NTSB: Plane didn't dive, but landed flat on house - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

NTSB: Plane didn't dive, but landed flat on house

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Posted: Saturday, February 14, 2009 3:17 pm | Updated: 1:46 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

CLARENCE, N.Y. - An investigator says the plane that crashed on a house in New York state landed flat on it and was pointed away from the airport where it was supposed to land.

Steve Chealander (CHEE-lan-duhr) said Saturday that Continental Connection Flight 3407 did not dive into the house, as initially thought.

Chealander says the New Jersey-to-Buffalo flight was cleared to land on a runway pointing to the southwest. But the plane crashed with its nose pointed to the northeast.

He also says the catastrophic nature of the crash means it could take three or four days to remove human remains.

Forty-nine people on the plane and one person in the house died in the fiery crash late Thursday.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

CLARENCE, N.Y. (AP) - Crash investigators picked through incinerated wreckage Saturday, gathering evidence to determine what brought down a commuter plane that plunged into a home and exploded.

It could take days to recover all human remains from the plot of land where a single-family home stood before Continental Connection Flight 3407 nose-dived into it late Thursday, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Steve Chealander said.

Experts were analyzing data from the black boxes, including statements by crew members about a buildup of ice on the wings and windshield of the plane, Chealander said.

But authorities have yet to pin that as the cause of the crash, which occurred during a light snow and mist, killing 49 people on the flight and one man in the home.

Ice on wings can cripple an aircraft and has been blamed for several previous plane crashes. Other aircraft in the area Thursday night told air traffic controllers it also experienced icing around the time that Flight 3407 from Newark, N.J., to Buffalo went down.

Icing is one of several elements being examined by investigators, who plan to remain in Buffalo for another week before shipping plane parts to locations around the country for study, Chealander said. A full report will likely take a year, he said.

"We're in the very early stages of the investigation," he said. "The icing and other things are just preliminary focuses."

One aspect of the investigation will focus on the crew, how they were trained and whether they had enough time to rest between flights. Other investigators focused on the weather, the mechanics of the plane and whether the engine, wings and various mechanics of the plane operated as they were designed to.

But recovery of the bodies will take priority over the investigation, Chealander said.

The remains-recovery effort was being led by Dennis Dirkmaat, a forensic anthropologist from Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., and a nationally renowned expert who led the recovery effort after United Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, Pa., on Sept. 11, 2001.

The crash site remained off limits Saturday, with police barring reporters and photographers from the neighborhood.

Authorities still haven't released a list of the victims of the nation's first deadly air crash in 2 1/2 years, but reminders of the disaster were visible all around the Buffalo area.

Flags flew at half-staff outside Buffalo Niagara International Airport and at Clarence Town Hall, the site of a command center set up by police.

Family members of the victims were sequestered in a hotel Saturday where they were scheduled to meet with representatives of Continental Airlines. Police turned away reporters.

The 74-seat Q400 Bombardier aircraft was operated by Colgan Air, based in Manassas, Va. Colgan's parent company is Pinnacle Airlines of Memphis, Tenn.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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