Marvin and Rebecca’s first two flights of the day were cancelled due to high winds at Newark so they both waited in the crew room until their company dispatch released them for flight 3407 at 6pm, 4 and a half hours after their initial report time.  Certainly for Rebecca, it had been a long time since she had done more than nap in a chair.  Their flight to Buffalo was due to take 53 minutes and they were carrying 45 passengers which, along with their two cabin attendants meant that they had 49 souls onboard their Q400 aircraft. The pilots’ performance was likely impaired because of fatigue but to what extent could not be conclusively determined.  However, they boiled down to the flight crew’s failure to monitor airspeed, the flight crew’s failure to adhere to sterile cockpit procedures, the Captain’s failure to effectively manage the flight and Colgan Air’s inadequate procedures for airspeed selection, management during approaches in icing conditions and training.  This is the story of Colgan Air Flight 3407.


A Bombardier Q400


The SAAB 340


The DH Dash 8


Examples of wing icing


Stills from the NTSB accident report


Stills from the NTSB accident report


Stills from the NTSB accident report


The wreckage of Flight 3407


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Lord of the Wings, Bill Abbott, Steve Fitzgerald, NASA and the NTSB.