Screams, ‘We’re down,’ recorded in cockpit of crashing plane

An investigator walks past the wreckage from a plane crash in Clarence Center, New York, in February.
The pilot of a doomed plane that crashed, killing 50 people, said "Jesus Christ" and "We’re down," seconds before the plane hurtled from the night sky into a house outside Buffalo, New York, in February.

The last sound heard in the cockpit was First Officer Rebecca Shaw saying, “We’re –” before she screamed at 10:16 p.m. on February 12, according to a transcript of the cockpit recording. Seconds earlier, the pilot, Capt. Marvin Renslow, said, “Jesus Christ,” as a sound “similar to stick shaker” was heard, the transcript said. Renslow said, “We’re down,” and a thump was heard before Shaw said, “We’re –” and screamed. The National Transportation Safety Board released the transcript of the cockpit recording on Tuesday as it began a three-day hearing in Washington on the crash. See how crash of Flight 3407 unfolded » Continental Connection Flight 3407, operated by regional carrier Colgan Air, plunged into a house in Clarence Center, New York, killing all 49 people on board and one man in the house. NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker told the panel that the three-day hearing will not address who is to blame for the accident. “Over the course of this hearing, we will continue to collect information that will assist the safety board in its examination of safety issues arising from this accident,” he said.

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He said those issues are airplane performance, cold weather operations, sterile cockpit, flight crew training and performance, and fatigue management. In a story Monday, the Wall Street Journal cited investigators as saying the crash resulted from pilot Marvin Renslow’s incorrect response to the plane’s precarious drop in speed: He overrode an emergency system known as a “stick pusher,” which sends the plane into a dive so it can regain speed and avoid a stall. The Journal’s report said Colgan had not provided Renslow with hands-on flight-simulator training for a stick-pusher emergency. Colgan, in rebuttal, issued a statement saying that Renslow had received classroom instruction for such an emergency. The company also emphasized that the Federal Aviation Administration does not require pilots to receive a stick-pusher demonstration in a flight simulator.