Aeroperú Flight 603
Report Prepared By: Gurpreet
Admission Number: 1781445J
Date: 02 December 2017
Table of content
Further Analysis and Investigation…………….
Key Learning Points…………………………….
On the 2nd of
December 1996, Aeroperú Flight 603 was Scheduled to
fly from Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida (KMIA) to Comodoro
Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport in Santiago, Chile (SCEL), with
stopover in Peru, crashed on its final leg of the journey killing all 70 people
onboard. Upon further investigation it was found that a bad maintenance
practice/human error together with a series of unfortunate events caused the
crash of Aeroperú Flight 603. In my report I will explain what went wrong and
what can been put into place to prevent this kind of incidents from happening
This map shows the airport of departure and the
intended destination of the fateful Aeroperú Flight 603.
Date: 02 OCT 1996
Fatalities: 9 of 9 crew, 61 of
Aircraft Fate: Destroyed
Phase: En route
Lima-Jorge Chavez International Airport (LIM/SPIM), Peru
Santiago-Arturo Merino Benitez Airport (SCL/SCEL), Chile
Flight 603 took off from Lima
runway 15 at 12:42 am for a flight to Santiago. Five minutes into takeoff the
crew reported problems with their instruments and announced that they wanted to
return to the airport.
During the initial climb, the airspeed and altitude indications were too low. Unfortunately,
in calm winds, the wind shear warning suddenly sounded.
The aircraft climbed to FL130,
before a return to Lima was initiated. While returning, the captain’s airspeed
and altitude indications were too high, causing an overspeed warning. At the
same time, the co-pilot’s airspeed indications were too low, which triggered
the stick shaker.
Alas, Flight 603 kept descending and impacted the water with the left wing and
no. 1 engine at a 10 degrees angle, at a speed of 260 knots. The aircraft
pulled up to about 200 feet and crashed inverted. The captain’s airspeed indicated
450 knots and altitude 9500 feet.
Results from the investigation showed that the aircraft’s three static ports on
the left side were obstructed by masking tape. The tape had been applied before
the washing and polishing of the aircraft prior to the accident flight.
Track, from Peru Ministry of Transport, Aircraft Accident Report, pg. 19.
Picture above taken
A computer-generated image of how the fateful Flight 603
would have met its fate.
Further Analysis and Investigation
Photo: AeroPeru 603 Captain’s Static Port, taken by
underwater camera, from May Day: Flying Blind.
As seen on the above picture, three static ports on the left side of
Flight 603 were covered with Metallic Duct Tape.
What are static ports?
Static ports and Pitot’s are devices that are located in the outer
fuselage of the plane that measure the air pressure and speed. Most of the
instruments in the cockpit work based on calculations of that pressure and
speed. Some planes have various kinds of those, and some planes have a few, the
location may change a bit, but they are rather recognizable.
Those devices are quite sensitive, hence why when a plane is being
washed they are covered with a tape for avoiding damage.
What went wrong?
While AeroPerú Flight was being washed those static ports were covered.
However, when the washing ended, it is said that the man in charge of removing
the tape did not do so.
Sadly, neither did his supervisor nor the Pilot in charge of the outer
pre-takeoff check saw the static ports covered. Little did they know that these
human errors would cause the lives of 70 people that were on board.
The Boeing 757-23A is said to have taken off with the devices covered,
due to which the pilots could not measure the air speed and pressure, hence the
cockpit instruments did not have proper readings.
What kind of cockpit
instruments are we talking about?
In the case of Flight 603, The Basic Flight Instruments relayed false
airspeed, altitude and vertical speed data.
Pitot-static systems consists of:
Altimeter Airspeed Vertical speed indicator
The aircraft itself and the instruments themselves were in perfect
conditions, but had no source (Static ports) to give readings from and the pilots
inevitably got confused by the multiple alarms triggered and clueless, they
just did not know what was their position because it was a night flight. After
debating they decided to fly along the sea and called for a plane to guide
them, LIM ATC (Lima-Jorge Chavez International Airport Air Traffic Control)
sent a FAP 707 to guide them back to the airport.
Due to the ports being covered, the IAS indicator (Airspeed Indicator)
showed they were going too fast, but in actual fact Flight 603 was going too
low and slow and unavoidably the Aircraft stalled. When the pilots noticed their
true situation, it was a little too late, and the plane plunged into the sea.
All the systems and the Aircraft were working properly, but as it was a
night flight the Pilots did not really know what they were flying upon and one
after another these chains of incidents together with the lack of situational
awareness caused the fateful crash of AeroPeru Flight 603.
Key Learning Points
After doing my research on Flight 603 I have realized a few things:
Human error was the main cause here for Flight 603 crash. It’s a clear
example on how something as small as a few pieces of tape can bring down an
aircraft killing innocent people onboard. Eleuterio Chacaliaza, the technician, had
missed the tapes after the cleaning was done and so did the pilot, Schreiber,
before his pre-flight visual check as the tapes used by the technician was duct
tape and not the bright colored ones that were supposed to be used.
If the technician had used the bright colored tape, there would have
been a chance that the pilot would have spotted It and this disaster would
never have been written in history’s timeline.