30 Years ago today: On 3 September 1989 a Varig Boeing 737-200 was lost over the Amazon jungle in Brazil and made a forced landing due to fuel exhaustion, killing 13 occupants.
|Date:||Sunday 3 September 1989|
|C/n / msn:||21006/398|
|First flight:||1975-02-07 (14 years 7 months)|
|Engines:||2 Pratt & Whitney JT8D-17A|
|Crew:||Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 6|
|Passengers:||Fatalities: 13 / Occupants: 48|
|Total:||Fatalities: 13 / Occupants: 54|
|Aircraft damage:||Damaged beyond repair|
|Location:||60 km (37.5 mls) from São José do Xingu, MT ( Brazil)|
|Phase:||En route (ENR)|
|Nature:||Domestic Scheduled Passenger|
|Departure airport:||Marabá Airport, PA (MAB/SBMA), Brazil|
|Destination airport:||Belém/Val-de-Cans International Airport, PA (BEL/SBBE), Brazil|
A Varig Boeing 737-200, PP-VMK, was damaged beyond repair in a forced landing in the Amazon jungle in Brazil.
Flight RG254 was a regular domestic service from São Paulo to Belém with an en route stop at Marabá. When the aircraft was preparing for departure at Marabá, the captain inadvertently entered the wrong course, 270 degrees in his Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI). The flight plan called for a course of 027 degrees.
When the copilot returned from the walk-around check, he checked the course on the captain’s HSI and inserted the same course in his HSI.
The flight took off from Marabá at 17:25. The aircraft climbed to FL290 and maintained the 270 radial of Marabá for about forty minutes. The flight was then cleared to descend to FL200 by Belém ACC. However, the crew failed to find navigational aids and lost radio contact.
Course was changed to 090 degrees as the aircraft further descended down to FL40. The crew then followed a river, heading 165 degrees. Because of the sunset and haze the pilot’s had difficulty navigating. Also, they failed to establish radio contact on several frequencies and failed to find navaids in the area. Just after finding two NDB beacons the engines lost power due to fuel shortage. The aircraft lost altitude and the pilots were forced to carry out a landing in the dark and without external references.
At about 20:45 the aircraft made a forced landing in the jungle. The aircraft was located 44 hours after the accident. Forty-one occupants survived and thirteen had sustained fatal injuries in the accident.
It appeared that the computerized flight plan used a four digit representation of the magnetic bearing with the last digit being a tenth of a degree without any decimal separator. A course of ‘027.0’ was presented as ‘0270’.