Santa Barbara ATR-42-300 Crash Site Found. No Survivors.

Friday, February 22, 2008
By George Hatcher

Santa Barbara Airlines 518 flight from Mérida to Maiquetía had 43 passengers and three crew members on board. Passenger list includes the Major of Mucuchíes Municipality, Mérida state, Alexander Quintero; foreign affairs expert Italo Luongo, and two relatives of the Vice-Minister of Citizens’ Security Tarek Al Aissami.

Six nautical miles from the Alberto Carnevalli Airport, it’s point of departure, the wreck was discovered.

Missing since Thursday, it failed to contact the Maiquetía airport air control tower within the 15 minutes after takeoff.

Venezuelan Civil Aeronautics Institute director Ramón Viñas declared in a public statement, “Given the way the airplane crashed, we believe no people survived,”

Officials with the Aeronautics Prosecution Office, physicians, pathologists, and forensic scientists and search and rescue teams are scheduled to begin removal of the aircraft and the victims.

Firefighter Department Sergeant Johnny Paz told local news TV channel Globovisión that the airplane shattered. “The plane crashed at 12,000 feet high against a stone wall in the high plateau.”

Status: Preliminary
Date: 21 FEB 2008
Time: CA 17:00
Type: ATR-42-300
Operator: Santa Bárbara Airlines
Registration: YV1449
C/n / msn: 028
First flight: 1986
Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney Canada PW120
Crew: Fatalities: 3 of 3
Passengers: Fatalities: 43 of 43
Total: Fatalities: 46 of 46 (confirmed)
Airplane damage: Written off
Location: ca 10 km NW of Mérida-A Carnevalli Airport (MRD) (Venezuela)
Phase: En route
Nature: Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport: Mérida-A Carnevalli Airport (MRD/SVMD), Venezuela
Destination airport: Caracas-Simón Bolívar International Airport (CCS/SVMI), Venezuela
Flightnumber: 518

518 departed Mérida (MRD) at 16:59 on a domestic flight to Caracas. Shortly after take-off the airplane flew into the side of a mountain. Weather reported about the time of takeoff (21:30 UTC) was:
SVMD 212100Z 29008KT 9999 SCT013 BKN100 XX/XX Q1018=
SVMD 212200Z 25005KT 9999 BKN013 OVC100 20/12 Q1021=

Film of ATR42 landing at Mérida Airport. Note the surrounding mountains and the fierce wind.

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