The Avro RJ-85 operated by LaMia Bolivia took off from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, for a passenger flight to Medellin, Colombia. 68 passengers and 9 crewmembers were onboard. The plane was descending towards Medellin about 20 NM (35 km) southeast of Medellin when it disappeared from radar screen. The wreckage has been located rapidly. 71 occupants were killed, and 6 survived with injuries.
The chartered aircraft was coming from southern Brazil. It made a stop in Bolivia before continuing its journey heading to Medellin, Colombia. The British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane was enroute at FL300 and started the descent towards Medellin about 80 NM (150 km) south of this city. At this time there were three other aircraft holding, waiting to be instructed start the approach. There was also an aircraft diverting to Medellin airport with a reported fuel leak, about to commence its final approach.
The Avro RJ-85 entered a holding pattern to let time to a traffic ahead to land. Then the crew declared a fuel emergency while the plane was in holding pattern, and requested priority landing. Two minutes later, the controller cancelled the approach of the traffic ahead, and requested the Avro RJ-85 to turn right to avoid traffic ahead, and to start the descent. The crew answered negatively for the right turn, stating they have the traffic ahead in sight, and started to descent.
6 minutes after having declared a fuel emergency, all the four engines stopped running. The aircraft was 15.5 NM (28.7 km) south of the threshold the runway, and 5.4 NM (10 km) south of the accident site. Two minutes later, the crew radioed: “Miss, Lima Mike India 2933 is in total failure, total electrical failure and without fuel.”.
Moments later, the plane crashed in a wooded area, close to the city of La Ceja at the slopes of Cerro Gordo. The impact point is at altitude of 8,500 ft.
The plane came down in one piece. The aircraft has been destroyed by the impact, but some big fuselage parts are visible at the crash site. The plane did not catch fire.
Investigators calculated that the plane did not have enough range to perform the flight with holding pattern. Although the crew discussed the possibility to make a stop to refuel at an intermediate point, decision was taken not to do it. The evidence available to the investigation has not identified a technical failure that may have caused or contributed to the accident. The available evidence is however consistent with the aircraft having suffered fuel exhaustion.
Players, coaches and invited guests from Brazil's Chapecoense soccer team were onboard the charter flight. So were more than 20 journalists on the way to cover the soccer match in Medellin.