There probably won't be major new revelations about what happened to the Continental Connection Dash-8 Q400 that crashed outside Buffalo, so I expect stories (and blogging) to ramp down on this one. Stories filed in the past 24 hours include this AP report by Joan Lowy in which NTSB and other figures express frustration over what they regard as slow FAA action on the safety board's recommendations in this area, and of course the FAA's defense of its actions. This Buffalo News story by Jerry Zremski includes a more detailed discussion than I've seen elsewhere of autopilot systems; one thing the NTSB is investigating is the interplay between pilot, autopilot and accumulating ice just before the loss of control at low altitude. Zremski writes:
A law textbook called “Aircraft Accident Reconstruction and Investigation” lists 14 incidents in which the autopilot was wrongly used or improperly monitored. In one case, the plane overshot the runway and two people were killed. In another, the pilot programmed the wrong speed into the system, prompting a fatal crash.
Many planes have several different autopilot modes, and the mode the pilot chooses and how he or she programs the device is hugely important, aviation experts said.
This AP story reports Colgan Air's defense of its pilot training and safety programs that was noticed by the Airline Biz Blog yesterday, along with a photo of wreckage being removed.