VASP Flight 375

VASP Flight 375 was a hijacked flight on September 29, 1988, by Raimundo Nonato Alves da Conceição, who aimed to crash the plane with 98 passengers and 7 crew aboard against the Planalto Palace in Brasília. The flight, operated by a Boeing 737-300 aircraft, left Porto Velho to Rio de Janeiro, making stops in Brasília, Goiânia and Belo Horizonte. In the final phase of the flight, between Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro, the plane was hijacked and diverted to Brasília. The hijacking was not successful and the aircraft landed safely in Goiânia. The only fatality as a result of the kidnapping was the First Officer, Salvador Evangelista.

VASP Flight 375
VASP Boeing 737-3L9; PP-SOU, November 1994 AKV (5288930788).jpg
PP-SNT, the aircraft involved in the hijacking, at Galeão Airport
Hijacking
DateSeptember 29, 1988
SummaryHijacking
SiteInitially over Minas Gerais, over Brasília;
subsequently
Santa Genoveva Airport, Goiânia
Aircraft
Aircraft typeBoeing 737-317
OperatorVASP
RegistrationPP-SNT
Flight originPorto Velho International Airport, Porto Velho
1st stopoverBrasília International Airport, Brasília
2nd stopoverSanta Genoveva Airport, Goiânia
3rd stopoverConfins International Airport, Belo Horizonte
DestinationGaleão International Airport, Rio de Janeiro
Passengers98 plus 1 hijacker
Crew7
Fatalities1 (First Officer)
Injuries3 (1 crew, 1 flight attendant, 1 hijacker)
Survivors104 (All passengers, 6 crew, 1 hijacker)

The pilot who averted the tragedy, Fernando Murilo de Lima e Silva, was honored in October 2001 by the National Aeronaut Union and received the Aeronautical Highlight trophy for avoiding the deaths of the almost 100 passengers aboard the aircraft.

HijackingEdit

By the end of the 1980s, Brazil was facing a poor economic phase with high unemployment and inflation. Raimundo Nonato Alves da Conceição, who was from a poor family and had recently lost his job, decided to punish those who thought he was guilty of the bad situation he and the country were going through: the then President of the Republic, José Sarney, launching an airplane against the Planalto Palace, where the Presidential Office is located. Raimundo bought a 32-caliber revolver and boarded VASP flight 375. It is important to note that at the time, X-ray machines and metal detectors were not used to check baggage at Confins Airport, which allowed free passage of the passenger.

The aircraft was a Boeing 737-317 (manufacturers serial number 23176, Boeing line number 1213, registration PP-SNT). It had its first flight on March 18th, 1986, and was delivered to Canadian airline CP Air on April 2nd, 1986. Subsequently, it was delivered to Brazilian airlineVASP, Morris Air and ultimately ended up in the fleet of U.S carrier Southwest Airlines. Southwest stopped service of the aircraft under the registration N698SW in 2013, and it was scrapped in Greenwood Airport.

The flight, which came from Porto Velho and stopped at Belo Horizonte, took off at 10:42 am and about 20 minutes after takeoff, with the plane already in the air space of Rio de Janeiro, Raimundo Nonato announced the hijacking: said he wanted to enter in the cockpit and shot Ronaldo Dias, a flight attendant, when he tried to stop him. He fired several times at the cockpit door, broke it open, and went inside. Upon entering, Raimundo shot the flight engineer, Gilberto Renher, who had his leg fractured by the shot. Without the hijacker noticing, pilot Fernando Murilo de Lima e Silva called for the transponder code 7500, which in the language of aeronautics indicates illegal interference (hijacking). While attempting to answer Cindacta's radio response, First Officer Salvador Evangelista was shot by the hijacker and died instantly. Raimundo then pointed the revolver at the captain and demanded that the aircraft be diverted immediately to Brasília. Raimundo eventually gave up throwing the plane against the Planalto Palace, but prevented the pilot from landing the plane with almost no fuel at Brasília International Airport or at Anápolis Air Force Base. When he approached Goiânia, the pilot made two acrobatic maneuvers (a "tonneau" and a spin) that were witnessed by a Mirage III fighter. It was successful in the second maneuver, which allowed a quick landing at Santa Genoveva Airport at 1:45 pm. On land, the hijacking and negotiations continued for several hours. The hijacker even demanded a smaller plane to flee, but around 7:00 pm, when he was descending the flight ladder using the pilot as a shield, he was shot three times by the elite Brazil Federal Police team. He died two days later, a victim of Sickle-cell disease, unrelated to the shots, according to the coroner Fortunato Badan Palhares.

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Incident description