Aviation Authority Confirms Chapecoense Plane Crash Caused by Aircraft Running Out of Fuel, Human Error
Colombian aviation authorities have revealed that the November plane crash that killed 71 people, including most members of Brazilian football team Chapecoense, was caused by the plane running out of fuel.
The pilot failed to stop to refuel during a route that stretched the maximum range of the LaMia-operated flight from Santa Cruz in Bolivia to Medellín. He also did not report the engine trouble resulting from the lack of fuel until it was too late for the British Aerospace Avro RJ85 plane to avoid crashing into the Andean mountainside.
“No technical factor was part of the accident, everything involved human error,” said Colonel Freddy Bonilla of Colombia’s Aerocivil regulator in a press conference yesterday. He said that the pilots “were aware of the fuel limitations they had” and also laid blame on authorities in Bolivia who oversaw and approved the flight plan.
Pilot Miguel Quiroga was a partial owner of the Bolivian charter airline and died in the crash. LaMia’s top executive, Gustavo Vargas Gamboa, was charged with manslaughter, and criminal charges have been brought against airline co-owner Marco Antonio Rocha Benegas. At least one former member of the Bolivian aviation authority as well as an air traffic controller in the country have also been charged with crimes related to the accident.
LaMia was hired by Chapecoense to transport the team to the Sudamericana Cup final in Medellín. It was slated to play local powerhouse Atlético Nacional in what would have been the biggest game in the Brazilian team’s history. Three members of the team survived the crash, as did two flight crew members and one Brazilian journalist traveling to cover the game.
Aerocivil’s findings are based upon an investigation by 23 experts, including 13 aviation professionals from Colombia and 10 from Brazil, Bolivia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The agency says it will continue to study the crash before issuing a final report in April.