Authorities partially re-open San Andres runway

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The Colombian Civil Aviation Authority Aerocivil has confirmed the partial reopening of San Andres Island Airport's only runway to allow for the transportation of investigation teams and passengers affected by the Aires Boeing 737-700 accident which took place early on 16 August.

"We have now opened a 4,921ft (1,500m) segment of the runway for special traffic. The full reopening of the runway and the airport will only occur once the investigation teams give the go ahead to remove the crashed aircraft", says an Aerocivil source.

He also confirms that both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder have been recovered and stresses that "all Aires operations and aircraft maintenance records" are valid and up-to-date. He also says that Aires successfully underwent a routine safety audit in July.

According to the source, the fatal flight to San Andres was the first leg for the crew that day, so crew fatigue can be excluded as a contributing factor. The Captain had logged a total of 6,784h, of which 334 were on the Boeing 737, while the copilot had 1,775h of which 700 hours were on the same aircraft type.

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He says that Aerocivil is coordinating an air shuttle to re-establish basic communications with San Andres, a Colombian territory in the Caribbean and a popular holiday destination, involving two air force C-130 transport aircraft, a medical EADS Casa C295 aircraft to evacuate five passengers who need specialised medical treatment in Bogota and an Aires Bombardier Dash 200 turboprop.

While investigators continue to probe for the cause of the crash, the president of the Colombian air controllers association ACDECTA, Carlos Arturo Bermudez, said in a radio interview, that "several Colombian airports face severe problems". According to Bermudez, in San Andres the "runway is in bad state", and the airport has experienced problems with the radar.

Yesterday, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) dispatched a team to Colombia to assist the local authorities in the investigation process.

Aires flight 8250 crash landed in San Andres on Monday at 01:49 local time in severe weather conditions. The Boeing 737-700, HK-4682, broke up in three parts, severely injuring six passengers of which one died during transport to a local hospital. More than 100 passengers were treated for lighter injuries.