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LATAM Peru flight LA2213 collided with a fire truck while departing from Lima Airport’s only runway last week. This week, the audio of their communications was released, showing they may have exceeded their authorized position at the time of the accident. The air traffic controller also didn’t give clear instructions to the rescue team, as well as other languages passengers were listening to.

Lima Airport is often a hot destination in Lima

On Friday, November 18th, a LAN Airlines Airbus A320neo took off from Lima International Airport. The flight was delayed around 10 minutes and was supposed to leave at around 15:00 according to local reports. While accelerating at about 127 knots (235 km/h), the aircraft collided with a fire truck interfering with its takeoff, causing it to smash into the runway. Due to the collision, two firefighters- and one of them still in critical condition- died. Inside the plane, there were no victims. The airport was closed until Sunday at midnight for repairs and checks as well as canceling hundreds of flights, impacting thousands of stranded passengers who arrived after their flights had been canceled.

A lot of people seem to be pointing fingers in the aftermath of the accident. The Peruvian authorities detained the LATAM pilots and suspended their air traffic controllers.

After an incident at the Lima Airport, the hub administrator said that it was the responsibility of the National Corporation of Commercial Airports and Aviation (Corpac) to coordinate air traffic. However, Corpac itself has said that the firefighters mistakenly entered a taxiway when they were supposed to go on a runway.

On November 18th, Greater Lima Area Rescue Team (GREAT) demonstrated the logistics and coordination of their response to an emergency on a runway at Lima Airport. The exercise calls for squads to arrive by land, air and water in less than three minutes. LAP coordinator Luis Berizzo said the exercise occurred previously with Corpac and was executed successfully in the past. The Aviation Authority accompanied this demonstration to assess the operational coordination capability of the rescue coordinators with regard to an emergency scenario.

The aeronautical firefighters carried out the exercise “duly authorized and under the current aeronautical regulation.” The LATAM delay of departure may have played a key role in the accident.

What can you hear in this audio clip?

On Monday, Cuarto Poder revealed the audio exchanges between the air traffic controllers, firefighters, and pilots aboard LATAM flight LA2213.

Aviacionline’s report about the fire department’s communications show that the firefighter vehicle was authorized to approach up to ninety meters away from the runway axis.

At 15:04:59, the Controllers told the three-truck response team that they were cleared to approach Runway 04L from ninety meters from the center of the runway axis and fly over and stop at the cones on either side of Pitch 1. To ensure safety with a low probability of hitting a plane on takeoff, Rescue 6 was one minute ahead of schedule with their time-out. Four minutes later, at 15:09:01, the Response Time exercise was confirmed, and seconds later, at 15:11:00 LAP issued his final clearance to enter Taxiway Alpha. At this time LATAM’s flight departed on their four minute time out and collided with a fire truck arriving on Taxiway Bravo while it was in process.

The Peruvian aviation authorities have launched an investigation of the accident and will be able to sift through all the causes, including safety culture. We’ll have to wait for Peru’s report before we know all the possible causes that led to it.