Chapecoense Crash: Operated Without Mandatory Fuel Reserves

Colombia’s Civil Aviation Authority has officially confirmed that the Bolivian BAe Avro RJ85 operated by Lamia crashed near Medellin with empty fuel tanks.

During a press conference held on 30 November, Aerocivil’s Secretary of Aviation Safety Freddy Bonilla assures that “the aircraft did not operate with the mandatory fuel reserves mandated by international regulations”.

He said that Lamia’s flight plan had established as the alternative airport Bogota, which is slightly less distant from de Santa Cruz (Bolivia) than Medellin, indicating, however, that “the aircraft had not loaded sufficient fuel for an eventual diversion back to the alternative airport, nor for the internationally established 35min fuel reserve”.

Bonilla also confirmed that the actual distance between Santa Cruz and Medellin on the route followed by the Lamia flight was 1,588nm. “We will investigate why Lamia authorised a flight, which [taking into account the mandatory reserves] was beyond the range of the aircraft [1,600 NM]”.

He also confirmed the authenticity of the ATC recording that had been filtered to FlightGlobal and some other media, but said that he could “not confirm if the recording was complete, resembling the exact timing of the sequence of events.”

“We are working with specialists from Bolivia, Brazil, the UK and the US to reach the final conclusions as soon as possible”, he concluded.

Previously, Bolivia’s Civil Aviation Authority DGAC had declared almost immediately after the accident that Lamia had its AOC in order, the aircraft maintenance record correct and both pilots’ licenses up-to-date.

Incidentally, DGAC’s director of aircraft registries, Gustavo Vargas Villegas, is the son of Lamia’s owner, Gustavo Vargas Gamboa.

In addition to establishing any aircraft’s operational specifications as part of the registry process, one of the attributions of Vargas Villegas’ role at the DGAC is the safe custody of all documents and informations related to any Bolivian registered aircraft involved in an incident or accident.

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