Chapecoense plane crash: Jet carrying Brazilian football team may have run out of fuel
Authorities are digging in trying to figure out why a chartered jetliner carrying a team of Brazilian footballers on a fairytale professional football run crashed in the Andes, killing all but six of the 77 people aboard.
After Colombia's worst air crash in two decades the country's aviation agency says the British Aerospace 146's cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder has been found among the wreckage strewn over a mountainside.
It was already being studied by experts.
Initially, Colombian officials said the short-haul jet suffered an electrical failure, but there was also heavy rain when the crew declared an emergency and the plane disappeared from radar just before 10pm local time on Monday (4pm Tuesday NZT).
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Authorities also said they were not ruling out the possibility the aircraft ran out of fuel minutes before it was to land at Jose Maria Cordova airport outside Medellin.
It was a report given to rescuers by a surviving flight attendant.
Officials said they hoped to interview her on Thursday (NZT).
The aircraft is owned by LaMia, a charter company that started in Venezuela but later relocated to Bolivia, where it was certified to operate last January. Despite apparently limited experience, the airline has a close relationship with several premier South American soccer squads.
Before being taken offline, LaMia's website said it operated three 146 Avro short-haul jets made by British Aerospace, with a maximum range of around 2,965 kilometres - about the distance between Santa Cruz and Medellin.
Hans Weber, a longtime adviser to US aviation authorities, said the aircraft's range deserves careful investigation.
He noted that air distance between cities is usually measured by the shortest route but planes rarely fly in a straight line, with pilots steering around turbulence or changing course for other reasons.
Given the model of the plane and the fact that it was flying close to capacity, "I would be concerned that the pilots may have been cutting it too close," Weber said.
A spokesman for Bolivia's civil aviation agency, Cesar Torrico, said the plane was inspected before departing for Colombia and no problems were reported.
Earlier this month, the plane involved in the crash transported Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and Argentina's national team from Brazil following a World Cup qualifying match.
The airliner also appeared to have transported the national squads of Brazil, Bolivia and Venezuela in the last three months, according to a log of recent activity provided by Flightradar24.com.