Flight Attendant Suggests Team's Plane Was Out of Fuel

Cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder are already being examined
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 30, 2016 6:21 AM CST
Updated Nov 30, 2016 6:39 AM CST
Flight Attendant Suggests Team's Plane Was Out of Fuel
Rescue workers stand at the wreckage site of a chartered airplane that crashed in a mountainous area outside Medellin, Colombia, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016.    (Luis Benavides)

Colombia's worst air crash in two decades snuffed out a storybook run by a Brazilian soccer team, and authorities are digging in trying to figure out why a chartered jetliner crashed in the Andes, killing all but six of the 77 people now reported to have been aboard; 20 journalists were among the dead. The latest:

  • The AP reports the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder are already being examined in an attempt to get at the cause of the crash, which was originally attributed to an electrical failure. But a flight attendant who survived reported the plane ran out of fuel just before it was to land at Jose Maria Cordova airport outside Medellin.
  • The British Aerospace 146 Avro short-haul jet had a maximum range of around 1,600 nautical miles—about the distance between Santa Cruz, where the plane departed from, and Medellin. An aviation expert tells the AP that air distance between cities is usually measured by the shortest route but planes rarely fly in a straight line, with pilots steering around turbulence, for example. There was also heavy rain when the crew declared an emergency Monday night.

  • ABC News reports it may have been a "nightmare scenario": Flight data indicates the plane circled three times just outside Medellin. The airport it was headed to is an infamously challenging one, located in a mountainous region at 7,000 feet, an elevation that necessitates a high-speed approach.
  • Three players from the Chapecoense team survived the crash but sustained serious injuries, reports Reuters: Goalkeeper Jackson Follmann has had his right leg amputated; defender Helio Neto suffered severe trauma to the skull, thorax, and lungs; and Alan Ruschel underwent spine surgery.
  • A heart-wrenching final statement, per the AP: Moments before the plane took off, the team's coaching staff gave an interview to a Bolivian television station in which they praised the airline, saying it brought them good fortune when it flew them to Colombia last month for the championship's quarterfinals, which they won. "Now we're going to do this new trip and we hope they bring us good luck like they did the first time," athletic director Mauro Stumpf told Gigavision TV.
(More plane crash stories.)

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