Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Investigators Probe Fuel Exhaustion In Jet Crash

Investigators examining the crash of a chartered Avro RJ85 this week in Colombia are focusing on the possibility that the jet flew a route that exceeded its fuel range. The aircraft, operated by Bolivian charter company LaMia, crashed in a rugged area short of its destination in Medellin late Monday, killing 71 of the 77 people on board. Reports of fuel exhaustion had emerged soon after the accident due to the lack of fuel in the wreckage or a post-crash fire.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that an analysis of the chartered route from Viru Viru International Airport in Bolivia to José María Cordova International Airport in Colombia shows a distance of 1,839 miles. The Avro’s range is about 1,842 miles. In addition, a Colombian aviation official said the jet flew a holding pattern while two airliners were approaching Medellin, according to the Journal’s report. “They did say ‘emergency,’ but at the very end, when it was too late,” he said.

The jet’s passengers included a group of journalists and members of a Brazilian soccer team who were to compete in the Copa Sudamericana tournament. Audio recordings obtained by news outlets show a crew member reporting an electrical failure and lack of fuel to ATC, according to CNN. 

Colombian media also quoted the copilot of a Colombian airliner who said he and the captain heard the LaMia jet crew reporting “fuel problems” without declaring an emergency, the Wall Street Journal reported. CNN also said the co-pilot witnessed the moments before the crash, saying “we even saw the plane lights as it was going down.”

(Elaine Kauh - AVweb)

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