LAM Mozambique Airlines Flight 470
LAM Mozambique Airlines Flight 470 (TM470/LAM470) was a scheduled international passenger flight from Maputo International Airport, Mozambique that crashed on 29 November 2013 into the Bwabwata National Park in Namibia en route to Quatro de Fevereiro Airport, Angola. The aircraft operating the flight, an Embraer 190, departed Maputo at 11:26 CAT (09:26 UTC) and was due to land at 14:10 WAT (13:10 UTC), but failed to arrive at its destination. The wreckage of the aircraft was found the following day on 30 November 2013 at the Bwabwata National Park in northern Namibia, halfway between its departure and scheduled arrival airport. All 27 passengers and six crew members were killed. Preliminary findings of the Mozambican Civil Aviation Institute (IACM) showed that the pilot intentionally crashed the jet. The Mozambican Association of air operators (AMOPAR) disputes the conclusion of the IACM.
It was the first fatal incident for LAM Mozambique Airlines since 1970, and the deadliest for a Mozambican airline since the Mozambican presidential Tupolev Tu-134A-3 aircraft carrying President Samora Machel crashed in 1986.
The aircraft involved in the incident was an Embraer 190 with manufacturer serial number 581, registered as C9-EMC and named "Chaimite". Built in October 2012, it was first delivered to LAM Mozambique Airlines in November 2012 and had since accumulated 2905 flight hours in 1877 flight cycles. It was powered by two General Electric CF34-10E engines. The airframe and the engines were last inspected on 28 November 2013, one day before the crash.
The aircraft was cruising at an altitude of 38,000 feet (11,600 m) over Botswana airspace about halfway between Maputo and Luanda when it began to lose altitude abruptly. The aircraft descended rapidly at a rate of about 100 feet (30 m) per second and was being tracked on radar. The aircraft's track was lost from screens at 3,000 feet (900 m) above sea level, after about six minutes of losing altitude. The last contact with air traffic control was made at 13:30 CAT (11:30 UTC) over northern Namibia during heavy rainfall.
Weather was reported to be poor at the time of the incident with heavy rainfalls in the vicinity of the flight path.
Passengers and crew
LAM Mozambique Airlines confirmed there were a total of 33 people on board (27 passengers and six crew members). The Namibian Police Force Deputy Commissioner Willy Bampton stated that none of them survived the incident and that "the plane [was] completely burned to ashes."
The crew comprised two pilots, three cabin attendants, and a technician. The captain, Herminio dos Santos Fernandes, had logged 9,053 flight hours in total while the first officer had accumulated 1,418 hours of flying experience.
The government of Mozambique announced it would declare a period of national mourning. Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva expressed condolence to victims' families. LAM Mozambique Airlines reported it was providing counselling and legal advice to families in both Mozambique and Angola and had set up an information hotline.
The pattern of debris indicated that the aircraft slid along the ground for several hundred metres.
Both flight recorders, the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and the flight data recorder (FDR), were recovered from the crash site within four days of the crash and were subsequently sent to the United States' National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for readout.
On 21 December 2013, the Mozambican Civil Aviation Institute (Instituto Moçambicano de Aviação Civil, IACM) head João Abreu presented the preliminary investigation report, according to which Captain Herminio dos Santos Fernandes had a "clear intention" to crash the jet and manually changed its autopilot settings, making this a suicide by pilot. The plane's intended altitude was reportedly changed three times from 38,000 feet (11,582 m) to 592 feet (180 m), the latter being below ground level, and the speed was manually adjusted as well. The cockpit voice recorder captured several alarms going off during the descent, as well as repeated loud bangs on the door from the co-pilot, who was locked out of the cockpit.
Despite the conclusion of the IACM, the Mozambican Association of air operators (AMOPAR) disputed the preliminary report, explaining that the maneuvers of Captain Fernandes are from the Manual of Standard operating procedures of the Aircrafts Embraer (stricken aircraft manufacturer) about how to "act in emergency situation to avert disaster". According to the AMOPAR document, the Mozambican Government has not complied with the standards and recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) "about the disclosure, contents and procedures relating to the preliminary report of the investigation of the crash of flight TM 470."
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