Aviation and rescue authorities were racing to the scene last night after a chartered BAe 146 aircraft carrying 81 people, including a Brazilian football team, crashed in central Colombia.
Initial reports said five or six passengers had survived. The crash happened in dense fog and darkness, about 10.15pm local time. The plane was carrying 72 passengers and nine crew and the flight deck had reported “electrical issues” before the crash, one report said.
The crash is a tragic anomaly in an era when aviation is becoming ever safer, statistically. According to data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the 2015 global jet accident rate (measured in hull losses per 1 million flights) was 0.32, which was the equivalent of one major accident for every 3.1 million flights. That is phenomenally safe.
Yesterday’s crash was LaMia Airlines flight 2933. It was flying the Brazilian football team Associação Chapecoense de Futebol from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, to José María Córdova International Airport in Medellín, Colombia. The team was on its way to play the 2016 South American Cup (Copa Sudamericana) final against Atlético Nacional.
The South American soccer federation has cancelled all activities until further notice as a mark of respect.
For football fans, the crash evokes the Manchester United air disaster of 1958, when British European Airways flight 609 crashed on take-off from Munich-Riem Airport, West Germany. The flight was carrying the Manchester United football team, along with supporters and journalists. There were 23 fatalities and 21 survivors.
Air travel is vastly safer now, but still not infallible.
Written by Peter Needham