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Data recorders found in aircraft wreckage

  |   Feb. 13, 2009 at 10:04 PM
BUFFALO, N.Y., Feb. 13 (UPI) -- The flight crew of Continental Express Flight 3407 reported "significant" icing just before the plane crashed near Buffalo, N.Y., investigators said Friday.

Flight data and cockpit voice recorders from the downed plane were found in the wreckage Friday. The "black boxes," as they are commonly known, were sent to the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington, CNN reported.

NTSB officials said Friday after initial review of the flight data and cockpit voice recorders that the crew "discussed significant ice build-up" on the windshield and leading edges of the wings, The Buffalo News reported. Board member Steven R. Chealander said investigators had not concluded whether icing was a factor in the crash, but he said it can be a problem.

"Significant ice build-up is an aerodynamic impediment. Airplanes are built with wings that are shaped a certain way and ice can change the shape," he said.

Preliminary analysis of the flight data and cockpit voice recorders indicated that the aircraft's anti-icing system had been activated, but there was no indication whether it was functioning properly, the newspaper said.

The Bombardier Dash 8 Q-400, a 74-seat plane, was operated by a Continental feeder line, Colgan Air. The plane was en route from Newark, N.J., to Buffalo.

All 49 people on board the plane died in the crash late Thursday, including 44 passengers, four members of the crew and an off-duty pilot. Douglas C. Wielinski, 61, was killed on the ground, while his wife and daughter were injured, The Buffalo News reported.

New York Gov. David Paterson traveled to Clarence Center, where he spent time with relatives of the victims gathering near the crash site.

"Our hearts go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones," President Barack Obama said in a statement.

The flight crew reported problems as the plane, operated by Colgan Air for Continental Connection, approached the airport in Buffalo shortly after 10 p.m. Thursday, The Buffalo News said. At the time of the crash, the temperature was 33 degrees, with light snow and rain and visibility of 3 miles.

Officials at Continental Airlines, based in Houston, said representatives would assist Colgan in its response to the accident.

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