Friday, December 02, 2016

Dame Fortune Frowned

"We request priority to proceed to the runway, we request priority to proceed to the locator."
"We have fuel problems."
"Now we have a total electric failure, we have a total electric failure."
"Help -- we need vectors to approach the runway."
LaMia flight crew

"The research now being carried out by national and international aviation experts, based on the aircraft’s black boxes, as well as technical examinations, will seek in the shortest possible time the results that will allow us to establish the causes of this unfortunate tragedy."
"[A lack of fuel was] most probably what caused this tragedy [but nothing had been confirmed]."
Alfredo Bocanegra, director of Aerocivil

"Many passengers got up from their seats and started yelling."
"I put the bag between my legs and went into the foetal position as recommended."
Erwin Tumiri, Bolivian flight technician, crash survivor

Rescue teams work in the recovery the bodies of victims of the LAMIA airlines charter that crashed in the mountains of Cerro Gordo, municipality of La Union, Colombia, on November 29, 2016
Rescue teams work in the recovery the bodies of victims of the LAMIA airlines charter that crashed in the mountains of Cerro Gordo, municipality of La Union, Colombia, on November 29, 2016    
Raul Arboled / AFP / Getty Images
Another stunning tragedy, with yet another Latin American sport team losing their lives in a flight to a game. An ill-conceived decision to fly with an airliner using short-distance planes capable of going so far and no further. The time allotted from departure to arrival would have worked, with sufficient fuel for the trip as long as the flight encountered no problems, there would be no need to deviate from the direct route contemplated, and that, in gambling parlance is taking a chance that fate would not intervene.

It did, predictably enough, when bad weather set in, delaying the flight and causing it to run out of fuel.

A short-haul plane operated by a charter airline was not the wisest course. But the team had flown previously with the same LaMia charter and thought highly of its services. On that previous occasion they had scored an important game victory, and hoped for similar results this time around on the Brazilian soccer team's Chapecoense plan to play in the Copa Sudamerica final in Medellin against Atletico Nacional.

Of the 77 souls aboard the ill-fated flight, 71 died in the crash, with six survivors left to detail what they had experienced. Just moments before the flight crew of the doomed plane contacted traffic control to advise of their plight, another aircraft had experienced cabin problems and had arranged with air traffic control at the Jose Maria Cordova International airport for an emergency landing.

The Viva Colombia flight was already in descent mode when the LaMia plane made their plea and was refused.


Luis Benavides / Associated Press
Luis Benavides / Associated Press  Rescue workers arrange the bodies of victims of the airplane crash.
 
The LaMia plane soon afterward crashed in La Union, a mountainous area in the Andes, outside Medellin, Colombia. Three members of the Chapecoense team survived the crash, along with three other passengers.But before the flight crashed, a co-pilot from airline Avianca, in flight at the same time as the LaMia aircraft, overheard the desperate discourse between the the captain and the air traffic control. It too was awaiting permission to land.

The cockpit crew of the Avianca heard the exchanges and waited with bated breath for the outcome, hoping for the best. LaMia pilot Miguel Quiroga begged the control tower for permission to land, according to Juan Sebastian Upegui, a co-pilot from Avianca. The charter plane had descended to 9,000 feet, and pilot Quiroga was pleading for their assistance at the control tower. 

As he sat in the cockpit of the Avianca plane, pilot Upegui strained his will to somehow, miraculously convince the fates that the other pilot's jet could make it. "I was saying, 'do it, do it -- land'." And then, finally, there was one last plea and everything fell silent on the radio; the outcome well known to the crew listening, tears streaming down their faces.


Raul Arboled / AFP / Getty Images
Raul Arboled / AFP / Getty Images    Rescue and forensic teams recover the bodies of victims of the LAMIA airlines charter that crashed in the mountains of Cerro Gord

Labels: , , ,

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Follow @rheytah Tweet