The uncontrollable giant plane crashed, hundreds of people died

The uncontrollable giant plane crashed, hundreds of people died
The uncontrollable giant plane crashed, hundreds of people died

1. The co-pilot did not report an emergency, the fuel ran out

Avianca Flight 052 flew from Bogotá to New York on January 25, 1990. Due to the bad weather, there was a lot of congestion at the airport and in the air, so the controllers directed the arriving planes to waiting areas. During the wait, the fuel quantity of the Colombian Boeing 707 decreased sharply, so the captain’s attention was increasingly concerned with this question. Therefore, the on-board engineer reminded the two pilots of the rules for a possible take-off in case of low fuel.

Flight Engineer: When you have a thousand pounds of fuel in the tanks, the manual says to only increase thrust slowly when stalling and climb only minimally.
Captain: At least what?
First Officer: You can climb with a minimum angle.
Flight Engineer: Then the flaps should be set to the 20 or 25 position and the reference speed plus 20 knots should be maintained.

Avianca’s Boeing 707 suffered a disasterSource: Wikipedia

The plane continued its flight towards Kennedy Airport. The crew members talked about the tasks, setting up the navigation devices and radios. Here again, it came up how to make a skid with little fuel.

Captain: Tune the radios. And don’t forget that we can only climb at a small angle when passing.
Flight Engineer: That’s right, it’s important because of the fuel pumps. If the pitch angle is too high, fuel flow can stop and the engines can stall.
First Officer: Heading 300 degrees. We are 17 miles from the airport.
Captain: I bought it.
First Officer: Soon we will have hamburgers for dinner.
Controls: Avianca 052 heavy, descend to 3k feet and hold altitude.
First Officer: 3,000 feet and we’re holding, Avianca 052 heavy.
Flight Engineer: We are being ushered onto the track.
First Officer: We are welcome.

It is here that the question of whether the control is aware of how little fuel the Colombian plane has is first raised in the cockpit.

Deck Engineer: They know we’re in a bad situation.
Captain: They don’t know.
First Officer: Descend to two thousand feet.
Captain: According to them, they know when we can sink.
First Officer: We got priority. (This was not the case, the staff was mistaken, as it later turned out. Author’s note.)
Control: Avianca 052 heavy, turn to direction 250. They’re 15 miles from the outer radio transmitter, hold 2,000 feet until you’re on the glide path. Landing is permitted on runway 22 left.

Route of flight 052 until impactSource: Wikipedia

Ground control handed flight 052 over to Kennedy Airport controllers, who helped the pilots land. The tower asked the Avianca pilots to gradually reduce their speed because there were many planes in line towards the airport and they were not allowed to get too close to each other. The Boeing 707 eventually approached the airport safely, but the pilots lost sight of the runway at the last moment in bad weather.

First Officer: The wind is blowing slightly from the left. We are under the ski slope.
Deck Engineer: Glider!
//The horn of the ground proximity indicator sounds.//
Ground Proximity Indicator: Rise, rise, rise.
First Officer: Vertical speed!
Ground Proximity Indicator: Rise, rise, rise.
Captain: Where are the track lights?
Ground Proximity Indicator: Rise, rise, rise.
Captain: Where is the track?
Ground Proximity Indicator: Rise, rise, rise.
Captain: Where the hell is the airstrip?
Ground Proximity Indicator: Rise, rise, rise.
First officer: I don’t see it either!
//The captain then decided to transfer.//
Captain: Runner in. Ask the tower for a new approach.
First officer: Avianca 052 has crashed.
Flight engineer: Be careful with the pitch angle, don’t raise the plane so much. Carefully, delicately!

When the plane took off after the botched approach, the controllers had no idea how serious the Colombian flight was.

Kennedy Tower: Avianca 052 heavy, I bought it. Climb to 2,000 feet, hold that altitude and turn left 180 degrees.
Captain: We have no fuel.
First Officer: We climb to 2,000 feet, turn 180 degrees. We will try to land again.
Captain: I don’t know where the track went. Disappeared.
Flight engineer: I didn’t see it either.
First Officer: Me neither.
Captain: Report an emergency.
First Officer: Kennedy Tower, we turn left 180 degrees. I repeat, we are running low on fuel. Kennedy Tower: Okay.
Captain: What did he say?
First Officer: To keep the 2,000 feet on a 180 degree course. I told him we’d try again.

The captain was unsure about declaring an emergency, so he asked the first officer again.

Captain: Did you tell him we were in an emergency? Did you report an emergency?
First Officer: Yes, sir. I already told him.

Unfortunately, this was a mistake, because although the first officer did say that he was low on fuel, he did not properly report an emergency.

//The machine then moved from the tower to another control sector.//
Control: Avianca 052 heavy, this is New York, good evening. Climb to 3k and hold that altitude.
Captain: Tell him we’re out of fuel.
First Officer: Got it, we’re climbing to 3,000 feet. And, er, sir, we’re about to run out of fuel.

Inexplicably, this second controller didn’t ask back when he heard the fuel problem either.

Control: Okay, continue flying at 180 degrees.
Captain: Did you tell him you were out of fuel?
First Officer: Yes, sir. We have to keep 3,000 meters on a 180-degree course. He will call us back. Captain: Okay.

The controller soon did report, but because he did not know that the captain wanted to report an emergency, he still did not put the Boeing 707 first.

Control: Avianca 052 heavy, I will guide you 15 miles northwest, from there I will turn you back for the approach. Does this match their fuel level?
First Officer: I think so, thank you.
Captain: What did he say?
Flight engineer: I think the controller is angry.
Captain: The heading is 070, right?
First Officer: 070, hold 3k feet.
Captain: Well, I’ll keep this… until we die.

Time and the luck of the passengers of the Avianca flight then ran out.

Controls: Avianca 52, climb to 3,000 feet.
First Officer: Negative, sir. We’re about to run out of fuel.
Directions: Okay, turn left, heading 310.
Captain: Brake wing 14.
Flight Engineer: Sir, not yet… the fuel…
Captain: Brake wing 14.
Directions: Avianca 52, turn 360. You are the second to land.
First Officer: Okay, we’re second, on 360.
Flight engineer: Engine four has stopped! That’s enough for four.
//The recording on the on-board voice recorder is interrupted for a moment when the engine runs out of fuel.//
Captain: I bought it, the four stopped.
Deck engineer: The triple stops as well, we lose the triple.
Captain: Show me the course? Where is the track?
First Officer: Controls, this is Avianca 052. We just lost two of our engines. Priority is requested!

The first officer still did not say that it was an emergency, but now the controller understood how serious the situation was.

Directions: Avianca 052, turn left onto 250.
//In the recording, the noise of the engines is getting quieter as the blades of the gas turbines slow down.//
First Officer: 250, I bought it.
Captain: Switch to ILS.
First Officer: ILS is working. It’s on the two of them.
Captain: Okay, let’s see.
Control: Avianca 052, distance 15 miles, keep 2k feet until you get on the airstrip. Landing allowed on runway 22.
First Officer: Roger, Avianca.

This is all that can be heard on the recording:

Control: Avianca 052, do you have enough fuel to land?
Control: Avianca 052, here New York Control.
Control: Avianca 052, we have lost radar contact with you.

The airliner crashed into the garden of a houseSource: Wikipedia

The Boeing 707 then crashed near a Long Island village. The plane knocked down several trees and electricity poles and broke into several pieces upon impact. 73 of its 158 passengers died, including 8 members of the 9-person crew. Accident investigators not only considered the procedures of the Colombian airline and the actions of the pilots to be bad, but also blamed the management in New York. In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration has been criticized for not clearly and strictly regulating how controllers should handle the situation in the event of suspected low fuel.

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The article is in Hungarian

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