Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Flight 3407: The FAA and NWS Can Take Blame in Part for the Crash

When I first heard about the crash of Flight 3407, I had a bad feeling about icing conditions. I had posted a thread on the Skew_T data and ATC chatter.

Today my feelings have been confirmed. The NTSB has released information on PIREPS that verify what my forecasting experience has taught me. That the conditions at and near Buffalo New York, warranted icing forecasts of moderate to severe icing.

Not light to moderate as the NTSB is indicating. Moreover an investigation into ATC's handling of the forecasts and NWS forecasters should be done.

My comments on the matter are in the following:


This guy from the NTSB, Steve Chealander has made some questionable statements.

1. That the de-icing equipment had be turned on 11 minutes after take-off.

2. The auto-pilot was on during decent.

3. Significant icing does not represent severe icing. (He is playing a game of semantics)

4. Based on weather data , there was no indication of severe icing. (The skew-t data for Buffalo shows icing conditions from moderate to severe)

5. The pilots had winter training that tells you to engage de-icing equipment before entering icing conditions.


The Skew-T data on the day of the crash is below and shows that the potential for icing is high. And from my own forecasting experience, it could be moderate to severe.


He and I agreed that the pilots where not being notified of icing conditions.


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.


I used to be a meteorologist in the Air Force and from my time as a forecaster, the Skew T data would indicate at least moderate icing conditions from the 12 hr time frame between 12z and 00z. From ATC chatter, I get the feeling that there was no concern on icing conditions.

Flight NYC07LA081

What you will find in the above investigation by the NTSB is: The boots on the leading edge of the wings should not be on until icing is occuring on the wings. The question to the NTSB should be why was the de-icing equipment on after 11 minutes of take-off from Newark.

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