18/05/2024
Aviation Accidents

Avianca Flight 011 Crash: A Case Study of Pilot Error, Fatigue, and Inadequate Training

On November 27, 1983, Avianca Flight 011, a Boeing 747-200B, crashed near Madrid, Spain, killing 181 people, including 169 passengers and 12 crew members. It is the second-deadliest aviation accident in Spanish territory, and the deadliest in mainland Spain.

The flight was en route from Frankfurt, Germany, to Bogotá, Colombia, with stops in Paris, France, and Madrid, Spain. After a normal takeoff from Madrid-Barajas Airport, the aircraft descended below its assigned altitude and crashed into a hill about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) southeast of the airport.

The cause of the accident was never definitively determined, but the investigation found that several factors contributed to the crash, including pilot error, fatigue, and inadequate training.

Instrument Landing System (ILS) at Madrid-Barajas Airport

The pilots of Flight 011 were experienced, but they were also unfamiliar with the Instrument Landing System (ILS) at Madrid-Barajas Airport. The ILS is a navigation system that helps pilots to land safely in low-visibility conditions.

On the night of the crash, the visibility at Madrid-Barajas Airport was low due to fog. The pilots of Flight 011 were using the ILS to guide them to the runway, but they descended below the assigned altitude and crashed into three different hills. With the third hill being the final impact. The debris of the airplane was widely scattered as a consequence of the impacts.

ILS - Instrument Landing System
ILS – Instrument landing System

The investigation found that the pilots were flying too low and too fast on approach to the runway. They also made several errors in handling the aircraft, including a failure to follow the proper ILS procedures.

The Avianca Flight 011 crash is a reminder of the importance of pilot training and fatigue management in aviation safety. It is also a reminder of the dangers of flying in low-visibility conditions.

References:

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avianca_Flight_011
Aviation Safety Network: https://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19831127-0
image source:
By Michel Gilliand – Gallery page http://www.airliners.net/photo/Avianca/Boeing-747-283BM/1396439/LPhoto http://cdn-www.airliners.net/aviation-photos/photos/9/3/4/1396439.jpg, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27036072