The plane ran out of fuel because the pilot made the wrong decision assuming that the fuel for their doomed flight would have been enough for the trip, resulting in the tragic plane crash in Colombia.
Gustavo Vargas, representing the airline company Lamia, said in one of Bolivia's newspapers Pagina Siete that the pilot, Miguel Quiroga, made a wrong assumption regarding their fuel supply. Aviation officials investigating the plane crash confirmed that the plane indeed lacked fuel, including a standard reserve equivalent to no less than 30 minutes of flight in case of emergencies.
"The pilot was the one who took the decision. He thought the fuel would last," Vargas said. The plane was co-owned by the pilot and is one of the three planes under Lamia which just started operations last year. Quiroga's plane was the only operational unit that time as the two other aircrafts are under repair.
Aviation authorities in Bolivia have already issued a suspension on the operational license of LaMia. The pilot also could have violated regulations that required aircraft to carry an emergency fuel supply in the event of emergencies especially at times when planes need to stay a bit more in flight until a clearance to land is given.
According to Cablenoticias, Yaneth Molina who was the air traffic controller that interacted with Quiroga said that she did everything in her power to try and keep the flight's passengers alive. This was detailed by Molina in an email she sent to the Colombian Association of Air Traffic Controllers and authenticated by the group's president Carlos Llanos.
"I can affirm with absolute certainty that, for my part, I did what was humanly possible and technically required to preserve the lives of these users of air transport. Unfortunately, my efforts were unfruitful, because of the reasons that you all know," Molina stated. In a leaked recording, Molina could be heard providing directions to Quiroga and confirmed availability of a runway for landing and firefighters have been alerted for an emergency landing.
In the recording, Quiroga reports that the doomed plane is having a 'total electric failure' and 'lack of fuel'. Right after he said that the plane is flying at an altitude of 9,000 feet then the recording stopped. He was also heard asking for urgent directions to the airport as the plane was approaching Medellin.
Aviation officials indicated that the flight recorders will be sent to the United Kingdom as evidence for a full investigation.
The British Aerospace 146 aircraft was on a chartered flight to Colombia with a total of 77 passengers on board, along with the Brazilian Chapecoense football club for a historic match. Only 6 of the passengers survived the plane crash.