Audio recordings from the doomed Champecoense flight
The pilot of the jet that crashed Monday evening with all of the staff and players of the Brazilian Champecoense futbol team told the tower that he was out of fuel.
In the air traffic tower recordings, the pilot is heard requesting immediate permission to land at Medellin’s International Airport due to a “total electrical failure” and no fuel eight miles from the airport.
The exchange between the air traffic tower and the pilot was stressful at times. The pilot can be heard repeatedly requesting authorization to land the plane because of “fuel problems”. The tower response was that another plane had been diverted with mechanical problems and had priority. The tower instructed the pilot to wait for seven minutes.
While the plane was in a holding pattern, the pilot, in desperation, radioed in that there was “Complete electrical failure, without fuel.” This was one of the last communications the pilot had with the tower before crashing into the mountainside.
The last communication of the pilot before going silent mentioned that he was flying at an altitude of 9000 feet and his final plea to land: “Vectors senorita. Landing vectors.”
The Colombian aviation agency said that the plane’s black boxes have been recovered. This could give more detailed information on what happened just before the crash. Alfredo Bocanegra, head of the agency, said that while the evidence initially points to an electrical problem, the possibility that the crash was caused by lack of fuel is not ruled out. Planes need to have enough fuel to fly at least 30-45 minutes to another airport in case of an emergency.
Also, this audio exchange would appear to confirm the details mentioned by the surviving flight attendant and a pilot flying nearby who listened to the chaotic exchange. There was also a lack of an explosion during impact, which would confirm fuel running out as one of the causes of the crash.
The investigation is expected to take months to complete. The US National Transportation Safety Board is assisting in the investigation because an American manufacturer made the 17-year-old aircraft’s engines.