yeah, I’m so glad…I mean, I would’ve been…fine. I would have survived it…We never had to make decisions that I wouldn’t have been able to make but…now I’m more comfortable.
22:15:59 – Cockpit area microphone (CAM): (sound similar to decrease in engine power)
22:16:06 – CAM (sound similar to landing gear handle movement)
22:16:06 – Buffalo Approach Controller (APP): Colgan thirty four zero seven contact tower one two zero point five, have a good night.
22:16:07 – CAM (sound similar to landing near deployment)
22:16:14 – Flight Crew Audio Panel (HOT): (sound of two double chimes)
22:16:26 – CAM (sound similar to flap handle movement)
22:16:27 – CAM (sound similar to stick shaker lasting 6.7 seconds)
22:16:27 – HOT (sound similar to autopilot disconnect horn repeats until end of recording)
22:16:27 – CAM (sound of click)
22:16:31 – CAM (sound similar to increase in engine power)
22:16:35 – CAM (sound similar to stick shaker lasting until end of recording)
22:16:40 – CAM (sound of two clicks)
22:16:42 – Renslow: (sound of grunt) (unintelligible) – ther bear.
22:16:50 – CAM (increase in ambient noise)
22:16:51-9 – CAM (sound of thump)