Friday 28 January 2022

Remembering TAME Ecuador 20yrs on

TAME Ecuador Flight 120 was a scheduled flight from Quito-Mariscal Sucre Airport (UIO/SEQU), Ecuador to Cali  Airport (CLO/SKCL) with a scheduled stopover at the Ecuadorian border town of Tulcán (TUA/SETU) also in Ecuador.  The Boeing 727 took off from runway 17 at 10:03 for the first leg to Tulcán. The flight climbed to the cruising altitude of FL180 and proceeded on the G-675 airway towards Ipiales from where it was to turn to Tulcán. At 10:15 the flight contacted Tulcán Tower. At that moment the airplane was 29 miles from the Tulcán NDB. The crew received permission to descend to FL140 and was given the current weather information, which included 8000 metres visibility, few clouds at 200 metres and overcast at 500 metres. The approach procedure called for a speed of 180 kts, but the actual speed was much higher at 230 knots. During the descent the airplane flew into the side of the Nevado el Cumbal Volcano at 14,700 feet, 1400 feet below the summit.

The decision of the instructor captain and his crew to initiate and continue the operation towards Tulcán airport below the meteorological minima established in the company's SOPs.
Inadequate navigation and operation of the aircraft by the pilot flying and directed by the instructor captain, consisting of entering the holding pattern of the Tulcan radio beacon with a speed of 230 knots indicated airspeed and with a banking of 15 degrees exceeding the maximum stipulated speed limit of 180 knots during the entire procedure including the holding pattern and using a banking below the recommended range of 25 to 30 degrees, thus exceeding the lateral navigation and obstacle protection limits of the holding pattern, leading this operation to the collision with El Cumbal Hill.

Aircraft Information:
Airline: TAME Ecuador
Code: EQ/TAE
Aircraft: Boeing 727-134
Registration: HC-BLF
Serial Number: 19692
First Flew: 20-11-1967 (34 years 3 months)
Engines: 3 Pratt & Whitney JT8D-9A

The aircraft involved had first flown in 1967 and was previously operated by Transair Sweden, Air Madeira and Philippine Airlines before being transferred to TAME.

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