As most of you have probably seen by now, on Friday a LATAM Airbus A320neo was involved in an accident while taking off from Lima Airport. The plane hit a fire truck on the runway at a high speed — while all passengers and crew managed to evacuate safely, unfortunately two fire fighters died in the collision, and one is critically injured.
There are a couple of further updates to this story, one of which is kind of shocking.
LATAM pilots were arrested after accident
The International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA), which represents more than 100,000 pilots in nearly 100 countries, has released a statement regarding this incident. Specifically, IFALPA reports that the pilots of LATAM flight LA2213 were placed under arrest and held in custody following the accident.
They apparently spent roughly 24 hours in jail, and were only released on Saturday night. IFALPA is calling this situation “unacceptable.” Per the statement:
Holding individuals in custody who are already under intense psychological pressure due to an accident is extremely detrimental to flight safety and can only hinder the investigation. Further, it shows a complete disregard for the Positive Safety Culture principles laid out by Annexes 13 (Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation) and 19 (Safety Management) to the Convention on International Civil Aviation. It may also lead the public to conclude that the accident resulted from the flight crew’s intentional acts, rather than technical issues or a string of errors originating from multiple factors.
In any similar circumstances, the flight crew should be provided immediate medical care and evaluation. In no circumstances is it appropriate to question them in the immediate aftermath of any accident or incident until they have been professionally evaluated by qualified medical personnel who can determine their mental and physical fitness to contribute accurate information to investigators.
Indeed, this is incredibly shocking and seems out of line. First of all, I can’t even imagine the mental torment that airline pilots deal with following an accident, regardless of whether or not they played any role in it happening.
Furthermore, conducting a full investigation can take months or even years, and you’re never going to know the details immediately following an accident. So while pilots have in the past sometimes faced charges when an accident was determined to be pilot error, this would be completely premature.
The fact that the pilots were arrested is even worse when you consider the details we know so far about the incident, which points to the pilots having done nothing wrong.
What we know about the cause of this accident
While accident investigations can take a long time, we already have quite a few confirmed details about the cause of this. How did it happen that both a LATAM Airbus A320neo and a fire truck were on the runway at the same time? The Peruvian Corporation of Commercial Airports and Aviation (CORPAC) has confirmed several details already:
- It has been confirmed that the LATAM A320neo had takeoff permission
- It has been confirmed that airport rescue services were doing a safety exercise
- It has been confirmed that the airport rescue services didn’t have permission to cross the runway, and that the training exercise was supposed to be held off the runway
So while we’ll have to wait and learn what caused the fire truck to think it was okay to enter the runway, so far there’s nothing pointing to the pilots having been negligent. That makes it even worse that they had been placed under arrest after this accident.
On Friday, a LATAM Airbus A320neo collided with an airport fire truck during takeoff at Lima Airport. While all the passengers and crew managed to safely evacuate, tragically there were some fatalities in the fire truck.
It’s shocking to learn that the two LATAM pilots were arrested following the accident, and remained in custody for 24 hours. There’s nothing yet pointing to them having done anything wrong, and I can only imagine what their mental state must have been like following this accident. This seems unacceptable, and isn’t in line with international standards.
What do you make of Peru having arrested these LATAM pilots?