'Human error' led to Colombia soccer plane crash

Bogota, ColombiaUpdated: Dec 27, 2016, 01:00 AM IST

The crash killed 71 people last month, including most of Brazil's Chapecoense soccer team. Photograph:(Getty)

Colombia aviation authorities on Monday admitted that errors by the pilot, airline and Bolivian regulators are to blame for the plane crash that killed 71 people last month.

The plane crashed on a wooded hillside near Medellin killing most of Brazil's Chapecoense soccer team.

Officials said that the pilot had failed to refuel en-route and did not report engine failure until it was too late.

"No technical factor was part of the accident, everything involved human error, added to a management factor in the company's administration and the management and organisation of the flight plans by the authorities in Bolivia," Colombia's secretary for Air Safety Colonel Freddy Bonilla told journalists, news agency Reuters reported.

Bonilla added that the plane was overweight by nearly 400 kilograms. It was also uncertified to fly at the altitude at which the journey took place.

The "conditions for the flight presented in the flight plan that were unacceptable", aviation authorities in Bolivia accepted.

The Chapecoense soccer team was on it way to its biggest game in history, the final of the Copa Sudamericana. Only three players from the team survived the incident. Two crew members and one reporter also survived.

Colombia's investigation conclude that the plane's pilot were directly responsible for the accident. The pilot, co-owner of the LaMia airline, was killed in the crash.

Gustavo Vargas Gamboa, LaMia's chief executive, was jailed pending trial earlier this month on manslaughter and other charges, which he has denied, Reuters reported.

Criminal charges have also been brought against LaMia co-owner Marco Antonio Rocha Benegas, whose whereabouts are unknown, and air traffic controller Celia Castedo, who fled Bolivia after the crash and is seeking asylum in Brazil.

(With inputs from Reuters)