Sunday, December 25, 2011

Too Many Weather-Related Plane Crashes

by Dave Gorham on December 23, 2011 

Sometimes you think it’s your imagination (“Is it my imagination, or have there been a lot of plane crashes recently?”), but that’s not the case this time. The crashes are all too real, and all too recent — and, it would seem, the crashes are weather-related.

Specifically, I’m referring to five in-the-news crashes this week:

A crash Tuesday in New Jersey of a small plane onto Interstate 287 that killed all five persons on board. Officials reported the pilot confirmed he was experiencing icing conditions shortly after takeoff. Listening to the tape of the conversation with air traffic control, the pilot reported severe icing (severe icing can quickly overwhelm anti-icing/deicing equipment). It was also reported the plane broke up in mid-air which maybe attributed to airframe failure due to the stress of a spin.

A crash Tuesday of a training flight in Denton, Texas ended with one dead and two injured. Occurring at night, weather conditions at the time included very low clouds and visibility from 1/2 to 1/4 mile due to fog. It was noted that the fog was unexpected and not part of the forecast.

A crash Monday, also in Texas, killed a family of five from Georgia. Strong thunderstorms across Texas caused the plane to route around storms, but it was reported the plane was flying through rain and lightning at the time.

On Monday an NTSB report was released citing weather as a contributing factor in a Mississippi crash that took the lives of a husband and wife in 2010. It was reported that “extreme thunderstorms crossed the plane’s path.”

This week the FAA issued rules designed to prevent pilots from flying while fatigued — which can trace its “revived” origins to the crash of Continental Connection 3407 which went down near Buffalo, NY in a snow storm nearly three years ago (“revived” because the NTSB has been working on the fatigue ruling for decades, but the issue stalled prior to the 3407 crash).

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