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Copilot Spoke of Feeling Sick Before Crash

New details released today about the February 2009 crash of a Colgan Air Bombardier outside Buffalo, N.Y., in which 50 people died reveals the First Officer commented before takeoff that she felt so sick she should not be flying that day.

CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes reports that the National Transportation Safety Board has released the transcript of an extended cockpit conversation between Capt. Marvin Renslow and First Officer Rebecca Shaw as they were waiting to take off in Newark, N.J.

According to the transcript, Shaw said she felt so sick she shouldn't have come to work and was considering calling in sick the next day.

Colgan Air Flight 3407 (which was also tagged as a Continental Connection flight) fell from the sky on the evening of February 12, 2009. The Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 crashed into a house on its approach to Buffalo-Niagra International Airport.

All 49 people on board and one person on the ground were killed.

The NTSB also released a summary of an interview with Shaw's mother who says she wants to "set the record straight" about reporting that her daughter was too tired to fly and shouldn't have been commuting overnight from Seattle.

The NTSB also amended its transcripts of the cockpit recording to show that Shaw was sniffling constantly throughout the flight before the crash, as in this segment while the pilots were waiting for clearance to take off:

[sound of sniffle]

F.O. Shaw: Oh I'm ready to be in the hotel room.

Capt. Renslow: I feel feel feel bad for you as far as feeling **.

F.O. Shaw: Well this is one of those times that if I felt like this when I was at home there's no way I would have come all the way out here. But now that I'm out here.

Capt. Renslow: You might as well.

F.O. Shaw: I mean if I call in sick now I've got to put myself in a hotel until I feel better. you know we'll see how how it feels flying. If the pressure's just too much I you know I could always call in tomorrow at least I'm in a hotel on the company's buck but we'll see. I'm pretty tough.

[sound of sniffle]

Capt. Renslow: Oh that Airborne may help out a little bit.

F.O. Shaw: Yeah.

Capt. Renslow: You could kill it with uh you know a bunch of OJ or a bunch of vitamin C.

F.O. Shaw: Yeah I've got um got 'em to give me a a carton of orange juice to take home with me.


During the flight Shaw and Renslow discuss job-related topics, including the number of flight hours needed to qualify for positions or to even be granted interviews at airlines. Shaw remarks that "I'm still excited about flight time so [sound of laughter] I'm glad you know the more flight time I get the better."

Shaw: I told you that they dropped a four day trip from my PC check.

Renslow: Yeah yeah yeah.

Shaw: Yeah so I think I'm at like sixty five hours or so anyways. it it would take a lot of over to get me up there.

Cordes also reports that the NTSB released text messages Shaw sent to her husband before the flight after waking up from a nap in the crew room in Newark, in which she says she feels great:

2/12/2009 1105hrs: I feel soooo good, I took a nice 6 hour nap on the comfy recliner!

In her interview with NTSB, Lynn Morris described her daughter as a professional who took her job very seriously, was "not a careless person," and was someone who "did what she needed to do to go where she wanted to go in life. She was dedicated about her flying and had worked hard to get where she was."

She said her daughter was not tired or sick before the accident flight, and that Shaw had described herself as "refreshed" that day.

For more info:

  • NTSB Docket for Colgan Air Flight 3407
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