Avianca Flight 203

Avianca Flight 203 was a Colombian domestic passenger flight from El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá to Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport in Cali, Colombia. It was destroyed by a bomb over the municipality of Soacha on November 27, 1989.[1] All 107 people on board as well as 3 people on the ground were killed. The bombing had been ordered by the Medellín drug cartel.

Avianca Flight 203
Avianca Boeing 727-21 HK-1803.jpg
HK-1803, the aircraft involved in the bombing
Bombing
DateNovember 27, 1989
SummaryBombing
SiteCerro Canoas, Soacha, Colombia
4°33′30″N 74°15′45″W / 4.55833°N 74.26250°W / 4.55833; -74.26250Coordinates: 4°33′30″N 74°15′45″W / 4.55833°N 74.26250°W / 4.55833; -74.26250
Total fatalities110
Aircraft
Aircraft typeBoeing 727-21
OperatorAvianca
RegistrationHK-1803
Flight originEl Dorado Int'l Airport
DestinationAlfonso Bonilla Aragón Int'l Airport
Occupants107
Passengers101
Crew6
Fatalities107
Survivors0
Ground casualties
Ground fatalities3

Aircraft and crewEdit

The aircraft was a Boeing 727-21 with registration number HK-1803, serial number 19035, and manufacturing serial number 272. It had been purchased from Pan Am. The aircraft was built in 1966, and had its maiden flight on May 19 of the same year. The aircraft was powered by three Pratt & Whitney JT8D-7 turbofan engines capable of developing up to 12,000 pounds (5,400 kg) of thrust each. The aircraft was delivered to Pan Am on May 28, and was registered as N326PA. Avianca purchased the aircraft on November 15, 1975, when it was re-registered as HK-1803.[2][3]

The captain was José Ignacio Ossa Aristizábal, the first officer was Fernando Pizarro Esguerra, and the flight engineer was Luis Jairo Castiblanco Vargas. There were three flight attendants on board.[4]

FlightEdit

Flight 203 took off as scheduled at 7:13 a.m. Five minutes into the flight, at a speed of 794 kilometres per hour (493 mph) and an altitude of 13,000 feet (4,000 m), an explosive charge detonated, causing fuel vapors in the empty central fuel tank to ignite. Eyewitnesses on the ground reported seeing fire erupt out of the right side of the aircraft's fuselage. A second blast ripped the airliner apart; the nose section separated from the tail section, which went down in flames. The wreckage was scattered in a three-mile radius around the town of Soacha. All 107 people on board were killed, as well as three people on the ground who were killed by falling debris.[2][5]

AftermathEdit

An investigation determined that plastic explosives were used to destroy the plane.[6] Drug king Pablo Escobar, of the Medellín drug cartel, planned the bombing in the lead-up to the 1990 elections, hoping the bomb plot would kill presidential candidate César Gaviria Trujillo.[7]: 80 [8] One account states that two unidentified men dressed in suits who worked for Escobar carried the bomb on board. The men sat in seats 18A and 18K, located above the main fuel tank. At the last moment, one of the men left the aircraft, while his partner stayed on board and was killed in the bombing. A young Colombian man named Alberto Prieto was duped into staying on the flight and activating the bomb once the aircraft had become airborne thus unknowingly killing himself; he had been told the device was just a recorder he had to turn on to record the conversation of a nearby couple of passengers; because of this, the man had been nicknamed "El Suizo", or "The Swiss", in reference to his role as a "suicide" bomber.[9] Gaviria was not on the aircraft, despite Escobar's expectations, and went on to become President of Colombia.[7]: 81  Two Americans were among the dead, prompting the Bush Administration to begin Intelligence Support Activity operations to find Escobar.[7]: 81 [10]

Nine days after the bombing of the plane, the DAS Building bombing, presumably also ordered by the Medellín Cartel, killed 63 people in Bogotá.

Dandeny Muñoz Mosquera, the chief assassin for the Medellín Cartel, was convicted in 1994 in United States District Court of having been involved in the bombing and various other crimes, and was sentenced to 10 consecutive life sentences.[5][11]

Avianca has not retired the flight number. Avianca 203 is, as of 2022, a flight from Orlando to Medellin.

Later eventsEdit

On November 28, 2016, the Colombian newspaper El Espectador started publishing an investigative report, consisting of 8 chapters, on Flight 203.[12] It argues that the explosion was caused by a malfunctioning fuel pump inside a tank which had been reported several times before.[13] The report was heavily criticized by Avianca and family members of the victims.[14]

In popular cultureEdit

This event is dramatized in Season 1, Episode 6 of Narcos (2015).

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Vuelo 1803, 20 años después" [Flight 1803, 20 years later]. YouTube (in Spanish). Testigo Directo. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  2. ^ a b Ranter, Harro. Ranter, Harro; Lujan, Fabian I.; Jackman, Frank; Millam, Mark; Solorzano, Liz; Martin, Louise; Shahidi, Hassan; Nolan, Conor; Quinn, Kenneth P.; Watret, John R.; Hamilton, John; Lederer, Jerry (eds.). "Aircraft accident Boeing 727-21 HK-1803 Bogotá-Eldorado Airport (BOG)". Aviation Safety Network (ASN). Alexandria, United States: Flight Safety Foundation. Archived from the original on 12 October 2012. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  3. ^ Saffe, Omar Alex; Simon, De Rudder; Pamela, de Boer; Low, Dana; Jeuken, Sandra; Dominguez, Gerardo; Rowson, James; Sowa, Sebastian. Saffe, Omar Alexander; De Rudder, Simon; De Boer, Pamela; Low, Dana; Dominguez, Gerardo; Jeuken, Sandra; Rowson, James; Sowa, Sebastian; Kuhn, Stefan; Stam, Erwin (eds.). "HK-1803: Boeing 727-21 - 19035, operated by Avianca". JetPhotos (jetphotos.net). Stockholm, Sweden: Flightradar24 AB. Archived from the original on 28 November 2021. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  4. ^ "Tras 25 años, familiares de víctimas de explosión en avión de Avianca instaurarán demanda ante CIDH" [After 25 years, relatives of victims of an explosion in Avianca plane will file a complaint with the IACHR]. RCN Radio (in Spanish). 2014-11-21. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  5. ^ a b Prendergast, Alan (17 May 2001). Calhoun, Patricia; Le, Jane R.; Wilson, Michael; Eul, Patrick; Arneson, Chris; Kirk, Erin; Seidel, Allie; Koepke, Tyler; Speed, Chris; Padilla, April; Hortik, Anna; Dunahay, Sarah; Kontrelos, Tracy; Tobias, Scott (eds.). "The hit man nobody knows". Westword. Denver, United States: Denver Westword, LLC. (Voice Media Group/VMG National/Voice Media Group, LLC.). Archived from the original on 5 February 2021. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  6. ^ González, Jorge (28 November 1989). Elvira, Enrique; Blasco, Isaac; Martínez, Álvaro; Juan, Fernández-Miranda; Rodríguez, Alexis; de Rivas, Eduardo; Sanz, Jorge; Gutiérrez, Isabel; Pérez, María Jesús; Ramírez, Nuria; Basco, Sebastián; Luca de Tena, Catalina; Rubido Ramonde, Bieito (eds.). "Más de cien muertos al estallar en vuelo un avión colombiano" [More than a hundred dead when a Colombian plane explodes in flight]. Diario ABC (in Spanish). Vol. 86, no. 27068. Madrid, Spain: Diario ABC, S.L. (Grupo Vocento/Vocento, S.A.). p. 17. ISSN 1136-0232.
  7. ^ a b c Bowden, Mark (2001). Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw (1st ed.). New York, United States: Atlantic Monthly Press. ISBN 0-87113-783-6.
  8. ^ "OBJETIVO: GAVIRIA" [OBJECTIVE: GAVIRIA]. Semana (in Spanish). 8 May 1995. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  9. ^ Viana, Israel (27 November 2019). Elvira, Enrique; Blasco, Isaac; Martínez, Álvaro; Juan, Fernández-Miranda; Rodríguez, Alexis; de Rivas, Eduardo; Sanz, Jorge; Gutiérrez, Isabel; Pérez, María Jesús; Ramírez, Nuria; Basco, Sebastián; Luca de Tena, Catalina; Rubido Ramonde, Bieito (eds.). "Avianca 203: lo que no te contaron de los 110 muertos (y sus asesinos) del peor atentado de Pablo Escobar" [Avianca 203: what they didn't tell you about the 110 dead (and their murderers) of Pablo Escobar's worst attack]. Diario ABC (in Spanish). Madrid, Spain: Diario ABC, S.L. (Grupo Vocento/Vocento, S.A.). ISSN 1136-0232. Archived from the original on 4 December 2019. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  10. ^ "El 'Suizo', el hombre que voló avión de Avianca durante los aciagos tiempos del narcoterrorismo" [The 'Swiss', the man who flew Avianca's plane during the dark days of narcoterrorism] (in Spanish). Semana. 2007-08-06. Archived from the original on 2013-07-18. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  11. ^ Cooper, Michael (1995-05-06). "For Medellin Assassin, 10 Life Sentences". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-08-09.
  12. ^ Hoffman, Thomas; Correa, Pablo; Silva, Sergio. "Avianca 203, la historia que nunca nos contaron" [Avianca 203, the story they never told us]. El Espectador (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  13. ^ Hoffman, Thomas; Correa, Pablo; Silva, Sergio (December 2, 2016). "Avianca 203, la historia que nunca nos contaron. Capitulo 5: El detalle inconveniente" [Avianca 203, the story they never told us. Chapter 5: The inconvenient detail]. El Espectador (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  14. ^ "Familiares de fallecidos de avión de Avianca, en 1989, responden a investigación de El Espectador" [Family members of Avianca's plane dead in 1989 respond to El Espectador's investigation]. El Espectador (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-04-13.

External linksEdit