Colombian aviation authorities said Monday that an airliner that crashed with a Brazilian soccer team aboard had run out of fuel before it could land, reports the AP. Seventy-one people died in the Nov. 28 accident. A statement by the Civil Aeronautics agency said the conclusion was based on the plane's black boxes and other evidence. It said the evidence points to human error rather than technical problems or sabotage. Experts had earlier suggested that fuel exhaustion was a likely cause of the crash that wiped out all but a few members of the Chapocoense soccer team, as well as team officials and journalists accompanying them to a championship playoff match in Medellin, Colombia.
The BAE 146 Avro RJ85 has a maximum range of 1,600 nautical miles—just under the distance between Medellin and Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where the plane had taken off at almost full capacity. The plane was in the air for about four hours and 20 minutes when air traffic controllers in Medellin put it into a holding pattern because another flight had reported a suspected fuel leak and was given priority. In a recording of a radio message from the pilot of the LaMia flight, he can be heard repeatedly requesting permission to land due to a lack of fuel and a "total electric failure." A surviving flight attendant and a pilot flying nearby also overheard the frantic pleas from the doomed airliner. In addition, there was no explosion upon impact, pointing to a scarcity of fuel.