GOL Transportes Aéreos Boeing 737-800 plane crash
Peixoto Azevedo, Brazil
GOL Flight 1907 departed the principal Amazon city of Manaus (Brazil) at 15:35 on a scheduled flight to the capital
Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro. It was expected to arrive at Brasilia at 18:12. At 16:48, while at a cruise altitude of
FL370 (37,000 ft – 11,300 m), radar contact was lost.
The Boeing 737-800 operated by Brazilian low-cost carrier Gol probably plunged into the ground nose first after it clipped a smaller executive jet. The wreckage was found near a cattle ranch, in remote Amazon jungle, 1090 miles (1750 km) northwest of Sao Paulo in the heavily forested Brazilian state of Para. All the 149 passengers and 6 crew members were killed.
Five air force planes searched for several hours without success over the area immediately after the flight went missing in Para state airspace. The day after, a total of eight planes and five helicopters took part in the search and rescue efforts along with emergency services and medical teams, and finally found the wreckage.
The small executive jet, an Embraer 135 Legacy 600, declared an emergency and safely landed in Cachimbo without injuries to the 7 occupants. Its pilot reported seeing, "out of nowhere, a large shadow" passing his plane, clipping his wing, and forcing an emergency landing.
The small executive jet was flying at the wrong altitude when it crossed paths with the Boeing 737. The planes were both flying at 37,000 feet. But the small jet, flying north toward Manaus, should have been at even-numbered altitudes, like 36 [thousand] or 38,000 feet.
Authorities also believe the two pilots of the small executive jet may have shut off the plane's transponder, an illegal move that would have rendered its anti-collision system useless. Indeed, the transponder is a device that transmits the plane’s location to other planes and to the Air Traffic Controller. It also transmits other plane’s location to the aircraft TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System). If the transponder is switched off, the TCAS is unable to detect threatening planes and to provide appropriate anti-collision orders to the crew.
But the pilots have denied they turned off the transponder, and said they believed it was working just before the collision. The device could have experienced an internal failure.
This accident is the 18th worst plane crash since year 2000 in terms of the number of combined onboard and ground fatalities.