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Published on Aug 23, 2007
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VASP Flight 168, a Boeing 727-212A, serial number 21347, registered PP-SRK, was a scheduled passenger flight from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Fortaleza on June 8, 1982, which crashed into terrain while descending into Fortaleza, killing all 137 people on board. Flight 168's first leg was from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro, which was completed uneventfully. The flight then departed Rio on its way to Fortaleza. As the flight approached its destination, it was cleared to descend from its cruising altitude of FL330 (approx. 33,000 feet Mean sea level) to 5,000 feet. Flying at night, with the lights of the city of Fortaleza in front, the Boeing 727 descended through its 5,000 feet clearance limit, and kept on descending until it crashed into a mountainside at 2,500 feet. Investigation revealed that the captain, possibly disoriented due to bright lights from the city ahead, continued the descent well below the 5,000 feet clearance limit, despite being warned twice by the altitude alert system, as well as by the co-pilot, of the terrain ahead. As the Boeing kept descending, it struck a wooded mountainside at 2,500 feet and crashed.
From the final cockpit voice recorder translated transcript:
F/O = First Officer CAPT = Captain
F/O: Can you see there are some hills in front? CAPT: What? There's what? F/O: Some hills, isn't there? [Sound of impact]