A Rico Linhas Aèreas Embraer EMB-120ER Brasilia (PT-WRO) crashed on 14 May about 18km (11m) north of its final destination, Manaus Eduardo Gomes airport, Brazil, killing the three crew and 30 passengers. Brazilian investigators say possible causes are controlled flight into terrain and a runaway propeller event.

Flight RLE 4815 from Tabatinga via São Paulo de Olivença and Tefè had left Tefè and entered the Manaus terminal area at 18:15 local time when airport air traffic control requested that it delay its approach to runway 10/28 to allow a Piper PA-34 to land. The Brasilia maintained a holding pattern at 2,000ft (610m) north of the airport, and 5min later ATC radar lost the aircraft signal. The flight-data and cockpit-voice recorders were badly fire-damaged in the crash.

Wreckage was found in dense jungle by a Brazilian army Aerospatiale SA365K Panther shortly after 03:00 local time. Preliminary data indicated that the aircraft had brushed treetops at high speed before crashing. Although intermittent light rain was registered before the Brasilia's arrival, it is not believed that weather conditions were a factor. Visibility was clear with only a few clouds at 2,000ft. Initial local reports had indicated that the EMB-120 might have experienced fuel exhaustion since it had not refuelled at Tabatinga, although this has been denied by Rico Linhas Aèreas.

The Manaus-based airline lost another Brasilia in August 2002 when a Rio Branco-bound flight crashed on approach in heavy rain, killing 23 passengers and crew. Now operating two Embraer EMB-110P Bandeirantes and two Embraer EMB-120ER Brasilias, the carrier is due to receive its third ex-Varig Boeing 737-200 later this month.


Source: Flight International