Second opinion

Clarence Center Plane Crash 2/12/09, originally uploaded by bowler6788.

Kent Wien, 757/767 pilot and author of columns Cockpit Chronicles and Plane Answers, points out where the NTSB’s examination of the Colgan Air 3407 accident falls short of the mark.

Glossed over in the report was the fact that both the captain and first officer had very little sleep over the previous 24 hours. The NTSB says the captain had ‘reduced sleep opportunities’ and attempted to rest in the company crew lounge. Apparently the attempts at sleeping there weren’t effective since the captain logged on to a company computer at 3:10 in the morning.

…But one of the investigators in the Colgan accident, Robert Sumwalt refuses to allow for the possibility that fatigue was even a contributing factor in the accident, saying “…just because the crew was fatigued, that doesn’t mean it was a factor in their performance.”


…The role of fatigue was mentioned during an NTSB hearing on the Colgan accident. Board chairman Deborah Hersman argued that several issues, including the crew’s sleep deficits and the time of day the accident took place, were factors and said that fatigue was present and should be counted as a contributing factor to the crew’s performance.

But the view of board member and former USAirways pilot Robert Sumwalt prevailed. He concluded that fatigue wasn’t a factor in the accident. It didn’t stop them from detailing the role it played in Colgan 3407 (PDF LINK)

So if nicotine is found to cause some cancer, but its role in a person’s life expectancy cannot be determined, should we rule it out as a possible factor in a lung cancer death?

— Wien, Kent.  “Plane Answers: NTSB glosses over fatigue in the Colgan crash.”, 4 February 2010.

RELATED: Kent argues convincingly that the Colgan crew was not distracted by idle chatter, since they didn’t say anything other than the usual callouts for two minutes prior to the stall condition.

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