Narrative:A Douglas DC-9-14 passenger plane, HK-3839X, was destroyed in an accident near Maria La Baja, Colombia. All five crew members and 46 passengers were killed. Just one of the passengers, a nine year old girl, surived.
Intercontinental de Aviación Flight ITC256 was scheduled to depart at 12:10 on a service to Cartagena and San Andres Island. The flight was delayed because of a malfunction on the previous flight. Maintenance work had to be carried out on the electrical system.
The flight finally departed at 18:45 after a delay of over six hours. At 19:09 the contacted the Bogota Center controller and reported en route at FL310. At 19:26 Barranquilla Control cleared the flight to start the descent from FL310 to FL140 and to report passing FL200. They passed FL200 at 19:33 and were instructed to contact Barranquilla Approach. One minute later, the flight was cleared further down to 8000 feet and to report passing 12.000 feet. This was the last radio contact with the flight. At 19:38 hours the crew of Aerocorales Flight 209 (a Cessna Caravan) reported that they saw "the lights of an airplane in rapid descend", followed by a ground explosion. The airplane came down in a marshy lagoon 56 km from Cartagena Airport. Investigation revealed that the no. 1 altimeter indicated 16.200 feet on impact.
The probable cause of this accident was the loss of situational awareness by the crew.
Contributing to the loss of Vertical Situational Awareness, was the failure of the altimeter Number one during the descent, the lack of light in the altimeter Number two, the ineffectiveness of the Altitude Alert due to the failure of the altimeter Number one, the lack of radar service in the area, the complacency of the command crew because of good weather conditions, flight training that may not have been authorized by the company, the failure of the ground proximity warning system (GPWS), or lack of crew reaction time to respond to this alarm.
Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Ground
N8901E is seen here withdrawn from use, prior to being exported to Colombia
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 Bogotá-Eldorado Airport to Cartagena-Rafael Núñez Airport as the crow flies is 653 km (408 miles).