Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

A few angles on Flight 3407

The News has most of the angles covered, but I've found a few interesting tidbits on Flight 3407 worth sharing.

For a different perspective, check out a good online package from the BBC.

Salon has a feature called Ask The Pilot which deals with several aspects of the crash, including a good primer on icing.

Icing, which can occur both aloft and on the ground, is a common phenomenon. As most passengers understand it, icing is something that affects airplanes before they take off. You know the routine: sitting on the tarmac for an hour waiting for a snow-covered airplane to be sprayed down with strangely colored fluid. Parked at the terminal, an aircraft collects precipitation the way your car does -- via snowfall, sleet, freezing rain or frost. (Thanks to supercooled fuel in the wings, frost can form insidiously even with temps above freezing.) The delicious-looking spray (apricot-strawberry) used to remove it is a heated combination of propylene glycol alcohol and water. It melts away existing snow or ice, and prevents the buildup of more. Different fluid mixtures, varying in temperature and viscosity, are applied for different conditions ...

Potentially dangerous icing also occurs during flight. Under the right combination of moisture and temperature, it can form along the leading edges of the wings and tail, along engine intakes and propeller blades, as well as on windscreens, probes and various other surfaces. Left unchecked, heavy icing can damage engines, throw propeller assemblies off balance, and, just as it does on the ground, steal away precious lift. In a worst-case scenario it can induce a full-on aerodynamic stall -- the point when a wing essentially ceases to fly. Planes are most susceptible during takeoff and landing, when speed is slowest and the lift margins already slim. 

The Daily Beast, meanwhile, has a column from Clive Irving,senior consulting editor at Conde Nast Traveler, who specializes in aviation.

For some time now, the Safety Board—your mechanic—has been pressing the FAA to toughen the standards for testing an airplane’s vulnerability to icing. In fact, the board gives the FAA an “unacceptable” rating on icing questions. This all too familiar and prolonged difference in the standards held by expert crash investigators and the FAA regulators (who have been far too cozy with both airlines and planemakers) has a deadly cost.

The New York Times has a piece that many of us can relate to, even though it includes some cheap shots and a glaring inaccuracy about our housing market.

Beyond the loss of life, the circumstances of the crash have also struck a discordant note among some longtime residents for whom traveling in inclement weather is a fact of life.

Finally, for those of you who may have missed it, I live blogged the crash Friday with 38 updates during the course of the day on Inside the News. I want to highlight a couple of posts Steve Watson, our technology reporter, gave me on how Facebook and Twitter came into play. Both sites are worth continuing to check out. 

Update, 6:36 p.m. -- As social-networking has grown in popularity in recent years, it’s no surprise that thousands of people have turned to Facebook to express their shock and grief over the crash of Flight 3407. A number of groups related to the crash have popped up on the site today. Most visitors to the groups have left messages of condolence, often because they have a personal connection to the tragedy. 

Googling “facebook” and “flight 3407” brings up one of the groups. You must be a Facebook member to join the group or leave a comment, but even non-members can read the messages left on the “wall” of the group. Facebook members can search for flight 3407 on the site and find numerous examples.

Update, 2:39 p.m. -- Twitter users in Buffalo and elsewhere have relied on the service to post regular updates in the minutes and hours since the crash of Flight 3407.

The micro-blogging site has been a very good source of information on the crash, with links to news articles, photos and video. Most updates on the crash are tagged with the term "#clarenceplanecrash" to make it easier to follow the conversation.

You do not need to be a member of Twitter to view the conversation.


comments powered by Disqus