quotare you coming to pick us upquot The plane quotcrazyquot

"are you coming to pick us up". The plane "crazy" which capsized in the Pacific

It is the evening of October 2nd, 1996, when a Boeing 727 of the Peruvian airline AeroPeru lands at the airport “Jorge Chavez” in Lima. Many of the passengers should have finished their flight while the remaining 61 changed planes towards Santiago de Chile, but a few minutes after take-off onboard instrumentation It seems crazy, the pilots lose control of the vehicle that crashes into the Pacific, taking the passengers with it.

The dynamics of the accident

At the top of the flight Aero Peru 603 there is Captain Erich Schreiber, chief of the flag fleet and very experienced pilot. The external inspection of the Boeing 757 by the superiors and the painter went without any objections, then Schreiber carried out the last check before departure, and at 00.40 the Boeing took off to reach the “Arturo Merino Benitez” airport in Santiago.

After one minute of flight, the pilots found that the altimeters were not reading the aircraft’s actual altitude, but continued to show a zero altitude reading, even though the aircraft was climbing. Captain Schreiber and co-pilot David Fernández are perturbed as to what is happening during the alarm In the dressing room they start playing. Show altimeter and speedometer incompatible values with the real flight status. The low speed alarm prompts the captain to make a descent to increase speed and regain lift, but another problem arises: the so-called “rudder ratio” alarm activates, which normally activates when the speed is too high .

Pilots are total stunned by the contradiction signaled by the two alarms: what happened to the plane? The plane seems to have a life of its own, chaos reigns in the cockpit, but another alarm is activated: the overspeed alarm. At this point, the pilots contact the Lima airport air traffic controller and explain this Emergency and ask for immediate help. “We are declaring an emergency,” co-pilot Fernandez told the ground operator, “We have no static instruments, altimeters or speed indicators. We’re declaring a state of emergency.”

They are activated from the control tower in Lima to accompany the Boeing in one instrument landing, ie lead electronically in the last landing phase. But from the ground, the information received is the false one provided by the onboard instrumentation, which is now compromised. On the plane, the pilots, completely confused, ask for a support plane to pick them up, because the situation is dramatic. “We need a plane” can be heard from the recordings. “Is there a plane that can pick us up?” A Boeing 707 cargo takes off from Lima Airport to catch Flight 603, but that too fails.

The information available to Boeing is incorrect and the crazy plane, who wanders aimlessly and desperately tries to save the passengers, is not seen. At 1:10 a.m. the ground proximity warning signal is activated again, but it is too late. The Boeing is too close to the water, and the pilots make one last maneuver to raise the plane’s nose, yelling “We’re about to capsize!”. And unfortunately that happens. The AeroPeru plane crashes in the Pacific Ocean at 230 knots and capsizes inA hit.

Aircraft searches and investigations

At the suggestion of the Lima Control Tower, which had followed the plane’s final moments before hitting the water, the saved They were sent along the coast of Chancay, where Flight 603 is believed to have made an emergency landing. Because it was the middle of the night, it was pitch dark over the ocean and the rescue vehicles could not find any trace of the plane, even though their lights were on. A little later, a fisherman reported that he noticed a flash of light in the middle of the sea, which confirmed that, unfortunately, the plane crashed in the water and the chances of survivors on board were very small. The next morning, rescuers found oil stains, some sheet metal parts of the plane and a few dozen remains of the plane the victims.

Just retrieved them black boxes, investigators set to work to understand the course of events and the causes of the tragedy. It was initially assumed that the cause of the disaster was a failure of the avionics, i.e. the onboard electronic instruments, and that the two pilots had not been adequately trained by Boeing for an emergency like the one they were facing. But when a fragment of the plane’s nose was recovered, a… crucial turning point to understand the true cause of the accident.

Investigators found that the openings led to the outside sensors which provided altitude and speed information to the onboard computer were hampered made of masking tape typically applied by technicians when servicing an aircraft to protect it from painting and cleaning. It was found that the masking tape had been applied as was customary at Lima’s Chavez Airport, but that the painter had not removed it after the maintenance work was completed. The tape was aluminum colored, so easily mistaken for the Boeing’s nose, and thanks to the night, Captain Schreiber didn’t even notice it.

The obstruction of the sensors caused the onboard system to spin, sending erroneous data and confusing the pilots. The person responsible for the painting, Mr. Chacaliaza, was therefore charged as being solely responsible of the tragedy, with the accusation of negligence. The AeroPeru company filed for bankruptcy for failing to pay compensation to the families of victims who received compensation in 2006 from Boeing, which took the blame for not adequately training pilots to disable onboard electronics and to continue the flight the analog instrumentation, thereby avoiding tragedy.