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Lack of Sleep a factor in recent Buffalo area plane crash of Continental Flight 3407

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Could sleep and lack of experience by the Co Pilot in the recent crash of Continental flight 3407 outside of Buffalo be factors in the cause? According to comments made by 'rookie' co pilot Rebecca Shaw in a NTSB public hearing on the tragic event she was paid $16,000 to doomed Flight 3407. Also lead Pilot Capt. Marvin Renslow

had lied about violations in his carrer and might have had lacked sleep. Here story.



Passengers of Continental Flight 3407 had sleep-deprived pilot, underpaid co-pilot

BY Richard Sisk



Updated Thursday, May 14th 2009




Rebecca Shaw was paid $16,000 to co-pilot doomed Flight 3407.





WASHINGTON - Passengers aboard doomed Flight 3407 trusted their lives to a pilot who lied about his flying record and a sleep-deprived, young co-pilot who got paid just $16,000 a year, airline and federal officials said Wednesday.


After reviewing the litany of screwups by the crew and its employer Colgan Air Inc., acting National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Mark Rosenker said all appeared guilty of "cutting the salami too thin on being fit to fly."


The 45 passengers and two other crew members on the Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 twin turboprop that went down on approach to Buffalo last Feb. 12 were "entitled to an extremely well-qualified and fit" air crew - but they didn't get it, Rosenker said.


The crash also killed one man on the ground.


Testimony at a second day of NTSB hearings showed that co-pilot Rebecca Lynn Shaw, 24, bunked with her husband at her parents' house near Seattle, a cross-country commute from her Newark Airport home base.


The hearing also disclosed that Capt. Marvin Renslow lied about his flight record when Colgan hired him last year to fly its Continental Connection planes.


Renslow failed to list two Federal Aviation Administration flight certification tests that he had flunked, said Mary Finnigan, Colgan vice president for administration.


If the airline had known, Renslow, 47, "would've been immediately dismissed," Finnigan said. "If the pilot is a professional pilot, he should answer honestly."


But Rosenker pointed out that Colgan could have obtained the records.


Wednesday's session focused on crew fatigue and low pay as possible factors in air accidents, with the lifestyle of the 24-year-old Shaw offered up as a prime example.


Colgan's policy was that air crews "should not attempt to commute to base on the day of work," but Shaw arrived at her hub in Newark in the early morning hours of Feb. 12 after riding cockpit jump seats from Seattle to Memphis and then Newark - a journey of 2,817 miles.


Colgan had ruled that sleeping in the crew lounge at Newark was a fireable offense, but Shaw told the FedEx crew of her flight from Seattle that there was a couch in the lounge "with my name on it."


"I think it's a recipe for an accident and that's what we have here," said NTSB examiner Kitty Higgins. "Fatigue has been compared to driving drunk. It has the same effect on an individual as alcohol."


Finnigan said that first officers such as Shaw made about $23 for each hour in the air and Shaw had earned $16,254 last year. Finnigan also said that first officers typically earned the "industry standard" of about $20,000, and captains made between $53,000 and $55,000 at Colgan.Roger Cox, NTSB's aviation safety operations group chairman, suggested that Shaw commuted across four time zones because she couldn't afford to live in the New York area on her salary.


Commuting is free - pilots let other pilots hitch rides. Neither Renslow nor Shaw rented hotel rooms or had a "crash pad" or apartment near Newark.


Despite Renslow's two failed tests previously, he had passed all exams and training requirements at Colgan and was "fully qualified," said Capt. Harry Mitchell, Colgan's vice president for flight operations.


Even Mayor Bloomberg, who is licensed to fly jets and helicopters, expressed shock at the fitness of the crew.


"I wouldn't have flown with either one of them," he told reporters in Brooklyn.


"One was very inexperienced and overtired and a novice, and the other had flunked tests repeatedly, apparently - I would not have wanted" them at the controls, Bloomberg said.


After the barrage of criticism, friends of the cockpit crew came to their defense.


Jeff Linquist, 47, a private pilot from Orlando said Renslow "was a good pilot" and "really knew his stuff."


"It's just like any other accident - they've got to find somebody to blame," Linquist said.


Like many other pilots, Renslow sometimes worked a second job. He quit stocking groceries at a supermarket near Orlando about a year before the crash.


Jonathan Skrodski, a produce clerk, said he often overheard Renslow talking about his love for flying and "I was very shocked. In my head, I was going, 'What the hell is this guy doing here?' "


Amy Hoover, chairwoman of the aviation department at Central Washington University where Shaw got a degree, said "these students often come out of school with $20,000 in debt and then get a $20,000-a-year job, horrible hours, long commuting times."


"That's why it's important to understand that these young people know this and they're dedicated enough to do it anyway," Hoover said.



c)2009 NY Daily News, Inc. rsisk@nydailynews.com





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The weather they were flying through should have warranted weather closure of the airport. When you are 2 minutes to wheels down, your engines are low, your flaps are out, and gear is down. This makes the plane not only prone to icing related erratic movements, but it also makes the plane very sluggish and hard to predict. They only had enough time to pull the gear up, which takes about 10-15 seconds. It seems in that time they lost complete control. Experience or not, flying in those conditions should have had those 2 people ready to divert to another airport. Some crew are too afraid to make pax late, in reality the urge to be on time is what leads to this kind of mishap. There is not enough space in the sky or on the ground to fit everyone on time. They should have diverted, knowing the icing issues with prop planes.


On the other hand, the icing could have all of the sudden got much worse, and became too much for them to recover from. We will never know the reason the pilot overrode the stick pusher, perhaps that was the correct method to recover from the situation he was in at the time, perhaps he didn't have enough time for his corrective input to take effect. As far as them being afraid of icing, what 2 flight crew talk about is basically a private conversation that happens to be recorded on an emergency box for NTSB use to figure out what happened.


Whatever the case, commercial airline pilots are often former military, or former private industry pilots, and have more than enough skill and knowledge to fly any pax craft. In the rare event of a somewhat novice pilot, usually something comes up that challenges their more limited skills that they can't overcome, not based on lack of skill, but lack of experience. I think that's what happened here.


That being said, FAA flight readiness requirements should include icing on prop planes, preferably more than one type to avoid "monoculture" learning.


- A

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