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NTSB Hearings into Plane Crash Wrap Up

Courtesy of ntsb.gov.

By Matt Laslo

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-837532.mp3

Washington, DC – Thursday was the final day of hearings into the deadly crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 in Clarence. A lot of evidence has been publicly released, but victim's families still have unanswered questions.

Jonathan Perry and his girlfriend were in the second row of the flight when it crashed in February. They perished along with forty eight others. This week their family members heard testimony that Colgan's pilots weren't well rested before they took off. Many families also accuse the Federal Aviation Administration of having lax regulations. Denise Perry is Jonathan's mother.

"I see a lot of people have made a lot of mistakes. A lot of people haven't acted on things that they should have," Perry said. "It's unbelievable to me, it's just unbelievable how many people are involved and that there hasn't been more oversight and that more people haven't taken responsibility."

Throughout the week, Perry and other grieving family members met with New York Senator Chuck Schumer and other lawmakers. The lawmakers pledged to push the FAA for reforms. One lingering question is why the pilots pulled the plane up when it initially stalled. Proper training would have taught them to let the plane glide until it regained proper speed. National Transportation Safety Board chair person Debbie Hersman says new warning systems may be needed.

"Failing to monitor your speed for 20 seconds had a catastrophic result," Hersman said. "You know, I think this crew went from complacency to catastrophe in 30 seconds. They didn't see it coming."

Some planes do have warning systems to alert pilots when they go too slow. The FAA doesn't require alerts for when a plane loses speed. Agency spokesperson Les Dorr says well trained pilots don't need a warning system.

"There's nothing to indicate that the pilots were not properly trained. They should have and did know how to react to the situation that they got into," Dorr said. "I think one of the Colgan people said it best, that "we really do not know why they reacted differently than they were supposed to do according to their training."

Family members question why Colgan retained the pilot who had failed five flight tests. The NTSB is expected to release its findings early next year.

Click the audio player above to hear Matt Laslo's story now or use your podcasting software to download it to your computer or iPod.