Avianca Flight 52

Avianca Flight 52



Avianca Flight 52

Lack of enough reserve fuel was one of the major contributing factors that led to the crash of Avianca Airlines, flight 052. The plane crashed in a wooded residential area in New York. It was an international flight from Bogota to New York. During the flight, it was scheduled to make an intermediate stop at Jose Maria Cordova Airport. The flight was one of the major disasters of the decade. There were 158 people on board and 73 of them died in the crash.

At the time of the flight, the northeastern region of the US was experiencing poor weather. This affected flight schedules. The flight crew had to be placed in holding three times. This was an additional one hour seventeen minutes. The crew noted the risks involved in the increased holding times and it informed the controllers that it would only hold for less than five minutes. The crew reasoned that the plane could not reach its alternate airport without running out of fuel. The plane crashed after its four engines crashed while trying to return to the airport.

The findings from the investigations revealed that there was poor communication between the air controllers and the pilots. The crew failed to communicate to the controllers urgently concerning their need for fuel. The pilots were aware of the fuel that was available for the flight. They were also aware that they had to change their approach once they learnt that they could be placed in holding three times. They had the responsibility to report that they had experienced a shortage before it occurred.

The lack of standardized terminology for pilots and controllers adds to the communication problems experienced during that time. The pilot and the controllers could have agreed on the terminology to use to indicate the condition of the fuel status. In addition, the crew could have asked for the assistance of the dispatch system to help them into a high-density airport. Another communication problem was that the pilot had to depend on the copilot because he had limited English knowledge.

Findings from the investigation also revealed that the federal aviation administration failed in its responsibility of managing traffic. There was inadequate traffic flow management at the time of the accident. Another finding indicated problems in coordination of the flight crew. The airplane’s autopilot had problems and it is possible that the pilots flew the plane manually. This could have caused stress and fatigue on the pilots. This was evident because the captain wanted all the instructions he received to be repeated and he asked the copilot to speak louder. The findings indicate the importance of knowing the weather before piloting a plane.

Following the accident, the national transportation safety board recommended a collaboration of the federal aviation administration and the international civil aviation organization to develop a standardized glossary of definitions, review the traffic management system, include procedures for specifying the minimum fuel values in flight manuals, and provide recorded broadcasts of traffic management, which would be accessible to aircrafts. Further recommendations were directed to the director of the administration of aviation civil in Colombia. It was important to review the policies, procedures, and training to ensure that all the flight dispatchers and the flight crews were aware of their roles and responsibilities. It was also recommended that Avianca Airlines incorporate cockpit resource management and line oriented flight training in the training programs of the flight crews.

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