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Making short flights safer

   The lead editorial in today's Buffalo News, "Make short flights safer," hopes that the investigation of the loss of Flight 3407 will settle some ongoing questions about air safety.

The conflicting information that has emerged in the wake of the loss of Continental Express Flight 3407 last Thursday, and the deaths of 50 people, only heightens the sense of loss and the feeling that someone, somewhere, is to blame.

   It has got to be maddening for pilots, and frightening for passengers, to hear that two federal agencies Cockpit charged with keeping the skies safe -- the Federal Aviation Administration and thNational Transportation Safety Board -- don't agree on such key points as when to switch off the autopilot in icing conditions. Experts also differ on whether turboprobs, such as the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 that fell on Clarence Center, are efficient for short hops or dangerous for low-speed, low-altitude flights where ice is a special danger.

   In a special op-ed in The News Tuesday, former NTSB Chairman Jim Hall bluntly says: This crash was foreseeable and likely preventable, if not for the preference of profit over safety in some of the aviation industry and for the lax oversight of the Federal Aviation Administration in its failure to adequately address known safety risks related to icing. 

And so forth:
- Scientific American explains "How does ice cause a plane to crash?" [In which we learn that NASA has a whole bureau devoted to the question of ice on airplanes.]
- The NTSB has an FBI-like Most-Wanted List. But, instead of a list of bad people, it's a list of good things. Things like improved aircraft safety programs such as dealing with ice, crew training and in-flight video recordings. And its Web site is stressing its Aircraft Inflight Icing Safety Alert. 
The Batavia Daily News adds its sympathies.
- Complete Buffalo News coverage of the crash and its aftermath continues to be updated here. It includes word of how many people around here can depend on the kindness of strangers.
The Washington Post has a touching editorial honoring Alison Des Forges, the Buffalo resident and human rights activist lost in the crash of Flight 3407: There could be no finer purpose or higher honor than taking up the work where she left off.

-- George Pyle/Editorial Writer
[Photo of Dash 8 Q400 cockpit from Bombardier Inc., where info on the Q400 still appears under the headline "Success story."

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