Plane That Crashed Was Almost New

Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 turboprop, like the one that crashed outside Buffalo, N.Y. Thursday night, Feb. 12, 2009, killing at least four dozen people, including one on the ground. AP

The commuter plane that crashed in a fiery heap outside Buffalo, N.Y. Thursday night, killing all 48 people on board and one on the ground, had only been in service for one year, CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes reported on The Early Show Friday.

The craft used for Continental Connection Flight 3407 was a 74-seat Q400 turboprop built by the Canadian company Bombardier, and operated by Colgan Air.

The Dash-8 model, Cordes says, had a strong safety record, with no fatal crashes in the U.S.

Back in 2007 though, the landing gear on some Scandinavian Airlines Dash-8s collapsed three times in two days, prompting that carrier to permanently remove all its Dash-8s from service. They comprised almost a fifth of its fleet. The move, Cordes notes, put a crimp in sales of the aircraft for a time.

But landing gear doesn't appear to have been a problem in Thursday's case. The plane was still several miles out from the Buffallo airport when it crashed in light snow.

Aviation expert Peter Goelz, a former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board, told Early Show co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez Friday, "It was a new plane. And the landing gear collapses ... in Sweden ... (ocurred) on landing. And this ... tragedy took place well before the landing gears would have had any involvement. So my guess is that's probably not got anything to do with it."

Details on Bombadier Q400 (DH4)
Source: Colgan Air

74-seat twin turboprop in single-class, four abreast configuration

Jet-like speed with state-of-the-art avionics

Performance profile allows operations below and away from congested airspace

"Q means Quiet" with advanced noise and vibration reduction

Full size cabin with 32" seat pitch and 6'5" of headroom

Two flight attendants for passenger safety and comfort

Continental Airlines short and medium haul in-flight service offerings

Arrives and departs at Terminal C at Newark Liberty Airport

Length 107' 9"
Height 27' 5"
Wingspan 93' 3"
Passengers 68-78
Engines 2 Pratt & Whitney Canada Corp. PW150
360 kts (414 mph)
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