Fuel exhaustion suspected in LaMia Avro RJ85 crash

Considerable evidence is emerging that the crash of the LaMia Bolivia Avro RJ85 in Rionegro, Colombia, may have been due to fuel exhaustion. Avro RJ85 CP-2933 (msn E2348) crashed while on approach to Rionegro Airport, outside Medellín, Colombia, on 28 November. Four passengers and two LaMia employees (a flight attendant and an engineer) survived the crash; a seventh survivor died of his injuries. The flight had departed from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, in Bolivia, on a charter flight for the Chapecoense Real football team, with 68 passengers and nine LaMia employees aboard. At just about 1,600nm, the flight was an extremely long one for an RJ85, particularly with a relatively heavy load. Indeed, the flight plan showed an estimated time en route that was identical to the estimated endurance, with no provision for fuel to an alternate, or to hold. The pilot, who was also one of the airline’s owners, had apparently made similar long flights in the past with CP-2933, and thought that he could make it. As CP-2933 neared Rionegro, however, she was requested to hold as a VivaColombia Airbus A320 was landing with a suspected fuel leak. CP-2933 made two circuits in the hold before alerting ATC to a total electrical failure and fuel exhaustion. ATC cleared CP-2933 for an immediate approach and diverted other traffic, but it was too late. Consistent with the hypothesis of fuel exhaustion, there were no signs of fire at the crash site. The CVR and FDR have been recovered in good condition. Colombian authorities are leading the investigation into the crash.

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