VivaColombia A20N near Monteria on Oct 17th 2022, landed with just 282kg of fuel remaining

Last Update: December 1, 2022 / 09:12:19 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Oct 17, 2022


Flight number

Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
Airbus A320-200N

ICAO Type Designator

A VivaColombia Airbus A320-200N, registration HK-5378 performing flight VH-8332 from Cali to Riohacha (Colombia) with 178 passengers and 6 crew, was descending towards Riohacha Airport when the crew aborted the approach at about FL180 and entered a hold for about 30 minutes. The aircraft subsequently climbed to FL370 and was enroute to divert to Medellin when the crew again needed to abort the approach to Medellin at about 15,000 feet. The aircraft climbed back to FL210, the crew declared emergency, and diverted to Monteira (Colombia) where the aircraft finally landed on runway 32 about 2:15 hours after aborting the approach to Riohacha and about 3:20 hours after departure from Cali. The aircraft had about 100kg in its left fuel tank and about 110 kg of fuel in its right hand tank, the totalizer showed 200kg of fuel remaining.

The airline reported the aircraft needed to abort the approach to Riohacha due to bad weather and diverted to Medellin (Rio Negro). While the aircraft was approaching Medellin weather also impacted the aircraft and made a landing impossible. The crew therefore diverted to Monteira where the aircraft landed safely. The aircraft had more than 180 minutes of fuel available for the 80 minutes flight.

On Oct 27th 2022 Colombia's DIACC reported: "During the arrival to MDE terminal area, the flight crew listened to other aircraft on the frequency reporting missed approaches at MDE due to meteorological conditions; after a couple of circuits in holding, the flight crew decided to proceed to Los Garzones Airport (MTR) in Monteria (SKMR) as alternate. While enroute to MTR, at approximately 18:40 UTC, the flight crew declared MAYDAY FUEL EMERGENCY - SQUAWKING 7700. The flight landed at approximately 19:07 UTC in MTR and it taxied to the assigned parking position without further incident. According to information retrieved from FDA, the flight landed with 282 kg of fuel and it had 236 kg remaining when engines were shut-down." The occurrence was rated a serious incident and is being investigated by Colombia's DIACC.

On Dec 1st 2022 Colombia's DIACC released their preliminary report in Spanish only reporting that the aircraft touched down with 282 kg of fuel remaining. After taxi to the apron 236kg of fuel remained after the engines were shut down.

The DIACC summarized the sequence of events:

The captain (pilot flying for the occurrence sector) and the first officer (pilot monitoring) had already flown two sectors together that day without incident. Prior to departure for the occurrence sector the crew received the dispatch papers including weather information, which showed no significant weather, destination as well as the alternates in good weather conditions. The long term forecasts however showed a likely deterioration of weather conditions at the Colombian Airports at the Caribbean coast, the crew therefore continously analyzed the weather conditions there in case it was necessary to divert there.

The aircraft departed with 7000kg of fuel on board, which included 600kg extra fuel and 79kg tankering. Thus the flight did comply with the regulations and requirements by Colombia's CAA.

At 15:45Z the aircraft became airborne with 6800kg of fuel after taxi. Along the route to Riohacha the weather conditions were optimal. Prior to beginning the descent into Riohacha the crew again checked the 16:00Z weather reports which showed Riohacha in "excellent" condition and Rio Negro (Medellin) in similiar good conditions. The TAFs now showed the Caribbean Coast Airports (Santa Marta, Barranquilla, Cartagena) in unfavourable conditions including thunderstorms and reduced cloud ceiling. No TAF was available for Riohacha as Colombian weather services do not produce TAFs for Riohacha Airport.

At 16:45Z the flight began to the descent towards Riohacha. While descending through FL190 the controller informed the crew that the destination airport was closed due to a storm. The crew requested to enter a hold at FL180, entering the assigned holding at 17:03Z. The crew computed they could hold for 22 minutes before diverting to Medellin (Rio Negro). The 17:00Z Metars the crew received:
SKRH 171700Z 11010KT 1000 TSRA BKN012CB 27/25 Q1009 RMK A2982
SKSM 171700Z 31006KT 9999 FEW020TCU SCT200 33/26 Q1011 RMK TCU/E A2986
SKBQ 171700Z 19006KT 150V240 9999 VCSH SCT015TCU SCT200 31/26 Q1009 NOSIG
SKCG 171700Z 22009KT 190V250 9999 -DZ SCT015 OVC170 29/26 Q1010 RMK A2984
SKRG 171700Z 16010KT 9999 VCSH SCT018TCU SCT090 21/12 Q1024 TEMPO FM1830

Santa Marta TAFs suggested they might just encounter drizzle if they diverted there, however, considering that Barranquilla and Cartagena were showing deteriorating weather and the airline showed Santa Marta as a medium risk airport (narrow runway length 1700 meters) the crew decided to not divert to Santa Marta. While in the hold the crew received several ACARS messages suggesting to divert to Santa Marta, the crew sent reply that after assessing the conditions they would not divert to Santa Marta but divert to Medellin if necessary. The investigation found out that the ACARS messages were NOT transmitted in a timely manner but were disconcertently stuck in the system.

The crew concluded that the storm moved into the direction of the approach which would delay their approach even further. Two minutes before reaching the diversion fuel the crew inquired with the tower controller at Riohacha about the weather conditions, the controller indicated the storm was moving towards the west (the position of the aircraft), he expected the aerodrome could be operational again within 10 minutes.

At 17:22Z the crew requested to divert to Rio Negro Airport (Medellin), at that point 3200kg of fuel were remaining in the tanks (130 kg above minimum diversion fuel). A special weather report from Barranquilla showing the aerodrome in thunderstorms corroborating the crew analysis arrived.

The weather report for Medellin at 18:00z (13:00L) indicated:
SKRG 171800Z 36006KT 9999 VCSH SCT017TCU SCT023 20/13 Q1023 NOSIG
Wind from the north at 06 knots, visibility more than 10 kilometers, showers in the vicinity with scattered clouds at 1700 feet, presence of tower-cumulus, scattered clouds at 2300 feet, temperature 20 degrees Celsius, dew point 13 degrees Celsius, air pressure over sea level 1023 inches and no significant changes, which was normal report for the season and region as expressed by the crew.

At 18:09Z the crew made contact with Medellin North Approach while descending through FL250 and was cleared to descend to 16000 feet QNH 1023 hPa, the controller did not mention any new development of the weather - however, at that time Medellin Approach South already indicated that the airport was experiencing rain, the runway was wet and landing would occur on runway 19. While the aircraft was descending the company sent an ACARS message indicating lightning. At 18:12Z Approach North handed the aircraft off to Approach South. Approach South confirmed "Radar Contact" and 16000 feet cleared altitude, then became somewhat saturated with traffic circling for approach to runway 19. At 18:17Z the crew reported level at 16000 feet and was cleared to descend to 15000 feet and hold at GEMLI waypoint. The traffic circling for runway 19 initiated a go around, heard by the VivaColombia crew, reporting bad weather as reason for the go around. The crew inquired with the controller, the controller stated it was raining a lot at Medellin. In response the crew requested to and was cleared to hold immediately at VUKUL at 15000 feet. The approach controller found himself in an unexpected workload due to the deteriorating weather conditions and began to tactically stack the aircraft into holds.

At 18:19Z the captain contacted Medellin approach and queried whether there were conditions for the approach stating that they were diverting to Medellin and were quite restricted in fuel. The controller confirmed and suggested to wait for a few moments to see whether conditions would improve and to make preparations for the approach. The captain thanked.

Another aircraft holding at 16000 feet inquired about the delay to be expected to begin their approach, the controller advised they were waiting for the heavy rain to subside a little. The VivaColombia crew upon hearing the controller could not estimate the delay, already with high workload in the cockpit assessing their fuel situation, communicating with their dispatch and following all the communication with other aircraft on frequency and receiving a courtesy call from another company aircraft that had just managed to land at Medellin, began to analyse their options like Matecana de Pereira and Monteira. The Metars received read:
SKPE 171800Z 04003KT 9999 VCSH BKN017TCU 24/17 Q1016 RMK TCU VCSH/E/SE
SKMR 171800Z 23004KT 190V260 9999 BKN022 31/24 Q1009 RMK A2980.

Matecana showed rainshowers and tower cumulus clouds whereas Monteira showed in the clear. The MCDU suggested that both airports could be reached with 100 kg of fuel remaining. At that time another aircraft on the ground in Medellin located at the holding point waiting for departure requested to shut down both engines and postpone departure due to heavy hail on the runway. At 18:32Z the Rio Negro airport was closed due to thunderstorms.

At 18:26Z the crew declared "MINIMUM FUEL" and requested to immediately proceed to GEMLI for an approach to runway 01. The controller advised the crew of heavy rain and hail over the aerodrome.

A special weather report arrived:
SPECI SKRG 171830Z 22012G24KT 190V260 2000 +TSGSRA BKN012CB BKN070 13/12
Q1023 BECMG FM1900 5000 RA SCT015CB

At 18:30Z the crew requested to climb to FL210, declared Mayday Mayday Fuel, and informed ATC about their intention to divert to Monteria. After setting course towards Monteria the MCDU suggested they would arrive with 400kg of fuel remaining.

Colombia's DIACC annotated that in listening to the communication with ATC throughout the entire flight the crew maintained a calm professional and assertative disposition in their communication with ATC.

At 19:07Z the aircraft landed on Monteria's runway 14 and taxied to the apron on its own power. The aircraft was airborne for 3:40 hours and touched down with 282 kg of fuel remaining.

Metars Riohacha:
SKRH 172000Z 04006KT 9999 FEW015 SCT200 30/25 Q1007 RMK A2975=
SKRH 171900Z 06006KT 9999 FEW015CB SCT080 27/25 Q1007 REDZ RMK CB/NE A2975=
SKRH 171800Z 09012KT 3000 TSRA SCT012CB OVC020 24/24 Q1009 RMK CB/E A2981=
SKRH 171700Z 11010KT 1000 TSRA BKN012CB 27/25 Q1009 RMK A2982=
SKRH 171600Z 03008KT 320V050 9999 SCT015TCU 30/25 Q1010 RMK VCSH/N A2983=
SKRH 171500Z 11006KT 9999 BKN015 30/25 Q1011 RMK A2986=
SKRH 171400Z 12008KT 9999 BKN015 30/25 Q1011 RMK A2986=

Metars Medellin:
SKRG 172000Z 34005KT 9999 VCSH FEW010 SCT017CB BKN090 15/14 Q1022 RETSRA TEMPO FM2030 DZ SCT015CB RMK CB/SE/SW VCSH/SE A3020=
SKRG 171900Z 32010KT 4000 -TSRA BKN015CB BKN070 13/12 Q1023 RETSRAGS BECMG FM1915 DZ 9999 NSW SCT015CB RMK A3021=
SKRG 171836Z 22012G24KT 190V260 2000 +TSRAGS BKN012CB BKN070 13/12 Q1023 BECMG FM1900 5000 RA SCT015CB=
SKRG 171830Z 22012G24KT 190V260 2000 +TSGSRA BKN012CB BKN070 13/12 Q1023 BECMG FM1900 5000 RA SCT015CB=
SKRG 171814Z 23011G22KT 200V270 9999 3000S -TSRA SCT015CB BKN080 17/15 Q1023 BECMG FM1900 DZ SCT015CB RMK CB/S/W A3021=
SKRG 171800Z 36006KT 9999 VCSH SCT017TCU SCT023 20/13 Q1023 NOSIG RMK TCU/S/N VCSH/S A3022=
SKRG 171700Z 16010KT 9999 VCSH SCT018TCU SCT090 21/12 Q1024 TEMPO FM1830 DZ SCT015CB RMK TCU VCSH/SE/NW A3025=
SKRG 171600Z 07007KT 9999 SCT020TCU SCT100 21/10 Q1025 NOSIG RMK TCU/NE/SW A3028=
SKRG 171500Z VRB05KT 9999 FEW020 SCT200 21/10 Q1026 NOSIG RMK A3031=
SKRG 171420Z 22003KT 9999 FEW015 SCT200 20/12 Q1026 NOSIG RMK A3031=
SKRG 171400Z 18005KT 9999 FEW015 SCT200 18/12 Q1026 NOSIG RMK A3031=

Metars Monteria:
SKMR 172000Z 31010KT 9999 FEW022 BKN120 29/24 Q1007 RMK A2975=
SKMR 171900Z 30007KT 9999 SCT022 BKN120 31/25 Q1007 RMK A2976=
SKMR 171800Z 23004KT 190V260 9999 BKN022 31/24 Q1009 RMK A2980=
SKMR 171700Z 25003KT 190V300 9999 BKN020 31/24 Q1010 RMK A2983=
SKMR 171600Z VRB03KT 9999 SCT018 SCT200 32/24 Q1010 RMK A2985=
SKMR 171500Z 22005KT 180V260 9999 FEW015 BKN200 31/24 Q1011 RMK A2987=
SKMR 171400Z 22003KT 160V270 9999 FEW012 BKN200 29/25 Q1011 RMK A2988=
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Oct 17, 2022


Flight number

Aircraft Registration

Aircraft Type
Airbus A320-200N

ICAO Type Designator

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