Colgan Flight 3407 NTSB Animation of Buffalo Accident Q400

May 18, 2009

Courtesy: National Transportation Safety Board

The NTSB.GOV website keeps going down, so here’s the animation.

This three-dimensional (3-D) animated reconstruction shows the last 2 minutes of the February 12, 2009, accident involving a Bombardier DHC-8-400, N200WQ, operated by of Colgan Air, Inc., which crashed about 5 nautical miles northeast of Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, Buffalo, New York, while on an instrument landing system approach to runway 23. During the approach, a pitchup motion occurred, followed by a left roll and then a right roll. During these maneuvers, both the stick shaker and stick pusher were activated, and the speed decreased. After further pitch and roll excursions, the airplane entered a steep descent from which it did not recover.
The animation shows excerpts from the flight data recorder (FDR), the pit voice recorder (CVR) transcript, recorded radar data, and aircraft performance data. It does not depict the weather or visibility conditions at the time of the accident. The animation does not include audio.
The upper portion of the animation shows a 3-D model of the airplane and the airplanes motions during the accident sequence. In this area, selected content from the CVR transcript or other annotations are superimposed as text at the time that the event occurred. All times (in eastern standard time) are shown on the right side of the screen.
The lower portion of the animation depicts instruments and indicators, which display selected FDR or calculated parameters. The instruments and indications are shown in three sections, which are (from left to right):
•Airspeed, airspeed tape, low speed cue, attitude indicator showing pitch and roll attitude, altitude, altitude tape, rate of climb, and heading;
•Stick shaker and stick pusher indicated as text, control wheel/column icon depicting the control wheel (rotating right or left) and control column (moving up or down) inputs, and an indicator showing rudder pedal inputs; and
•The power lever and condition lever as indicators, the flap handle selection as an indicator, and auto pilot status and gearhandle position indicated as text.
Excerpts from CVR transcript:
22:15:06.3       HOT-1    flaps five.?22:15:08.1       HOT-2    what??22:15:08.8       HOT-1    flaps five please.?22:15:13.5       APP        Colgan thirty four zero seven three miles from KLUMP turn left heading two six zero maintain two thousand three hundred until established localizer. cleared ILS approach runway two three.?22:15:22.2       RDO-2   left two sixty two thousand three hundred til established and cleared ILS two three approach Colgan thirty four zero seven.?22:15:31.7       HOT-1    alright approach is armed.?22:15:32.8       HOT-2    roger.?22:16:04.1       HOT-1    gear downlocs alive.?22:16:06.4       APP        Colgan thirty four zero seven contact tower one two zero point five. have a good night.?22:16:11.5       RDO-2   over to tower you do the same thirty four zero seven.?22:16:21.2       HOT-2    gears down.?22:16:23.5       HOT-1    flaps fifteen before landing checklist.?22:16:26.6       HOT-2    uhhh.?22:16:37.1       HOT-2    I put the flaps up.?22:16:42.2       HOT-1    [grunt]?22:16:45.8       HOT-2    should the gear up??22:16:46.8       HOT-1    gear up.?22:16:50.1       CAM       [increase in ambient noise]?22:16:51.9       CAM       [thump]

Duration : 0:2:39


26 Responses to “Colgan Flight 3407 NTSB Animation of Buffalo Accident Q400”

  1. sisophous on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    bethpage89, ok I …
    bethpage89, ok I agree but the transcript has the pilots talking about a lot of ice on the aircraft. Also people on the ground mentioned they heard a very eerie buzzing sound just prior to impact yet authorities have not commented on this. It also sounds like Marvin Renslow gave up when he said “we’re down”. It’s all very odd. I think Renslow tried to pull the nose up when the stickshaker activated because he was too low to point the nose down. They were after all minutes from landing.

  2. bethpage89 on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm


    The …

    The airspeed is supposed to drop when flying level at idle with the props forward, the gear down, and flaps extended.

    The pilots knew they were slow as soon as the stickshaker activated.

    There was no ice storm.

    They could have recovered. It didn’t stall immediately. Pitching up with max power made the slow plane climb 200 feet! A plane can only do that if it has excess kinetic energy.

  3. rsrobin2 on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    The aircraft …
    The aircraft stalled because the throttles were pulled back to near flight idle as the gear and flaps were extended which bled off the airspeed to the point of a stall. The captain had plenty of power available to maintain airspeed despite the icing but he didn’t begin using it until stick shaker.

  4. alzomnian on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    I don’t think ice …
    I don’t think ice caused the stall. The reason the pilots didn’t notice the stall is because they weren’t flying the plane. You can’t have auto pilot on, drop the gear and flaps, and not expect the plane to stall. If they would have just brought their power up, they would be alive and none of us would be talking about it

  5. sisophous on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    I don’t believe …
    I don’t believe this was suicide. That could be checked into by seeing if Marvin Renslow recently signed up for multiple life insurance policies and for how much. Do you believe he waited for the perfect storm? The NTSB doesn’t check into this, they are not that swift. It would be the perfect crime though.

  6. sisophous on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    They raised the …
    They raised the flaps just prior to the stall and had the gear down. The pilots from the transcript had no idea a stall was approaching. The pit went from calm to bewilderment to terror all in a matter of seconds. It is also just speculation that the pilot would have recovered had he pitched the nose down to gain speed. Likely he would have just nosedived into the ground with all the ice buildup but that too is speculation.

  7. sisophous on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    The plane had been …
    The plane had been flying on autopilot and fine. The buildup of ice is what caused the airspeed to drop. The plane doesn’t just go into a stall unless something contributed to it or some action by the pilot. The pilots didn’t realize the drop in airspeed until the stall was about to take place. Also, flights get cancelled all the time due to bad weather. Flying into Buffalo through an ice storm in a commuter plane is dangerous.

  8. bethpage89 on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    No–the landihg …
    No–the landihg gear is raised once climbing; flaps are raised incrementally as the aircraft accelerates through safe maneuvering speeds.

  9. Chelseafcisthebest on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    looked like a …
    looked like a sucide attempt

  10. BoeingProductions on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    tip stall?
    tip stall?

  11. buybygb on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    Was it standard …
    Was it standard procedure to raise the flaps so soon during a go around? Just found it odd that they raised the flaps even when they were stalling.

  12. wankel7 on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    If all airplanes …
    If all airplanes diverted when they picked up ice. There would not be much aviation going on in the North East in the Winter time.

    It was the pilots fault. They took a simple stall recovery and screwed it up about every way imaginable.

  13. wankel7 on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    It was the pilots …
    It was the pilots fault. The way he tried to recover from the stall would be the same as you flooring your car if somebody pulled out in front of you. He did the exact opposite of what you are supposed to do when the stick shaker comes on.

    They might have been tired, underpaid, and stressed. But when a car pulls out in front of you…you hit the brakes don’t you? You don’t floor it. And do the opposite of what you are supposed to do.

  14. dska22 on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    Ice was not a …
    Ice was not a problem. Several other aircraft landed successfully that night, including an identical Colgan Q400 (the 5th plane after 3407). Nonetheless, I do agree that placing blame solely on the pilots isn’t helpful in preventing future tragedies.

  15. midgetwidget on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    I’ll take your lack …
    I’ll take your lack of an educated response as agreeing with my point of view. If all you can do is name call and spell check, I think it is fair to ume, I am spot on.
    Thanks for the complement.

  16. midgetwidget on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    I will take that as …
    I will take that as a complement. If all you can do is spell check and call me names, it must be fair to say that you have no argument with my opinion, or you cannot formulate a reasonable rebuttal.

  17. sisophous on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    Im no expert but am …
    Im no expert but am I the only one missing something? The plane was full of ice as mentioned in the transcript. Too much ice can bring down any plane no matter who is piloting it or how much experience they have. The flight should not have been made during an ice storm or been diverted to another airport. The NTSB and Continental are just posturing for all the lawsuits that surely will follow. Blame the pilots for everything is pretty despicable but this is typical following an air tragedy.

  18. FlxThrust on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    ok cool…like i …
    ok cool…like i said, i dont fly Q400’s nor do i know much about them but thats good to know…thanks

  19. FlxThrust on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    Joey, i agree with …
    Joey, i agree with you, but the def of induced drag is; a drag force that occurs whenever a moving object redirects the airflow coming at it. even tho the props on that plane aren’t creating the lift that the wings are. they still have very much to do with airflow and how it moves about the props creating thrust. im not saying this resulted in the crash, but it could have been a component along with the icing.

  20. bethpage89 on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm


    The …

    The autopilot didn’t bring the power to flight idle.

    The pilot brought the power to (or very near) flight idle even before the beginning of the animation.

    He was flying level at the (charted 2300′) glide slope intercept altitude; power was at flight idle in order to slow down to the speed for descending on the glide slope.

  21. N8377L on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    circuit has one “u” …
    circuit has one “u”


  22. rsrobin2 on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    Can anyone explain …
    Can anyone explain why the autopilot brought the throttle back to near flight idle as the gear was extended?

  23. midgetwidget on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    500 cnt need to …
    500 cnt need to shorten wht is said

  24. midgetwidget on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    In a perfect world …
    In a perfect world I agree. I am not making excuses for the FO, but she was thinking. lets say you pop your head up from tuning to tower, and you are in a full stall, and the captain has the yoke pulled to his stomach. Does anything make sence at that point? You need to do something, which she did. I think if I was in that situation, uhh would be very appropriate while I made sence of the extremely confusing situation. Winding the clock and all on Monday morning with football in hand.

  25. jbskies on May 18th, 2009 11:53 pm

    And the condition …
    And the condition levers (prop angel). The giant props wind milled in high RPM with power idle also create tremendous drag.

  26. Nathan Tasker on July 12th, 2009 9:35 am

    I am open to other ideas or suggestions. It is easy to sit in a comfortable chair and play expert.

    Disclaimers pushed to one side, I can’t help wonder about tailplane stall. I have seen some very good articles that explain this phenomenon and I can’t help thinking that maybe the captain was possibly thinking about it too?

    1.) Although speed was decreasing beforehand. it seems selecting flaps to 10 degrees had a dramatic impact… shaker came on and plane pitched up almost immediately.

    2.) One of the first crew responses was to raise the flaps and apply back elevator pressure, consistent with tailplane stall recovery.

    It does seem the stall was aggressive enough that a full stall was quickly entered and from this point it seems altitude was insufficient to recover.

    I join others in wondering if the NTSB will suggest further autopilot usage reduction techniques to increase aerodynamic situational awareness at critical phases of flight.

    Just some ideas for thought.

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