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Last updated: 17 July 2019
Status:Final
Date:Tuesday 5 March 1991
Time:16:17
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC93 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32
Operator:Linea Aeropostal Venezolana - LAV
Registration: YV-23C
C/n / msn: 47720/846
First flight: 1976
Total airframe hrs:32452
Cycles:50298
Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney JT8D-17
Crew:Fatalities: 5 / Occupants: 5
Passengers:Fatalities: 40 / Occupants: 40
Total:Fatalities: 45 / Occupants: 45
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Aircraft fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:27 km (16.9 mls) NE of Valera (   Venezuela)
Crash site elevation: 3021 m (9911 feet) amsl
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Maracaibo-La Chinita International Airport (MAR/SVMC), Venezuela
Destination airport:Santa Bárbara del Zulia-Las Delicias Airport (STB/SVSZ), Venezuela
Flightnumber: 109
Narrative:
Aeropostal flight 109 originated in Caracas (CCS), Venezuela on a domestic round trip via Porlamar (PMV), Maracay (MYC), Maracaibo (MAR), Santa Bárbara del Zulia (STB), and Maracaibo.
The flight departed Caracas at 12:05 local time. The first legs of the flight were uneventful. It took off from Maracaibo at 15:58 for the twenty-minute leg to Santa Bárbara del Zulia. The cruising altitude of FL165 was reached at 16:04. The controller at Santa Bárbara del Zulia cleared the flight to descend to 5500 feet, which was confirmed by the crew. The crew then asked if the VOR/DME at the airport was inoperative, which was denied by the air traffic controller.
About 16:15 the descent was arrested. The captain had noticed an erroneous heading selection on the instruments and concluded that they were off course. A climbing right hand turn was flown. The GPWS sounded and a few seconds later, the airplane flew into the side of a fog-shrouded mountain in the La Aguada sector of the páramo Los Torres. Accident elevation was 9912 feet.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSAL FACTORS (translated from original Spanish report):
Collision with mountainous terrain while performing a flight in instrument meteorological conditions under visual flight rules (VFR into IMC) following wrong selection of heading or departure radial which the aircraft followed on its way to the destination airport.

CONTRIBUTING FACTORS
1. The wrong selection of the departure heading from the Maracaibo Airport; the crew selected a course of 153 instead of 193.
2. Lack of supervision of the pilot in command, contributing to flight acts of indiscipline manifested by the following facts:
A) For the modification of flight rules going from visual meteorological conditions (VMC) to instrument flight meteorological conditions (IMC) without appropriate assessment of the geographical position where he was flying.
B) Distraction in the cockpit, the result of the conversation between the captain in command of the aircraft and a third person who was there, a male with aeronautical knowledge specific to a pilot. This situation allowed the error in departure radial selection or error or heading to the airport of destination to go unnoticed while performing the checklist called "Taxi Checklist" .
C) Also influenced by the act of indiscipline, was the fact that an aircraft ADF frequency was tuned to a commercial station throughout the flight, broadcasting a musical program.
3. Unfavourable weather conditions on the flight, present on site at the time of the incident were crucial in its occurrence.
4. The total lack of interaction between the crew (crew coordination).

Classification:
Distraction in cockpit
Navigational error
Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Mountain

Sources:
» Final Report released by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Venezuela.


Photos

photo of DC-9-32-YV-23C
accident date: 05-03-1991
type: McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32
registration: YV-23C
 

Map
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 Maracaibo-La Chinita International Airport to Santa Bárbara del Zulia-Las Delicias Airport as the crow flies is 177 km (110 miles).
Accident location: Exact; as reported in the official accident report.

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