Saturday, August 18, 2012

CASA C-212 Aviocar 300DF, 966, Chilean AF: Accident occurred September 2, 2011 off Isla Robinsón Crusoe Airport


Damning findings in fatal plane crash investigation lead to legal action against FACH. The results of an investigation into the tragic CASA 212 plane crash prompted lawyers of victims’ families to file a request to prosecute former commanders of the Chilean Air Force (FACH) on Friday. CASA 212 was piloted by FACH Lieutenant Carolina Fernández, who died in the crash as well. 

 The investigation, published earlier this month by Chile’s Air Accident Investigation Board (JIAA), concluded that a failure by the FACH to instigate protocol in adverse weather conditions led to the accident that claimed 21 lives off Juan Fernández island in September last yearAmong the dead were well-known Chilean TV star Felipe Camiroaga and philanthropist Felipe Cubillos.

“It is now very clear that the Air Force is responsible for the fatal accident,” Cristián Arias, one of the lawyers, told The Santiago Times. “We have asked for these responsibilities to be recognized.”

Arias and two other lawyers representing the families of the victims asked for five former FACH commanders, including former head of the General Department of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Col. Guillermo Castro Guzmán, to be prosecuted for manslaughter and failure to carry out military duties.

In June this year, the plane manufacturer, Airbus Military, ruled out mechanical failure, leaving adverse weather conditions and human error as possible causes of the accident. JIAA’s report showed that the DGCA provided the pilot with an inaccurate weather report. Chile’s Meteorological Directorate later showed weather conditions to be far more severe than those indicated by the DGCA.

According to the JIAA, air currents can be extremely volatile around Juan Fernández island, and the DGCA has in place established protocol when landing on the island in certain conditions— a protocol that was not followed in the case of flight CASA 212.

Families of the victims said they are “satisfied” with the request for prosecution, filed Friday with judge Juan Cristóbal Mera.

“This is unfortunately part of what must be done,” said María Graciela Quinteros, mother of Lieutenant Fernández. “All the families have met and we agree that this is necessary.”

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