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Icing could have led to plane crash

AMERICAN safety investigators have been pressing regulators for 15 years to take action over aircraft icing, which has become the leading possible cause for why a Continental Connection turboprop fell out of the sky in wintry conditions on Thursday.

The Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 crashed into a house near Buffalo, New York, killing all 49 people on board and one person on the ground.

While the National Transportation Safety Board investigation of commuter Flight 3047 will take several months, the board has been dissatisfied with the Federal Aviation Administration's response to four of its icing-related safety recommendations, one dating to 1996, records show.

The safety board issued a safety alert last December based on one of the two outstanding icing-related recommendations it made to the FAA in 2007. That one would require pilots to activate anti-icing systems that would break up accumulated ice on the leading edge, or front, of the wings once a plane enters icy conditions.

Safety board investigators in Buffalo said on Friday that "black box" recordings showed the crew of Flight 3407 commented on ice buildup on the windshield and the leading edge of the wings of the year-old Dash 8 Q400 shortly before the crash.

Even a light coating of ice no rougher than sandpaper can cut the amount of lift generated by the wings and increase the minimum speed at which an aircraft stalls.


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