Saturday, February 14, 2009

Continental Flight 3407: Icing Problems Who's Fault Is It

Early this morning I had a bad feeling about flight 3407 so I did a quick research on the Skew-T data at Buffalo Airport

The Skew-T data along with PIREPS had led me to believe that icing was a problem for flight 3407.

Since then, the flight recorder has verified an icing problem was occurring with the plane.

What I found troubling was the reaction of the ATC and their questions of asking pilots if they had encountered icing. It wasn't until after the loss in radio communication with flight 3407 that the ATC started asking pilots about the icing.

Having served as a meteorologist in the Air Force, I remember from my own experience in having to forecast and issue weather warnings that included warnings of moderate to severe icing.

Once issued, I would brief pilots (taking off from the base) on the warnings and they would call in via PMSV, PIREPS that either would verify or not verify the warnings.

These warnings would go out worldwide in NOTAMS so that pilots coming to the base would be made aware of the warnings and pilots would also contact approach to update any forecast or weather warnings.

Knowing this and listening to ATC it seems that there were no warnings issued on moderate to severe icing. The ATC's response seemed as if the questions were asked out of curiosity which would lead to the question on what was taking place.

I tried to search NOTAMS and weather warnings for icing and at this time, I have not been able to find any. If it turns out that no such warnings were issued, then there is a serious problem.

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