Laser Colombia DC3 near Villavicencio on Mar 9th 2019, engine failure, propeller could not be feathered

Last Update: January 3, 2021 / 15:33:28 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Mar 9, 2019


Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type

ICAO Type Designator

A Laser Aereo Colombia Douglas DC-3, registration HK-2494 performing a flight from San Jose del Guaviare to Villavicencio (Colombia) with 11 passengers and 3 crew, was on approach to Villavicencio when the crew declared emergency at 10:15L (15:15Z), the aircraft subsequently lost height and impacted ground at a farm La Bendicion (position N3.5731 W73.0787) near Cimarron in San Carlos de Guaroa, San Martin community in Meta district, and burst into flames at about 10:36L (15:36Z). All occupants perished in the accident.

Colombia's DGCA reported no survivors were found, the aircraft carried 12 people. The crew had declared emergency while on approach to Villavicencia, the wreckage was found in the village of La Bendicion near Villavicencio (editorial note: located about 2.2nm south of the aerodrome). Later the DGCA published a list of 14 occupants.

Media in Colombia also mention the village of San Martin as location of a Finca La Bendicion. Three such fincas/farms can be found, the closest to the village of San Martin is 25nm south of the aerodrome, another 21 and the third 19nm south of the aerodrome.

On Mar 12th 2019 Colombia's DGCA reported the aircraft was about 109km from Villavicencio at 10:15L when the crew reported their left hand engine had failed and they were unable to feather the left hand propeller which did not permit them to continue to Villavicencio on the right hand engine. ATC offered several landing sites in the vicinity, indications are that the aircraft attempted to reach a runway at La Rinconcito, position of the aerodrome N3.9274 W73.0813 about 65km from the position when the left hand engine failed. The aircraft was in a continuos descent, radar contact was lost at 10:30L. The crew subsequently reported they had a landing facility amidst palm trees in sight. The crew however did not lower the landing gear. Seconds after the last transmission, at 10:36L, the ELT activated. Workers at the plantation observed the aircraft doing a few turns and going down and rushed to help but could not find any survivors.

Reader foofly posted comments (on Mar 11th 2019 03:36Z and Mar 12th 2019 02:34Z) indicating the crash site is within 3 kilometers of position N3.61 W73.08, which is on a straight line connecting the presumed position 109km before Villavicencio on a direct flight from San Jose del Guaviare to Villavicencio and then turning right directly towards the runway at La Rinconcito.

On Mar 17th 2019 Colombia's Aerocivil (DGCA) released their preliminary report in Spanish providing the coordinates of the crash site at N3.5731 W73.0787 (editorial note: in the header of the report the crash position is given at N1.9168 W67.0778, which however is clearly wrong, at the end of page 4 the correct coordinates are stated) stating the aircraft attempted to reach a runway at La Rinconada, IATA 9NS (absolutely no data available for this site, IATA does not know that site, AIP Colombia has no entry/data for this airfield), which according to the map is very close to the crash site (however, not visible on most recent satellite photos of 2014). The flight was planned at 8500 feet according to visual flight rules. The aircraft was climbing through 8100 feet about 30nm from San Jose del Guaviare when the crew reported they had a problem with an engine, which didn't "streamline". ATC offered a number of landing sites nearby, the crew headed for Pista La Rinconada. Radar contact was lost at 10:31L, the last transmission was received at 10:35L with the crew stating they had the landing site in sight, at 10:36L the ELT activated. First findings of the investigation determined the aircraft impacted ground at a heading of 266 degrees at high rate of descent and low speed. The aircraft wreckage was distributed over an area of 800 square meters, all parts of the aircraft were found at the site. The landing gear was retracted, the flaps were retracted. The flight controls were working. Both engines were found with considerable damage, both propeller were not feathered. The left hand side of the aircraft had received substantial impact damage, the right hand side was nearly undamaged. The left hand power lever was found at 100% power, the left hand mixture at rich, the right hand power lever at 0% power (idle), the right hand mixture at 50% (poor). The left hand propeller angle was set at 80% (forward), the right hand propeller angle was set at 50% (back/reverse). A GPS system was on board, was undamaged, but did not contain any data of the accident flight.

On Mar 28th 2019 Colombia's GRIAA answered our query sent to Aerocivil (Colombia's DGCA) on Mar 17th 2019 regarding the exact position of the La Rinconada runway: the runway 05/23 is 500 meters long, 15 meters wide at an elevation of 624 feet at position N3.5658 W73.0814 and is not being controlled by ATC. The aircraft thus crashed about 800 meters north of the runway.

On Jan 3rd 2021 it became known that Colombia's Grupo de Investigacion de Accidentes (GRIAA) had released their final report in Spanish only (Editorial note: to serve the purpose of global prevention of the repeat of causes leading to an occurrence an additional timely release of all occurrence reports in the only world spanning aviation language English would be necessary, a Spanish only release does not achieve this purpose as set by ICAO annex 13 and just forces many aviators to waste much more time and effort each in trying to understand the circumstances leading to the occurrence. Aviators operating internationally are required to read/speak English besides their local language, investigators need to be able to read/write/speak English to communicate with their counterparts all around the globe).

The GRIAA concluded the probable causes of the crash were:

- Loss of Control in flight as a consequence of loss of speed caused by the impossibility to feather the left hand propeller

- Malfunction of lubrication system of the #1 engine evident by an oil leak from power plant and propeller governor in flight; although discrepancies were found in the maintenance of the pressure line of the propeller feathering system it was not possible to determine the causes of the oil leak.

- Weaknesses in the operations procedures by the operator causing lack of standards in decision making by crews in the event of critical failures, such as selecting an alternate aerodrome or performing a forced landing in an open field

Contributing factors:

- Deficiencies in the maintenance procedures of the pressure line of the propeller feathering system of the #1 engine

- Breach of an effective and reliable maintenance program, which did not verify the existing operating conditions of the aircraft components. It could not be determined whether and when the last 50 hours service had been done to the #1 engine since there were no entries of last service in the log book

- Inefficient safety program by the operator who did not detect the errors in the maintenance processes and in the conduct and control of operations

The GRIAA reported the actual crash site is at position N3.5731 W73.0787.

The GRIAA analysed that an engine oil leak caused the sequence of events. As both the engine and the propeller (feathering) system are supplied by the same oil reservoir, a leak in the system would cause the loss of oil pressure, poor lubrication in the engine and the loss of the propeller feathering system.

SKVV 091700Z 12004KT 8000 BKN020 SCT090 28/22 A2992 RMK HZ=
SKVV 091600Z 05004KT 8000 SCT020 BKN090 29/23 A2995 RMK HZ=
SKVV 091500Z 28004KT 8000 SCT020 BKN090 28/23 A2997 RMK HZ=
SKVV 091400Z VRB02KT 8000 FEW020 BKN090 27/23 A2995 RMK HZ=
SKVV 091300Z VRB02KT 8000 FEW020 BKN090 25/23 A2993 RMK HZ=
SKVV 091200Z 28004KT 8000 SCT020 BKN090 25/22 A2991 RMK HZ
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Mar 9, 2019


Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type

ICAO Type Designator

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