Lawyers representing families whose relatives were killed aboard the 2009 crash of a Colgan Air / Continental Connection airplane informed the court that they have settled all but 13 of the wrongful death claims.
Fifty people were killed after Colgan Air Flight 3407 went into an aerodynamic stall and crashed into a house in Clarence Center, New York. The crash killed all 49 of the people in the airplane and one person in the house.
The airplane, a 74-seat Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, was en route from Newark, New Jersey, to Buffalo, New York, when it crashed on February 12, 2009. A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) crash investigation blamed the crash on pilot error, saying that the pilot failed to respond properly to the airplane’s stall warnings.
While preparing to land, the airplane slowed to a dangerous 131 knots, activating all of the aircraft’s low-speed warning systems. However, instead of applying full power and lowering the nose – the standard procedure for recovering from a stall – the captain applied 75 percent power and continued to point the airplane’s nose upward. The airplane then went into a series of rolls and pitches, sending it colliding with the ground.
The crash prompted families of the victims to lobby for tougher government safety regulations and oversight of regional airline operations, safer operating procedures, and better working conditions for pilots of commuter planes.
Forty-two lawsuits were filed against Colgan Air and its parent Pinnacle Airlines, as well as codeshare partner Continental Airlines, the airplane’s manufacturer Bombadier, and FlightSafety International, which trained the pilots.
Plaintiffs’ lawyers provided the U.S. District Court in Buffalo an update Wednesday, saying that 29 of the plaintiffs have settled their claims with the defendants, while mediation on 13 remains. Amounts of the settlements haven’t been disclosed.