1990 Faucett Perú Boeing 727 disappearance

On 11 September 1990, a Faucett Perú Boeing 727 airliner, registered OB-1303, disappeared in an area of the Atlantic Ocean approximately 180 miles (160 nmi; 290 km) southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland, Canada. The aircraft was being ferried back from Malta to Peru after having been leased to Air Malta, and had six crewmembers on board as well as ten passengers consisting of airline employees and their families. The last contact with the crew was a distress message stating that the aircraft had run out of fuel and that they were preparing to ditch. The aircraft was hundreds of miles off course at the time. Nothing more was ever heard from the flight, and no trace of the aircraft or any of the occupants has since been found.

1990 Faucett Perú 727 disappearance
Birmingham 25 June 1990 Air Malta Boeing 727 OB-1303.jpg
OB-1303, the aircraft involved in the accident in June 1990
Incident
Date11 September 1990 (1990-09-11)
SummaryDisappearance; presumed ditching following fuel exhaustion
SiteApproximately 180 miles (160 nmi; 290 km) southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland, Canada
Aircraft
Aircraft typeBoeing 727–247
OperatorFaucett Perú (transferal flight from Air Malta)
RegistrationOB-1303
Flight originMalta International Airport, Luqa, Malta
1st stopoverLondon, England/Milan Malpensa Airport, Italy[a]
2nd stopoverKeflavík International Airport, Keflavík, Iceland
3rd stopoverGander International Airport, Gander, Newfoundland, Canada
4th stopoverMiami International Airport, Miami, Florida, U.S.
DestinationJorge Chávez International Airport, Lima, Peru
Occupants16[b]
Passengers10
Crew6
Missing16

BackgroundEdit

The aircraft involved was a 21-year-old Boeing 727-247, registered OB-1303, that first flew in 1969.[2] The aircraft had been leased to European carrier Air Malta for the summer season of 1990 by its owner Faucett Perú, and on the day of the disappearance was being ferried back from Malta to Peru at the end of its lease.[1][2] The aircraft had been painted in Air Malta livery for the summer and remained decorated as such on the day of the disappearance.[2]

On board were six crewmembers and ten passengers[2][b] consisting of airline employees and their families.[3] The employees included mechanics and other ground crew personnel who had been working in Malta.[1] It is believed an infant was on board and up to four women.[3] All of those on board were Peruvian nationals.[3]

The aircraft was scheduled to make refuelling stops during its journey at London in England/Milan Malpensa Airport in Italy;[a] Keflavík International Airport in Iceland; Gander International Airport in Newfoundland, Canada, and finally Miami International Airport before arriving at Lima International Airport in Peru.[5] The aircraft made its first two stops without incident, with the incident occurring on the Keflavík-Gander leg.[3]

IncidentEdit

Having refuelled at Keflavík, the aircraft left Iceland for Gander at 1:16 p.m. local time without incident.[1] However, the aircraft did not arrive in Gander at its expected arrival time.[3] Thirty minutes after it was due in Gander, at 3:20 p.m., two nearby flights, TWA Flight 851 and American Airlines Flight 35, picked up a transmission from the aircraft declaring a low-fuel emergency.[2][3] The pilots had stated that they were at 10,000 feet (3,000 m) and were preparing to ditch the aircraft into the Atlantic Ocean.[2][1][4] The message was relayed by the two U.S. aircraft to air traffic control.[3] This was the last message received from the aircraft.[2][1]

The aircraft's last known location was around 250 miles (220 nmi; 400 km) southeast of the city of St. Johns, Newfoundland, and 180 miles (160 nmi; 290 km) southeast of Newfoundland at its nearest point.[3][4] This suggested that the aircraft had unknowingly strayed off course, since this was far from the planned route to Gander.[3] It is presumed that no one survived the ditching.

SearchEdit

After not hearing from the flight for hours, a rescue attempt was launched by the Canadian Armed Forces, with three CP-140 Aurora airplanes and three CH-113 Labrador helicopters being dispatched to the area where the plane was last heard from.[3][4] Two Canadian Coast Guard vessels, two fisheries patrol vessels and two naval destroyers were also dispatched to the search area.[3] A weak signal from the jet's emergency transmitter was picked up by satellite after radio contact was lost, although an exact location of the signal's source could not be identified.[3] Authorities also stated that "unusual signals" had been picked up by satellites, and did not know if these unexplained signals had come from a plane or a life raft.[6]

It was assumed that the aircraft had ditched at sea and that the aircraft could be found floating in the water.[3][4] The weather at the time of the disappearance was described as good and the seas were calm, and it was thought that the plane had the ability to withstand a landing at sea and float for several hours.[3] Visibility was also found to be good at the presumed crash site.[4] The plane was reportedly equipped with emergency lifeboats, lifevests and other safety devices to be used in the event of a ditching.[4]

Despite the search effort, the search aircraft reported finding no trace of the missing plane, and nothing was ever found from the flight.[1][2][7] Officials stated that the search was hampered by the plane's white colour, which made it difficult to spot it from the air.[4] The aircraft, the crew and passengers remain missing.

AftermathEdit

Originally, it was reported that a total of eighteen people were on board the plane at the time of its disappearance,[1][3] but Faucett Airlines officials later changed the number to fifteen because it was believed that three people had left the plane when it refuelled in Iceland.[4] Records now show that there were a total of sixteen people on board the aircraft when it disappeared.[2]

Transport Canada spokesman Lily Abbass stated in the aftermath that the jet was off course at the time of last contact, and officials speculated that the aircraft "got lost" during its journey.[3] The jet had strayed hundreds of miles from its intended route to Gander, and a reason for this could not be established.[3][6] Despite the pilots reporting that they did not have enough fuel, officials at Keflavík insisted there was no problem during the stopover there.[3] Officials from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) stated that they believed the aircraft had indeed ditched in the sea.[4] The accident was eventually attributed to poor pilot planning.[7]

The story of the aircraft's disappearance briefly resurfaced after the much-publicised disappearance of another airliner in 2014, Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, which vanished with 239 passengers on board and possibly crashed into the Indian Ocean.[7]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ a b It is not known what London airport was used, if any. According to some contemporary sources, the first stopover was at Milan, not London.[1]
  2. ^ a b Originally, it was reported that a total of eighteen people were on board the plane at the time of its disappearance,[1][3] but Faucett officials later changed the number to fifteen because it was believed that three people had left the plane when it refuelled in Iceland.[4] Records now show that there was a total of sixteen people on board the aircraft when it disappeared.[2]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Claiborne, William (12 September 1990). "Peruvian Airliner Lost in Atlantic off Canada". Washington Post. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 727-247 OB-1303 ..." Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "Plane Carrying 18 Missing in Atlantic Off Newfoundland". Associated Press. 12 September 1990. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Boeing 727 ditches in Atlantic". UPI Archives. 11 September 1990. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  5. ^ "Faucett – Bureau of Aircraft Accident Archives". Bureau of Aircraft Accident Archives. Retrieved 27 December 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Search Continues For Missing Plane". Associated Press. 12 September 1990. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  7. ^ a b c "From AF447 to MH370: How does a jet vanish in thin air? Possibilities explored". Hindustan Times. 11 March 2014. Retrieved 27 December 2020.