A plane that crashed while carrying a Brazilian football team had run out of fuel before it could land, according to Colombian aviation authorities.
The Civil Aeronautics agency said the conclusion was based on the aircraft’s black boxes and other evidence. It said the evidence pointed to human error rather than technical problems or sabotage.
Experts had previously suggested fuel exhaustion led to the crash on 28 November that killed all but a few members of the Chapecoense football team, as well as team officials and journalists accompanying them to a championship playoff match in Medellín, Colombia. Seventy-one people died in the incident.
The BAE 146 Avro RJ85 has a maximum range of 2,965 km (1,600 nautical miles), just under the distance between Medellín and Santa Cruz in Bolivia, where the plane had taken off at almost capacity.
The jet was airborne for about four hours and 20 minutes when air traffic controllers in Medellín instructed the pilot to fly in a holding pattern because another flight had reported a suspected fuel leak and was given priority.
In a recording of a radio message from the pilot of the LaMia flight, he can be heard repeatedly requesting permission to land due to a lack of fuel and a “total electric failure”.
A surviving flight attendant and a pilot flying nearby also overheard the frantic pleas from the doomed airliner. Officials also noted that there was no explosion upon impact, pointing to a scarcity of fuel.