The NTSB has dispatched a go team to the site where the crash of a Colgan Air Bombardier Q400 killed 50 people roughly six miles northeast of Buffalo Niagara International Airport at about 10:15 p.m. last night. Operating as Continental Express Flight 3407 from Newark, N.J., the 74-seat turboprop carried 45 passengers and four on-duty crewmembers when, after the airplane descended to about 2,300 feet, air traffic control lost contact with the pilots. The airplane reportedly went into a steep descent and crashed into a single house in the suburban town of Clarence Center, N.Y., killing one of the residents. Two other residents escaped with minor injuries.
Firefighters arrived minutes after the crash but could not get close enough to try to immediately extinguish the fire due to the intense heat it generated. Weather observations at ground level at the time indicated light snow, fog and mist wind gusts of 21 knots. Pilots flying into Buffalo soon after the crash reported icing conditions between 3,200 and 6,000 feet.
A wholly owned subsidiary of Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines, Colgan Air flies a fleet 15 Q400s out of Newark and in January signed a firm order for another 15.
“Continental extends its deepest sympathy to the family members and loved ones of those involved in this accident,” said Larry Kellner, chairman and CEO of Continental Airlines. “We are providing our full assistance to Colgan Air so that together we can provide as much support as possible for all concerned.”
Continental, Pinnacle and Colgan have all dispatched personnel to the scene to assist the NTSB in its investigation.