The evidence is mounting that icing — and the crew’s reaction to it — played the main part in last week’s tragic Colgan Air crash in Buffalo.
After viewing a video from NASA, one wonders how much the crew — or most other pilots for that matter — knew about the existing investigations into what happens when the tails of turboprop aircraft ice up.
The spooky part of the video is at 15:40, when the test plane stalled (“stalling” in an airplane is the absence of lift). The pilots only recovered by retracing flaps, which allow planes to slow down, and descend without picking up airspeed.
Compare that to the National Transportation Safety Board’s timetable of when things started to go wrong for the plane in Buffalo:
The NTSB has said problems for the 74-seat Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 occurred when the pilots lowered the landing gear and tried to set the wing flaps to slow the aircraft for landing.
The video adds an additional part to the equation: The actions a pilot must take for a “tail stall,” are nearly the opposite of the actions he/she must take for a wing stall, the much more common type of stall.
How much time did the pilots have to take those actions once the plane was (apparently) stalling? Five seconds.