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A commuter airliner that crashed Thursday in upstate New York, killing 50 people, underwent violent pitching and rolling seconds before impact, with passengers experiencing twice the normal force of gravity, a federal investigator said Sunday.

The plane's final 800-foot fall took five seconds, Steve Chealander of the National Transportation Safety Board said.

The aircraft crashed into a home in Clarence Center, New York, near Buffalo, on Thursday night, killing all 49 people aboard. A 61-year-old man in the house died also, but his wife and daughter survived.

Final motions of the aircraft were so drastic that the plane's autopilot automatically disengaged and warnings sounded, Chealander said, citing information from the plane's flight data and cockpit voice recorders. Also, a "stick-shaker" device, which noisily vibrates an airplane's controls to warn the pilot of imminent stall, kicked in, he said.

The flight crew of Continental Connection Flight 3407, operated by Colgan Air, discussed "significant" ice buildup on the aircraft's windshield and wings before the crash, and icing has become a focus as a possible cause. Follow the plane's path Read full article »

All About Buffalo (New York)U.S. National Transportation Safety BoardContinental Airlines Inc.Federal Aviation Administration

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