With another fatal accident over the Nazca lines, will action finally be taken?

February 28th, 2010

The casual disregard for the lives of passengers by most of the operators of flights over the Nazca lines resulted in another fatal crash last week, this time killing six passengers and a pilot.

The overloaded Cessna, built for carrying a maximum of six people including the pilot, fell from the sky near El Mirador.

News reports of the criminal lack of security measures at Nazca are common. Not so long ago it was reported that many of the planes the carry tourists are over 50 years old. Other reports focus on the poor maintenance records.

Previous accidents

In March of 2008, five French citizens were killed after mechanical failures caused their plane to crash. The aeroplane was operated by Aeroica (Aero Ica) which had its operations shut down. The company had lied to the press indicating that a passenger panicked and caused the crash. Later investigations found that the plane had no fuel on board – apparently part of a effort to cut costs by having the planes glide back with the engine turned off.

An aircraft of same company, having changed its name and resumed operations, was forced to make a an emergency landing due to a badly maintained engine failing mid-flight.

It was this very same aircraft that crashed last week. It beggars belief that this occurred during a period authorities declared was a time of “zero tolerance”.

Again, Guillermo Horles, the owner of the company now called Nazca Airlines invented a story for the press: the pilot had a heart attack mid-flight. This though was immediately discarded by the pilot’s doctor who said that he was in good health – a risky decision to take in a town where locally wealthy and power flight company owners have a lot of influence.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications decided to ban all flights in the aftermath of the crash, while they finally undertook the zero-tolerance measures that they were supposed to have been taking up until now.

Flights resumed

Worryingly, just seven aircraft of the dozens that operated have been given permission to resume flights after safety checks. Just 4 out of 14 companies providing the service have been approved to continue to operate.

According to the MTC, the opperators with aircraft in a condition that won’t cause them to fall from the sky are:

Aero Diana with 1 aircraft, Aero Paracas with 2, Alas Peruanas with 2 and Travel Air also with 2 – though bare in mind that these same companies may have had other aircraft operating in a bad condition.

It is also recommended that tourists use common sense and not board a small plane with more passengers than seats available.

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