Colgan Air Flight 3407
Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashed in Buffalo, New York 2009 leading to the death of 45 passengers, four crew members and one person who was on the ground. A federal aviation official had advised the company about some gaps that existed in its safety system six months before the crash. Lundgren, the airline’s inspector at the FAA, was adamant that the airline needed to add more people in its flight operations so as to improve its efficiency on service delivery. The accident triggered a massive overhaul of airline safety and pilot qualifications that now affects the entire US air carrier industry. This essay looks at the root cause of the accident, how the culture of the company played a role in the accident, if the accident was preventable, if the recommendations of the NTSB are appropriate and lessons that can be learned from the accident.
The co-pilot mis-programmed a switch on the controls of the aircraft making the pilot to react in the wrong fashion thus causing the accident. The co-pilot did not have training in the handling of the switch and the pilot lacked simulator training in the plane’s stall-recovery equipment. The inability of the pilot and the co-pilot to fully control the plane was the one of the root causes of the accident and was a clear manifestation of the inadequacies that existed in the safety system of the airline. Both the pilot and the copilot lacked some basic training and knowledge in handling some parts of the plane, for instance, the reaction of the pilot after the co-pilot had misprogrammed the switch clearly shows that he lacked knowledge in handling some parts of the plane. The company had overlooked some things in regards to the qualifications of its workers, for instance some programs were still in the development stage when the crush occurred.
The accident of the aircraft was preventable if certain things were put into consideration for example, if the company had put into consideration the advice given by the inspector of FAA who was attached to airline. First of all, the inadequate training and skills that both the pilot and the co-pilot had could have been avoided if the company could have put in place strategies to ensure that the workers were abreast with simple things like the programming of the switch. The airline was under staffed and the accident could have been avoided if the airline could have employed more people to deal with the problems that were widespread in the company. The airline did not put into consideration the advice of employing more people to deal with the increasing demands in the air operations. The accident could also have been prevented if the effective laws and policies were put in place to check on the qualification of pilots, for instance, the required flying hours prior to the accident. Laws and some pieces of legislation to address the gaps that existed in the aviation industry were only put in place after the accident.
The safety culture of the company played a role in causing the accident that led to the loss of lives, for instance, the safety culture probably did not do enough to push for the implementation of the rules and policies that had been put in place. Some programs were still in development; this shows that some programs had not been fully implemented thus living gaps in the safety system of the plane.
The recommendations of the NTSB were appropriate for the reason that they addressed some of the short comings that were widespread in the aviation industry. The recommendation of requiring pilots to have certain qualifications, for instance, the flying hours have helped the aviation industry by getting rid of incompetent workers. The NTSB found out that the captain of aircraft responded inappropriately to the activation of the stick shaker and suggested that the captain should have pushed forward on the control column, but instead incorrectly pulled after on the control column, placing the aircraft into an accelerated aerodynamic stall. Some of recommendations that were issued by the body were intended to reduce flight crew monitoring failures, sleepiness, extra training, pilot professionalism and airspeed selection procedures. Other actions dealt with use of safety notifications for operators to send vital information, use of personable mobile electronic gadgets on the flight deck and information on the weather.
Many lessons can be drawn from the accident because it helped to bring sanity in the aviation industry. Negligence by the company and the inability of the pilots to handle some parts of the aircraft was the main cause of the accident, the airline overlooked some of the advices that one of its inspectors had given, for instance, employing more staff to handle its increasing its air operations.
The public law of 111-216 provides legislation that helps in the handling of the safety of planes. This law consists of changes to the aviation and airline industries which include an increase in pilot qualification standards which has been enforced for pilots seeking employment with US air carriers. The changes are intended to improve the safety of flight but rarely do they have sweeping affects across the industry. The law created significant change and challenges for collegiate flight training programs. As collegiate flight training programs, it is important to understand these challenges so they may collectively and individually adapt to offer the best flight training opportunities possible for their students. Since enactment of PL 111216 in 2010, pilot training organizations have been closely following the details in an effort to stay informed and adjust so they may offer their students and prospective students the best flight training opportunities possible.