Ntsb Buffalo Flight Was Flying On Autopilot

02.16.09 | FL News Team

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board say Continental Airlines Flight 3407 had been taken off autopilot just seconds before it crashed in Clarence on Thursday night. It is unclear if the pilot was violating company policy by having the plane on autopilot.

Many airlines have rules that require pilots to disengage the autopilot in severe icy weather, but the extent of the icing condition last Thursday night is unknown. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

The pilot had reported ice build-up on the wings and windshield and the plane's de-icing mechanism had been engaged just 11 minutes after take-off from Newark. Officials investigating the fiery crash say the commuter flight fell 800 feet in five seconds shortly before the turbo-prop crashed into a home.

The remains of more than a dozen people have been recovered from the wreckage and investigators hope to finish their recovery work before a snowstorm arrives in the region on Wednesday. Fifty people were killed in the crash.