On 29th November at 02:56 Zulu time, LAMIA Bolivia charter flight LMI2933, crashed into mountainous terrain South of Medellín, Colombia with 68 passengers and 9 crew onboard.
The aircraft was carrying the Brazilian football team Chapecoense to Medellin for a match. Aerocivil Colombia reported that six occupants have survived the incident, however one is believed to have died in hospital since.
The aircraft involved was 17 year old Avro RJ85 CP-2933 (MSN E2348), the sole aircraft in the airline’s fleet. Flight LMI2933 was an un-scheduled passenger flight from Santa Cruz-Viru Viru International Airport (VVI/SLVR), Bolivia to Rionegro/Medellín-José María Córdova Airport (MDE/SKRG), Colombia.
The crew had reported an electrical problem onboard shortly before disappearing off radar screens around 15-20 nautical miles South Medellín, near the municipality of El Ceja.
Colombian Air Force have deployed search and rescue forces to the crash site located between La Ceja and Medellin, which is only accessible by land as helicopters can not operate due to fog which is causing low visibility.
Early speculation is that the aircraft crashed due to lack of fuel, which has been partially confirmed by an investigation conducted by the Colombian Civil Aviation Authority (CCAA). In a statement, the CCAA reported that there was “no evidence of fuel on the aircraft.” No fire was reported at the crash site either.
LMI2933 was enroute at FL300 and started the descent towards Medellin about 80nm South of Medellin at 02:34Z. The aircraft descended to FL210 and entered a holding pattern South of La Ceja at 02:48Z, joined the approach at 02:54Z descending through FL190 and disappeared from radar at 02:56Z descending through FL155.
The last transponder data were received from the aircraft at 02:56Z as the aircraft descended through FL155 about 11 nautical miles SouthEast of Medellín’s Rio Negro Airport.
The authorities have now recovered the aircraft’s two black boxes. The authorities say both are in “perfect conditions”. An investigation will begin soon.
The Colombian authorities have revised the death toll: there are 72 fatalities in total, instead of the initial 76. Six people were found alive, but one later died in the hospital. Four did not board.
Audio of an audition of an Avianca pilot which was on the same ATC frequency as the ill fated aircraft’s pilots has been posted on YouTube by Javier Rullan Ruano.
If the audio and its content is proven to be true, fuel could have certainly been a cause of the crash.
We will continue to keep you updated on this topic.