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Published on May 7, 2008
Photo Credit: Jay Selman/www.Airliners.Gallery.com
ATC, Tower: Green Pilot: Yellow Copilot: Blue
Aeroperú Flight 603 was a scheduled flight from Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima, Peru (LIM), to Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport in Santiago, Chile, which crashed on October 2, 1996. The flight originated from Miami, Florida, United States's Miami International Airport.
On October 2, 1996, shortly after takeoff just past midnight, the Boeing 757 airliner crew discovered that their basic flight instruments were behaving erratically and reported receiving contradictory serial emergency messages from the onboard computer, such as rudder ratio, overspeed, underspeed and flying too low. The crew declared an emergency and requested an immediate return to the airport. Faced with the lack of reliable basic flight instruments, constantly receiving contradictory warnings from the aircraft's flight computer (some of which were valid and some of which were not), and continuously believing that they were at a safe altitude, pilot Eric Schreiber and copilot David Fernández decided to cautiously begin the descent for the approach to the airport. Since the flight was at night over water, no visual references could be made to convey to the pilots their true altitude or aid the pilots in the descent. Also, as a consequence of the pilot's inability to precisely monitor the aircraft's airspeed or vertical speed they experienced multiple stalls resulting in rapid loss of altitude with no corresponding change on the altimeter. While the altimeter indicated an altitude of approximately 9,700 feet, the aircraft's true altitude was in fact much lower. It struck the water approximately twenty-five minutes after emergency declaration, making the pilots realize the true altitude of the airliner; for twenty seconds the pilots tried to make the airliner climb. The airliner then crashed into the water. All nine crew members and sixty-one passengers died.
After the crash recovery crews found nine bodies floating; the rest of the bodies sank with the airliner.