Amazon Turboprop Crash Kills 10

 - March 18, 2013, 12:15 PM

Nine hydroelectric workers and the pilot died when an air taxi crashed on approach to the Monte Dourado airfield at Almeirim in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest on March 12. The EMB 820 Carajá, an Embraer-built version of the Piper Navajo powered by a pair Pratt & Whitney PT-6A-27 turboprops, had been operated by air taxi firm Fretax since 2010.

The only pilot aboard, José Carlos Jr., 28, left Belém at 7 p.m. and the accident is estimated to have occurred about 8:26 p.m. after the aircraft, tail number PT-VAQ, announced its approach and then failed to make further radio contact. The wreckage was found on the morning of March 13 almost three miles from the runway in a reforestation area.

The identities of the victims, all Brazilian workers for contractor CESBE, one of the builders of the Santo Antônio do Jirau dam in the neighboring state of Amapá, will be determined by DNA analysis.

Brazil’s civil aviation authority, ANAC, suspended Fretax’s operating license on March 14. A Brazilian charter industry source told AIN, “For a Part 135 flight with passengers, a copilot is always required.”

The aircraft’s paperwork was up to date, and Fretax claimed that the pilot’s licenses were also in order and that the engines had recently undergone maintenance.

Investigation agency Cenipa said it is too early to determine the cause.