British investigators fly to Colombia to help examine plane crash

Team from Air Accident Investigation Bureau will help Colombian officials as crashed plane was built in UK

British investigators are flying out to Colombia to help the national authorities establish what caused the plane carrying the Chapecoense football team to crash.

The Air Accident Investigation Bureau said it was following standard international protocol by sending a team to help Colombia’s Aeronautica Civil, as the Avro RJ85 aircraft was built in Britain.

The plane, a variant of the BAE146 model which went out of production in 2002, was manufactured by British Aerospace, now part of BAE Systems. Representatives from BAE Systems will join the AAIB team in assisting the investigation.

The plane that crashed in Colombia first flew in 1999 and for three years was part of the CityJet fleet, which mainly operates in and out of Dublin and London City airports. The Avro RJ85, with four jet engines, was designed as a short-haul or regional passenger plane, carrying a maximum of 100 passengers and able to descend steeply on landing onto short runways.

A statement from José Maria Córdova airport in Medellín suggested a technical fault in the plane could have played a part. The airport said that pilots had declared an emergency at 10pm on Monday citing electrical failures.

The aircraft, on a charter flight operated by Bolivian carrier LaMia, crashed in mountainous terrain approximately 18 miles (30km) south of the airport on the second leg of its journey from Brazil.

Plane carrying Brazil’s Chapecoense football team crashes in Colombia – video report

The plane did not catch fire after crash landing, although it is as yet unclear whether pilots dumped fuel to prevent an explosion on impact, or if the plane somehow ran out of fuel on the long leg from Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia.

The AAIB team consists of three accident investigators specialising in operations, engineering and flight data recorders. The team, along with BAE staff, is expected to arrive in Medellín on Wednesday.


Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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