What Brought Down Aires Airlines Flight 8250


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What Brought Down Aires Airlines Flight 8250

By Mike Mitchell

August 18, 2010 - On Monday an Aires Airlines Flight 8250, while on final approach for landing at Gustavo Rojas Pinillas International Airport, San Andreas Island, Colombia, a resort island, was struck by lightning during a thunderstorm. The Boeing 737-700 (registration HK4682) with 131 onboard crashed landed and broke up into three main peaces.

Officials reported the plane was landing through thunderstorms. The Boeing 737 mechanically appeared normal when just before touchdown, about 100 feet above the runway, the aircraft was struck by lighting.

Flight 8250, about 1:50 AM local time, touchdown short of the runway and skidded on its belly.  The fuselage fractured into three main pieces and bits of landing gear and at least one engine were ripped off. The passengers ran and others were helped to safety. Flight 8250 originated out of Bogota.

The Boeing 737 was carrying a crew of six and 125 passengers. Miraculously only one death was reported, a 68-year-old woman, Amar Fernandez de Barreto, who died enroute to the hospital as a result of a heart attack. 119 people were treated and released at local clinics and five of them in serious condition remain hospitalized.

Ricardo Ramirez, a vacationing passenger, reported all had seemed normal, even though the plane was flying through a storm, with flashes of lightning as it neared the airport and that the accident appeared out of nowhere. Ramirez further reported when the aircraft finally came to a stop after skidding down the runway he struggled to free himself and his wife from their seatbelts, "We tried to get out of the plane because the plane was starting to shoot flames."

Firefighters were able to quickly put out the flames while police officers assisted in helping evacuate passengers from the aircraft. At the time of the crash weather reports indicated multiple lightning strikes around the airport and analysis of data from the World Wide Lightning Location Network indicated 11 strikes within 6 miles of the runway in a five-minute span at the time of the crash.

Investigators will look at what brought down this aircraft and what cased the aircraft to break into three pieces. The Boeing 737 is an aircraft that can withstand lighting strikes so lighting in its self more than likely was a contributing factor. There are reports that the aircraft may have been brought down by a down draft of air as the aircraft was descending to the airport which may have been the cause for the crash.

The investigation is being conducted by the Colombia Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Boeing has reported that they have sent a team to the crash site to provide technical support to the Colombia DJAC to assist in the agency's investigation of the accident, at the invitation of the Colombian authorities. The National Transportation Safety Board has as well dispatched a team of investigators to assist the Colombian government with the investigation.

NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman has designated Senior Air Safety Investigator Lorenda Ward as the U.S. Accredited Representative. The U.S. team also includes three other NTSB investigators (specialists in flight operations, human performance, and airworthiness) and technical advisors from the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing.

Aires is an airline headquartered in Bogot?, Colombia. It operates scheduled regional domestic and international services, as well as a domestic cargo service. Its main base is El Dorado International Airport, Bogot?, with hubs at Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport, Barranquilla, Olaya Herrera Airport, Medell?n and Perales Airport, Ibague.

The airline started operations on February 23, 1981. It was formed in Ibague and began operations with two Embraer EMB 110 Bandeirante aircraft. It has 581 employees. The airline remained a regional operator for most of its existence, but in 2008 it introduced Boeing 737-700 aircraft to the fleet and adopted a low-cost model, significantly changing the aviation scene in Colombia.

The airline recently introduced its first operation to the U.S. flying to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport. In 2009, Aires became the second largest carrier in domestic market share and now serves 25 domestic and 6 international destinations.


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