Narrative:Air France Flight AF212 was a scheduled service from Santiago de Chile to Paris (France) with en route stops at Quito (Ecuador), Caracas (Venezuela), Pointe-à-Pitre (Guadeloupe) and Lisbon (Portugal).
The Boeing 707 named "Château de Lavoûte-Polignac", took off from Caracas at 19:27 for an estimated one hour and eight-minute flight to Pointe-à-Pitre on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.
The flight climbed to the cruising altitude of FL330. They contacted Piarco FIR at approximately 19:53 hours, reported flying at FL330 and estimating over Piarco at 20:00, the OA reporting point at 20:09 and Pointe-à-Pitre at 20:32.
At approximately 20:09 the flight reported over OA and requested authorization to descend in five minutes time. Piarco cleared the flight to the Guadeloupe radio beacon at FL90 and asked it to report when leaving FL 330 and when reaching FL150. At 20:14, three minutes sooner than flight planned, the crew reported leaving FL330. Seven minutes later they reported passing FL150. It was then cleared to contact the Guadeloupe ACC and was advised that an aircraft proceeding from Martinique to Guadeloupe was flying at FL80 and estimating Guadeloupe at 20:44 hours. About 20:24 the flight reached the cleared altitude of FL90.
After several unsuccessful attempts the flight established radio contact with Pointe-à-Pitre Tower at 20:29. It was again cleared to FL90, given a QNH of 1016mb and landing instructions and requested to report at FL90, or runway in sight. Following a different route than normal, the airplane passed a brightly lit town (Basse Terre) on the coast of Guadeloupe. The pilot-in-command probably erroneously believed that it was Pointe-à-Pitre and that he would reach Le Raizet Airport in approximately one minute.
At 20:29:35 the crew replied that the aircraft was at FL90 and they estimated they would be over the airport in approximately 1-1,5 minute. Less than one minute later they reported seeing the airport and were cleared for a visual approach to runway 11.
The aircraft then descended over mountainous terrain and passed Saint Claude at an altitude of approximately 4400 ft. Flight 212 was observed to impact on the southern slope of La Grande Découverte in the "La Soufrière" mountain, at an elevation of 1200 m (3937 ft).
PROBABLE CAUSE: "The accident resulted from a visual approach procedure at night in which the descent as begun from a point which was incorrectly identified. For lack of sufficient evidence (flight recorder was not recovered, condition and location of wreckage), the Commission was not able to establish the sequence of events which led to this crew error."
Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Mountain
» ICAO Circular 107-AN/81 (274-282)
Official accident investigation report
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not
display the exact flight path.
Distance from Caracas-Simón Bolívar International Airport to Pointe-à-Pitre-Le Raizet Airport as the crow flies is 858 km (536 miles).