They Just Wanted To Have Fun | The Crash Of Pinnacle Airlines Flight 3701
- Published on: 2/24/2020
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This is the story of pinnacle airlines flight 3701. On the 14th of october 2004 a bombardier crj 200 was on a repositioning flight from little rock airport to minneapolis saint paul airport. This was a repositioning flight meaning that there weren't any passengers on board todays flight. The sole reason for todays flight was to get the plane to saint paul.
The plane departed little rock at 9:21 pm central daylight time. Shortly after take off, when the plane was at 450 feet the pilots pitched the plane up sharply, taking the nose up to 22 degrees and pulling about 1.8Gs during the maneuver. The plane started to climb at almost 3,000 fpm prompting the safety nets on the plane to activate. The automatic systems activated the stick shaker and the stick pusher, after which a full nose down was commanded. The plane climbed out at a much slower rate to their planned cruising altitude of 33,000 feet. The plane climbed, at about 9:25 pm as the plane approached 14,000 feet the autopilot was switched on and from the ATC transcripts and the CVR we know that the pilots swapped seats. Almost two minutes later the crew disengaged the autopilot at about 15,000 feet. The crew again pulled the column back putting the airplane in a 17 degree nose up attitude. The climb rate exceeded 10,000 fpm as the plane screeched upwards. The plane was now experiencing about 2.3 gs of load. The plane was being flown in a way that it was not mean to be. They climbed and as they levelled off at 26,400 feet the crew pointed the nose up again this time climbing at over 9000 fpm.
At 9:35 pm the crew of the plane ask ATC for clearance to climb to 41,000 feet well in excess of their planned 33,000 feet. As it turns out this was the absolute ceiling of the CRJ-200, The plane would not be able to go any higher. ATC allows the plane to climb to 41,000 feet. At 9:48 pm the first officer says “Man we can do it. Forty one it.”. At 9:51 pm the first officer can be heard saying ““There’s four one oh my man.” they had done it they were cruising at 41,000 feet and the first officer laughs and says “This is great”. The plane had started the climb at 203 knots and now at cruise they were at 163 knots. The captain then leaves his seat to get his copilot a soda.
At 9:53 pm kansas city ARCTCC comes on and asks the crew if theyre flying a crj 200. The captain acknowledges. The controller says “I’ve never seen you guys up at forty one there”. The captain replies with “We don’t have any passengers on board so we decided to have a little fun and come on up here.” he adds “this is actually our service ceiling.”
At 9:54 Pm the first officer says “we’re losing here. We’re gonnabe ... coming down in a second here.” the first officer was drawing attention to the fact that The plane could reach 41,000 feet but it could not sustain it for long. The captain says “Yeah that’s funny we got up here it won’t stay up here.”
At 9:54 and 32 seconds the captain radios “It looks like we're not even going to be able to stay up here ... look for maybe ... three nine oh or three seven.”. 4 seconds later the stick shaker activates their speed had now slipped to 150 knots and they had an angle of attack of 7.5. They were in the thin air of the upper atmosphere losing speed and in a nose up attitude. In about 10 seconds the stick shaker and the stick pusher activated 3 times.
Adding to their troubles fan speed on both engines were dropping. At 9:57 pm the stick pusher had activated for a fourth time. Even with the stick pusher the nose of the airplane crept up the angle of attack was at 27 degrees and the pitch was at 29. Flight 3701 was stalling. In the stall the plane began to roll to the left with the left wing in a 82 degree wing down attitude. The picth of the plane now dropped to -32 degrees and engines one and two flamed out.
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