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Op-Ed: Pilots Can be Heroes, but Also Murderers

The LAMIA 2933 crash that killed 71 people in Colombia was a foolish, irresponsible tragedy that should have been avoided by the Captain himself, as well a number of other people who hopefully will be investigated and brought to justice. ( More...

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There's another factor to consider- the cost of refueling and additional landing fees. Perhaps as an owner the captain may have been trying to save money. Pinching pesos led to disaster.
joel wiley 6
I guess in some cases CRM means El capitán reina malignamente. Doubt the condition is limited to S. America
Pete Marsh 5
We call that condition "Terminal Cheap".
kyle estep 3
an extra takeoff and landing or destroying the plane and almost all the passengers, What's cheaper? If you are hurting that bad, you should listen to the "proverb" If you want to make a million Dollars in aviation, start with an airline and a billion Dollars.
James Simms 2
From news reports, it was the Co-Pilot's first & sadly, last flight. She was in no position to question the Captain
bentwing60 3
This is a well written synopsis and sadly, well received, as the author, while downplaying his credentials, hit the major bases. More will come out on the crew and I'm pretty sure it wasn't her first trip as a commercial pilot and first officer. By the time she got that gig, she should understand "max range". I get IT. It's hard to be the new guy and be right when the Senior is a god in a four engine jet! But if the CRM concept that was intended to include the homework of the "other guy" really worked she would have said no in a way that might get her fired but would preserve her life. That's walking out the door! Any captain capable of this level of greed and stupidity is lucky to have lasted this long.
Robert Fleury 1
I agree with bentwing60. If a 1st officer cannot make a decision however costly it may be for his/her carreer to preserve his/her own life, how can he be trusted to take care of the lifes of others. None of these individuals deserves the title of "pilot" as it morally entitles being the recipient of other people's trust to take them safely to a destination. I am also wondering why such a defective and illegal flight plan could be processed by the system eventually leading to the delivery of an ATC clearance.
ToddBaldwin3 1
It will be interesting so see what the financials of LaMia are like. I'm guessing that they probably could afford a refueling stop.
WeatherWise 6
This says it all. Excellent read.
I have never taken off with too much fuel and never landed with too much fuel remaining on board, Always aware of my fuel situation.
Tim Duggan 4
I admit skimmed the article, but I will echo 'WeatherWise" said what needed to be said.
Running out of fuel in an airplane is inexcusable. It happened once in the USA, once in Canada....USA accident was United 173 in 1978. Then there is the "Gimli Glider"...different reasonns, different outcomes.....
UNITED 173 - Should be required study of all pilots, well at least self directed study then :)
This latest tragedy might have been avoided -
"McBroom had been with United Airlines for 27 years; he was one of the airline's most senior pilots with more than 27,600 hours of flight time, of which about 5,500 hours had been as a DC-8 captain."

3 crew worked for over an hour with the gear down - but the indicator & and from the final (bulb out) & all three failed to monitor the fuel burn -
James Simms 3
Forgot Avianca Flight 52 in 1990 near JFK; ironically from Bogota via Medellin..
There are also numerous other examples of GA and 135 ops that meet a similar fate. However this case is rather egregious, with the route exceeded the max legal leg that the type could even fly. Miss-managing fuel is one thing, to plan, file and depart on a leg that cannot be safely or legally completed with the fuel on board or available is inexcusable.
bentwing60 3
The original flight plan reads time en route 4:22, fuel on board, 4:22. And after Seneam or whoever does the ATC flight plan acceptance called dispatch and she (the dispatcher) said "It's o.k. the captain filed it", they accepted it. Kinda shows a major flaw in the system when an on demand carrier admits in advance he ain't playin by the rules and nobody intervenes and they are all dead.
Robert Fleury 1
That other accident stresses the fact that ATC controllers could have helped turn the issue around provided pilot(s) accept sooner than later, against their pride sometimes, that they are in deep sh... and declare an emergency.
Fran Turner 1
In a convoluted sort of way, the prideful arrogance of a certain KLM captain one foggy day in Tenerife is brought to mind...
Jim DeTour 1
PDX had a major airline go down one night down the block from me due to running out of fuel. December of 1978 United 173 crashed in town housing. Check the address on map for where. He is real lucky to of snagged the power lines with gear slowing them down so they didn't plow through a lot of houses. He just aimed for a dark spot which luckily was a couple houses with nobody home. They had survivors very luckily only 8 died.
Tim Duggan 3
There is an adage: Fuel adds weight. It thus affects performance. Some say too much fuel might lead to a bigger fire....the point is NOT to crash!! Upload the appropriate quantity of fuel, AND if you are "eating" into your reserves? Land and re-fuel!!!
kyle estep 2
The first thing I thought once I heard of what the distance and flight time was.... Uh that plane becomes a glider at about 4 hours... not can fly 4 hours with reserve fuel... it's a tanks empty glider. This airframe didn't have the extended range tanks installed when I flew it many years ago, and well it seems didn't when it crashed. This is utter negligence by the captain, dispatcher, owner, who it seems was also the captain, and in this case the government flight plan approver. The Avro (at least the ARJ-85) wasn't designed to fly much over 3 hours with normal range fuel tanks. It was designed to fly into places like London City or Aspen airports.
Sad, but very accurate. All comments also add sensibleness. Living in the region where soccer became a philosophy of life, transgression, trickery moves and moving the ball on the limit, are the rules. The team was transferred from Sao Paulo to Bolivia, just to fly that carrier! As often, cause wasn't just one.
When I first got into aircraft ownership (Champion 7ECA) our FBO owner told me that the insurance companies would forgive me for just about anything EXCEPT running out of gas.
ToddBaldwin3 2
In an incident I was involved in, the FAA's first question was how much fuel did you have.
Years ago I took a Meyers 145 bi-plane for a spin and after returning another pilot took it and landed in a corn field no more than a half a mile from the runway. The only damage incurred was to the propeller. He had run out of gas.
Corruption kills, and for money this irresponsible pilot not only killed but killed 71 people, an irresponsible, and the complications that still survive should be tried and end up prisoners the rest of their lives
Daniel French 1
I disagree with the author's conclusion where he compares the LAMIA crew actions to that of Andreas Lubitz , famous German wings pilot. My colleague Andreas Lubitz was sick, suffering from a complex mental disease in a totally non supportive work environment. The LAMIA owner/Captain was just an irresponsible penny pinching guy in a corrupt unregulated environment...
joel wiley 1
"Their negligence—much like the atrocious behavior displayed by Andreas Lubitz, ... tainted the image of the millions of Pilots around the world who take their jobs seriously". I don't think the author is comparing the two beyond the effect on pilot image. But as you point out, one was in a non-supportive environment while the other in an environment all too supportive of his behavior.
Riesberg Mark 1
Running out of fuel has a long history, don't forget ALM 980, operated by overseas national on 2 may 70. Senior capt couldn't commit to one safe alternate, kept switching, junior FO was a potted plant using up Air.
Aposentado após 33 anos de vôo , esse acidente só vem confirmar o que digo a todos AVIÃO NÃO CAI !!!
Another thing my FBO said (which was really in regard to students on solo cross country flights)was..."Full tanks are always a substitute for brains".


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