A plane carrying Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer team reportedly skipped a scheduled refuel before its fatal crash on November 28. RT.com reports that the plane carrying Brazil’s soccer team from Bolivia to Columbia opted not to stop for a standard refuel to save time. While the decision not to stop to refuel was in direct violation of standard for that flight protocol, new reports say that the crew decided to fly nonstop thanks to an earlier delay in the flight schedule.
The plane was carrying 77 people to one of the final games of the season. While the plane was scheduled to stop for a refuel in one of Bolivia’s main cities it decided to opt out of the final refuel to make up for earlier flight delays.
While the flight started out normally enough, it took a tragic turn when the Brazilian team had to take a charter flight to Columbia rather than their originally planned direct flight from Brazil. The changing flights was due to regulations imparted on the team by Brazil’s civil aviation Authority. The authority forbids any aircraft that is not registered in the country from which is departing to conduct charter flights.
Because of the denial by the Aviation Authority, the Brazilian team’s flight was delayed for more than an hour. While the pilot of the plane could have chosen to refuel in Bogotá, he instead decided to fill the plane’s talent as far as it would go and continue the flight to make up an hour of time. Unfortunately, the plane’s maximum flight range was only four hours and 22 minutes. While this was in line was the initial estimated time of the flight, the additional delay resulted in the plane flying longer than it was prepared to.
According to new information, the pilot of the plane put in an emergency landing request just before the crash due to a “fuel emergency.” During the conversation, however, reports state that the pilot repeatedly dodged questions from the air traffic controller regarding how long the plane could stay in the air without an emergency refuel.
Because of the lack of information, the air traffic controller granted an emergency landing to another plane instead, delaying the emergency landing of the Brazilian flight by seven minutes.
Recent reports this week expose a panicked final exchange between the pilot and air traffic control in which the pilot reported “the plane is in total failure, total electrical failure, without fuel.” Immediately following that conversation, the plane went down roughly 30 miles outside of the airport.
The decision of the pilot to bypass the refuel put the plane in direct violation of international air safety regulations, which state that all planes are required to have enough fuel to fly as much as 30 minutes longer than projected. According to BuzzFeed, the flight crashed at 10 PM on November 28, killing 71 passengers.
The New York Times reports that the recording released this week is a 12 minutes long and spans the time between the pilot’s request for an emergency landing to the crash itself.