Colgan Air Flight 3407 Accident Research Proposal

Length: 12 pages Sources: 3 Subject: Transportation Type: Research Proposal Paper: #98523956 Related Topics: Accident Investigation, Babbitt, Air Quality, Muscular System
Excerpt from Research Proposal :

On the hand, some plans may be slow to respond to the pilot's commands; complicating the piloting process, much like a sports car, for example, that under steers or a truck that over steers (Personal Communication, 2010). Bay contends that training on more than one plane of a particular model would prove to be a positive practice for airlines to implement.

Bay asserts that the following questions need to be answered regarding the cause of the crash of Flight 3407.

How much training and experience did the pilot/s have with this particular aircraft?

How many hours experience did the pilot/s have flying this particular craft?

Did a matter of pilot fatigue play a part in the incident?

Could alcohol have been a factor in the pilot's inability to "do the right thing"?

Were there any known defects with the plane?

Did any type mechanical malfunction occur?

On what date was the plane last inspected and/or serviced? (Personal

Communication, 2010).

Prior to the crash landing, the CVR in the cockpit of Flight 3407 recorded that Renslow and Shaw engaged a conservation that potentially distracted Renslow from effectively operating the plane. Robert Sumwalt, Member of the NTSB board perceived the conversation as basically one-sided and continuous with Renslow talking most of the time. Sumwalt added, "It was as if the flight was just a means for the captain to conduct a conversation with this young first officer" (Emison, 2010, ¶ 5). Whatever the primary, ultimate crash cause may never be known, the researcher asserts. Nevertheless, according to Buffington (2009), the Clarence Center crash "spurred a cry for greater pilot training and other safety measures at regional airlines such as Colgan air…" Jeffry Skiles, Vice President of the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations, contends that the fault, albeit, extends beyond the fault of the crew. "The crew had not been fully trained in stall recovery (Buffington, p. 351). The system, Buffington argues, positioned Renslow and Shaw to fail.

In the study, "The Cockpit, the Cabin, and Social Psychology," Robert Baron (2005), PhD., explains that each airline pilot is required to receive crew resource management (CRM) training. This training "augments technical flight and ground training with human factors subjects. & #8230;Unfortunately, in real flight operations, & #8230;cognitive and physical factors & #8230;cause these disparate groups to work less than efficiently…particularly when a cohesive environment is critical, such as in an emergency" (Baron, Abstract).

A myriad of questions, relating to considerations Baron (2005) presents, naturally evolve in seeking to discover causes for the Flight 3407 crash. Questions as the following, albeit will not likely be officially addressed include:

How many hours did the flight crew fly on the day of the mishap?

How many consecutive days have the flight crew been working prior to the day of the mishap?

How much sleep did both liked Crewmembers' have the night prior to the flight?

How many hours with the flight crew members on duty outside of actual flying on the day of the mishap in prior day's? Can't

Did the flight crew sleep at home the night prior?

If so, how far did they commute to get to Santiago to take the flight?

Had either crew member slept in a "crash pad" in San Diego the night before

Had either crew member enjoyed a healthy meal prior to flying the route?

What personal life stresses were the flight crew members facing outside of work? (Buffington, 2009, p. 354).

The January 17, 2010, Los Angelos Times article, "Are pilots flying beyond their limits?, Dan Weikel (2010) reports that pilot fatigue currently causes concerns regarding airline safety. In fact: "Seven of the last nine airline crashes in the United States have involved regional carriers, and pilot fatigue was likely a factor in at least four of those incidents, according to federal safety investigators" (Weikel, p. 1). The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations mandates that airline pilots not fly more than eight hours in a 24-hour period; however, they may be on duty up to 16 hours during that time period. Depending on the hours the pilot flies when his shift ends, airlines must allocate eight to 12 hours of time off for the pilot.

Even though airlines limit the time the pilot may fly, sleep experts argue that the federal limits do not consider how flight delays, increased workload, jet lag, night flights and multiple flights during a shift may adversely affect the pilot. As pilots also work irregular hours, for example, when they start their shift in the middle of the night, this practice may disrupt the pilot's natural sleep cycle. One pilot reported that he has seen a number of his workers appearing so tired that they had trouble staying awake or actually taking a short nap inside the cockpit. According to a 2008 study NASA conducted, approximately 80% of regional pilots admitted to nodding...


Caldwell, a Hawaii-based fatigue consultant, experienced in working for airlines, the armed forces and NASA, explains that when a person does not get enough rest, he may experience problems even performing typical routine tasks. The lack of sleep may also "trigger a phenomenon known as micro-sleeps, nodding off from a fraction of second to several seconds. Fatigue is an epidemic type of problem," Caldwell stresses (Caldwell, as cited in Weikel, 2010, p. 1). Unpredictable schedules and making multiple landings and takeoffs in a day, may adversely affect the pilot's ability to respond in an emergency situation. Mitchell (2010) concurs with the observations Caldwell makes. He reports:

20 ears after the NTSB placed "pilot fatigue" it on its' "Most Wanted List," nothing has been done. And recently, FAA Administrator Babbitt postponed, yet again, the release of its NPRM on fatigue, originally promised prior to the end of 2009. This lack of response is due to the FAA's inability to separate special interests from the need to reform flight safety issues (Mitchell, 2010, "NTSB Report…," ¶ 4).

In addition to pilot fatigue possibly contributing to an accident, the pilot's consumption of alcoholic beverages may also increase the potential for human error during flight (Alcohol and flying, N.d.). The Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) 91.17 guidelines states:

The use of alcohol and drugs by pilots is regulated by FAR 91.17. Among other provisions, this regulation states that no person may operate or attempt to operate an aircraft:

within 8 hours of having consumed alc while under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol content of 0.04% or greater while using any drug that adversely affects safety. (Alcohol and flying, N.d., p. 2).

The number of serious errors that a pilot may commit dramatically increases when his blood levels rise above concentrations of 0.04% blood alcohol. Table 1 portrays the effects of different blood alcohol concentrations. Due to the wide variation in alcohol tolerance among individuals, the blood alcohol content values in the table overlap.

Table 1: Affects of Various Blood Alcohol Concentrations (Alcohol and flying, N.d., p. 2).


(10-50 mg%)

average individual appears normal


(30-120 mg%)

mild euphoria, talkativeness, decreased inhibitions, decreased attention, impaired judgment, increased reaction time


(90-250 mg%)

emotional instability, loss of critical judgment, impairment of memory and comprehension, decreased sensory response, mild muscular incoordination


(180-300 mg%)

confusion, dizziness, exaggerated emotions (anger, fear, grief) impaired visual perception, decreased pain sensation, impaired balance, staggering gait, slurred speech, moderate muscular incoordination


(270-400 mg%)

apathy, impaired consciousness, stupor, significantly decreased response to stimulation, severe muscular incoordination, inability to stand or walk, vomiting, incontinence of urine and feces


350-500 mg% unconsciousness, depressed or abolished reflexes, (abnormal body temperature, coma; possible death from respiratory paralysis (450 mg% or above)

The effect from hangover, at times experienced after consumption of alcoholic beverages after the alcohol's acute intoxication has disappeared, may be as dangerous as the intoxication itself (Ibid.).


For the pilot to know what he needs to do, the researcher contends, the airline was properly train him. For the pilot to be more likely to do what he knows to do, the airline must also ensure that he is not fatigued, intoxicated, or attempting to further his personal agenda instead of investing his full attention to safely flying the plane. Ensuring that the pilot will not make any human errors proves impossible. What is possible for the pilot to do, the researcher proposes, is to learn the best practices in piloting and then to his best to practice them. After all, his life, his co-pilots, the passengers and those on the ground may at some point in time depend on him doing what he knows to do.


Alcohol and Flying. (N.d.). Federal Aviation Administration. Retrieved February 13, 2010


Baron, R. (2005). The Cockpit, the Cabin, and Social Psychology. Airline Retrieved February 13, 2010 from

Black, H.C.(1990). Discovery. Black's Law Dictionary West Publishing: St. Paul, MN.

Buffington. P.M. (2009). Squawk 7700: A Pilot's Adventure. Retrieved February 13, 2010 from

07+ACCIDENT&source=gbs_navlinks_s Emison, B. (2010) Pilot error; poor training…

Sources Used in Documents:


Alcohol and Flying. (N.d.). Federal Aviation Administration. Retrieved February 13, 2010


Baron, R. (2005). The Cockpit, the Cabin, and Social Psychology. Airline Retrieved February 13, 2010 from

Black, H.C.(1990). Discovery. Black's Law Dictionary West Publishing: St. Paul, MN.
Buffington. P.M. (2009). Squawk 7700: A Pilot's Adventure. Retrieved February 13, 2010 from
07+ACCIDENT&source=gbs_navlinks_s Emison, B. (2010) Pilot error; poor training blamed in Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash. Retrieved February 13, 2010 from errorpoor-training-blamed-in-colgan-air-flight-3407crash.aspx?googleid=277816&utm_
Aviation Online Magazine. Retrieved February 13, 2010 from
Magazine. Retrieved February 13, 2010 from Feed%3A+AvstopAviationNewsAndResourceOnlineMagazine+%28AvStop+ Aviation+News+and+Resource+Online+Magazine%29
13, 201 from
13, 201 from

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