Aviation

On this day in 1996, Aeroperú Flight 603 crashed in the Pacific Ocean

Exactly 26 years ago today, Wednesday, October 2, 1996, Aeroperú Flight 603 crashed in the Pacific Ocean near Lima, killing all 70 passengers and crew. The plane involved in the fatal crash was three years old Boeing 757-23A registered N52AW. The aircraft was delivered new by Boeing on 2 December 1992 to Ansett Worldwide, which then leased it to Aeromexico, which subsequently sub-leased it to Aeroperú on 1 April 1995.


Route map. Image: GCmaps

The flight was piloted by Captain Eric Schreiber Ladron de Guevara, 58, who had logged 22,000 hours, including 1,520 on the Boeing 757. Assisting the captain was First Officer David Fernandez Revaredo, 42, who had logged 8,000 hours. hours, of which 719 are on Boeing 757.

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The plane crashed after taking off from Lima

Aeroperú Flight 603 was a scheduled flight from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport in Santiago, Chile (SCL), with stopovers in Quito, Ecuador, and Lima, Peru.

After arriving in Lima, all passengers disembarked from 60, transferring to another Boeing 757 for the onward journey to Chile. The plane took off from runway 15 of the Jorge Chavez International Airport (LIM) at 00:42 local time. Shortly after takeoff, the crew noticed that their primary flight instruments were behaving strangely and reported that they were receiving conflicting serial emergency messages from the plane’s on-board computer. Conflicting messages included altitude and airspeed indicator, rudder gears, Mach speed differential, overspeed, underspeed, and flying too low. Concerned about their situation, the crew immediately declared an emergency and asked to return to Lima.

The pilots mistakenly believed that with the help of the air traffic controller they could determine the real altitude of the plane. However, they did not know that the controller was seeing the same readings as they were, as all the information was relayed to the controller from the plane’s Mode C transponder. Neither the pilots nor the controller knew the real height of the plane.

The flight was at night and over water

Believing they were at a safe altitude, the crew began their descent to Lima. The problem was that it was nighttime and the flight was over water with no visual reference to indicate their actual altitude or to assist in landing at the airport.

Consequently, the aircraft stalled several times, increasing the rate of descent, while the altimeter erroneously reported that they were flying at 9,700 feet. The actual altitude of the plane was much lower than they had assumed. To help direct the plane to the Lima airport Department of Internal Affairs instructed a Boeing 707 to get into the air and help them navigate. Unfortunately for the crew and 61 passengers, it was too late and the plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean.

Investigation

The Accident Investigation Commission (CAI) of the Director General of Air Transport (DGAT) of Peru will lead the investigation with the assistance of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). After requesting assistance in locating the wreckage, the US Navy provided the equipment needed to recover the aircraft. Duct tape was applied to some static holes in the lower fuselage. It turned out that Aeroperu employee Eleuterio Chacoliaso forgot to remove the tape after washing and polishing the plane.

Aircraft static ports are vital to virtually all of the aircraft’s flight instruments, providing basic information such as airspeed and altitude. Most aircraft have unique, brightly colored static port covers for use when cleaning or storing the aircraft with a “remove before flight” label. Unfortunately, the Boeing 757 did not, and an Aeroperú employee used duct tape to close the static ports.

As a result, all the readings the pilots saw were wrong. In the final report, investigators concluded that the plane’s crew was confused by conflicting data and that a night flight over water without virtual references led to the crash.

https://simpleflying.com/aeroperu-flight-603-crash-anniversary/ On this day in 1996, Aeroperú Flight 603 crashed in the Pacific Ocean

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