LAPA Flight 3142 Becomes Argentina’s Second-Deadliest Air Accident Ever

On August 31, 1999, exactly 23 years ago today, LAPA Flight 3142 crashed at 20:54 local time after failing to get airborne while taking off from Aeroparque Internacional Jorge Newbery (AEP) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Three crew members, 60 passengers This was the second-deadliest accident in Argentine aviation history following the crash of Austral Líneas Aéreas Flight 2553 in 1997, in which all 74 people died onboard.

The aircraft involved in the LAPA flight was a 29-year-old Boeing 737-200 with the registration LV-WRZ. The plane was delivered initially to Britannia Airways in 1970 before going to France’s TAT ​​- Transport Aérien Transrégional in 1990 and then LAPA in 1996. At the time of the crash, the plane had accumulated 64,564 hours of flight time and 38,680 takeoff/landing cycles.

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Captaining the plane was 45-year-old Gustavo R. Weigel, who had 6,500 flying hours, of which 1,700 was on the Boeing 737. The first officer for the flight was 31-year-old Luis Etcheverry, who had 4,000 flying hours, 600 of which were on the Boeing 737.

The lead-up to the accident

On the evening of the crash, Captain Weigel arrived at the airport one hour before the flight as usual ready to fly to Ingeniero Aeronáutico Ambrosio LV Taravella International Airport (COR) in the city of Cordoba. First Officer Luis Etcheverry arrived shortly after, and the two struck up an informal chat with the flight dispatcher.

Together they went over the weather conditions and the NOTAMs for the destination airport and alternative airports should they be unable to land in Cordoba. Having seen that the weather conditions were good, Captain Weigel selected Aeroparque Jorge Newbery as the alternative airport and calculated how much fuel would be needed for the flight.

First Officer Etcheverry boarded the plane and was followed shortly after by Captain Weigel. The entire briefing lasted for around ten minutes, during which there were no unusual incidents from either of the two pilots. According to the dispatcher, both men seemed in good spirits and began talking about trivial matters, which led to talking about their personal relationships. The captain said that he was going through bad times, and the co-pilot stated that things were not so good with him either.

While still in conversation, they began going over the Procedures Control List (PCL) along with irrelevant personal information that had nothing to do with the flight. The conversation continued during the pushback, engine start, and while taxiing out to the runway. delayed due to heavy traffic and another aircraft waiting to take off in front of them. As the plane began moving down the runway for takeoff, it passed V1 and then V2 but failed to become airborne and crashed.

The investigation

The investigation into the accident was done by the Junta de Investigaciones de Accidentes de Aviación and assisted by the American National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) along with the FAA and representatives from Pratt & Whitney. Both the black box and cockpit voice recorder were sent to NTSB headquarters in Washington

DC for examination.

Armed with the information, the NTSB put together an animated film of the failed takeoff. They concluded that the plane had undergone regular maintenance and that everything was working fine. They concluded that the aircraft engines were working as they should have until the impact with the construction vehicles.

The conclusion

A separate investigation focused on the flaps since their lack of deployment pointed to the cause of the crash. The investigation concluded that the plane failed to take off because the pilots had forgotten to extend the flaps for takeoff. Contributing factors were:

  • Lack of crew discipline
  • Excessive conversation not relevant to the flight
  • A failure to read the checklist correctly
  • A failure to abort the takeoff after the alarm sounded
  • A failure by Boeing to fit an alarm that the crew did not need to respond to

Both pilots, one other crew member, and 63 of the one hundred passengers died in the crash, along with two people in the car that the aircraft hit.

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