Cablegate: Dc-3 Accident March 28, No Injuries

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: DC-3 Accident March 28, No Injuries

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: A Colombian National Police (PNC) DC-3
aircraft (tail number PNC 0214) crashed upon landing in Caruru,
Vaupes Department, on March 28. No injuries or fatalities
resulted, but an initial inspection has concluded that it is not
economically feasible to repair the aircraft. PNC and NAS safety
experts are conducting a bilateral accident investigation. Initial
indications suggest that the accident may have been the result of
pilot error. NAS will conduct a thorough review of DC-3 pilot
training with the PNC. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) On March 28, 2004, at 1:15 p.m. a DC-3 (PNC tail number
0214), during an approach at Caruru (one of the towns in Vaupes
Department where a police presence was re-established only two
months ago) lost control and subsequently crashed. The crew of
four sustained no injuries as a result of the accident. A
preliminary aircraft damage report by NAS sub-contractor
maintenance personnel has concluded that the aircraft is beyond
economical repair. An on-site investigation was conducted by PNC
safety personnel and the NAS Senior Aviation and Aviation Safety
Advisers. A subsequent bilateral accident investigation will be
conducted by PNC and NAS safety personnel.

3. (SBU) On March 28, 2004, a PNC aircrew of four, including the
pilot, Captain Monsalve (with 546 flight hours as a DC-3 command
pilot and 1235 hours as a DC-3 co-pilot), departed El Dorado
Police Base in Bogota at 5:30 a.m. on a general support mission
with multiple stopovers. The route of flight was Bogota - San
Jose de Guaviare - Mitu - San Jose - Caruru. The crew departed
San Jose with 4500 lbs of fuel and 3000 lbs of cargo to Caruru.
The aircraft landed with 3500 lbs of fuel. Caruru is located 124
nautical miles on a 145 degree heading from San Jose. The runway
at Caruru is an unimproved dirt strip approximately 4000 feet in
length. The runway conditions, at the time of the accident were
reported to be wet from recent rains however suitable for landing
and takeoffs (another DC-3 landed and took-off from Caruru's
runway less than an hour before PNC-0214 landed). The reported
weather conditions were 6000 feet visibility, with a 1300 feet
overcast ceiling. A flight plan and risk assessment were
completed prior to the mission by the PNC which resulted in a risk
level of medium.

4. (SBU) The pilot (Monsalve) reported to NAS safety adviser that
during landing everything appeared normal on touchdown of the main
wheels and that the runway was wet, but he had no problem
initially controlling the aircraft. Monsalve stated that after
the tail wheel touched down the aircraft began to veer to the left
and that he could no longer control the aircraft. He added that
he was concerned that he would crash into the small houses next to
the runway so he decided to apply power and bring the tailwheel up
and thus try to control the direction of the airplane. He
successfully brought the nose of the aircraft back towards the
runway and then decided to apply full power to do a go-around.
Monsalve noted that he could only get 40 percent power and that he
could not get the plane to fly. The aircraft subsubsequently
veered to the left off the runway, hit a small palm tree with the
left wing, hopped over a small road, and finally came to rest near
the bank of a river,but 175 feet from the water.

5. (SBU) The aircrew was transported to Bogota March 29 for
toxiocology tests and interviews. All aircraft maintenance
records, flight training records, risk assessments, flight plan,
and information concerning the mission have been secured for the
accident investigation.

6. (SBU) Insofar as this is the second accident of a DC-3 in less
than one year, resulting in the loss of two DC-3s, NAS will
conduct a thorough review of DC-3 pilot and crew training with the
PNC with an eye toward ensuring full adherence to all safety and
training requirements, as well as spot inspections of pilots and
co-pilots during flights.

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