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8 February 1989 - Indep. Air 1851

Independent Air Flight 1851, a Boeing 707-331B, registration N7231T, on an American charter flight from Bergamo, Italy to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, during an intended stopover approach to Santa Maria Airport in the Azores struck Pico Alto. The aircraft was destroyed with the loss of all passengers and crew.

During final approach to Santa Maria Airport, the airport controller instructed that the aircraft should descend to 3,000 feet for a runway 19 ILS approach. In that transmission, a trainee controller had also transmitted an incorrect QNH (barometric altimeter) setting that was 9 hPa too high. The approach instructions were briefly unheard since the pilot had re-keyed his mike to acknowledge the new QNH, and likely did not hear the second repeat of the 3,000 ft. safe altitude, declaring: "We’re re-cleared to 2,000 feet...". Although the first officer questioned the barometric altitude, the captain agreed that the first officer had heard the read-back correctly.

After being cleared to the ILS approach, the crew failed to accomplish an approach briefing, missing an opportunity to notice the 3,000 ft minimum safe altitude and presence of Pico Alto.

Leveling off at 2,000 ft. the airliner experienced light turbulence at 250 knots, and heavy turbulence at 223 knots at just 700 ft. (near Santo Espírito).

At 14.08 the GPWS sounded for 7 seconds, without any comment or reaction from the crew. The aircraft then crashed into the Pico Alto mountain at an altitude of 1795ft colliding with a rock wall on the side of a road.

The altimeter was found correctly set to 1027 mb.


Transcript of the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR)

13.43:57 RDO-3 Santa maria Independent Air one eight five one.
13.44:07 APP One eight five one Santa Maria go ahead.
13.44:11 RDO-3 Good morning sir I would like to request your current met report Santa Maria.
13.44:20 APP One eight five one wind two six zero ... Fourteen ah fourteen knots maximum two four knots visibility more than ten kilometers one octa at one two zero zero feet six octa at three thousand feet ah temperature one seven QNH one zero one niner.
13.44:44 RDO-3 One eight five one ah say active runway please.
13.44:48 APP Say again.
13.44:50 RDO-3 OK thanks.
13.44:50 APP Roger.
13.44:50 CAM-? It's raining to the south.
CAM-? How do like there ...
CAM-? Lorie it eyes good.
CAM-? ... OK very good.
CAM-? Real strong cross wind gotta came in something like that.
13.45:58 CAM-? -- Three zero zero - rain.
13.46:13 CAM-? Nobody ever told me anything - like this.
13.46:26 [Santa Maria VOR morse code]
13.48:16 RDO-2 Santa Maria Control Independent Air one eight five one like to descend
13.48:23 RCC Independent Air one eight five one clear to descend to flight level four zero.
13.48:30 RDO-2 Cleared to flight level four zero Independent Air one eight five one.
CAM-? -- (woman's voice)
CAM-? You are #
13.54:09 CAM-? Don't laugh #
CAM-? About twelve #
CAM-? [Laughter]
13.56:16 CAM-? Thank you #
13.56:22 CAM-? Close that door it's a jungle out here.
CAM-? Don't set up.
CAM-? First time in the Azores # Always have these clouds hanging over like this #
CAM-? Ya #
13.55:49 RCC Independent Air one eight five one what's your passing level.
13.55:53 RDO-2 Passing flight level two two zero.
13.55:57 RCC Roger report Echo.
13.56:00 RDO-2 Report ECHO Independent one eight five.
13.56:15 RDO-2 Independent one eight five zero ... one eight five one ECHO at present time.
13.56:23 RCC Roger Independent one eight five one contact Santa Maria tower on one on eight decimal one.
13.56:28 RDO-2 One one eight decimal one good day.
13.56:35 RDO-2 Good afternoon Santa Maria tower.
RDO-2 Independent Air one eight five one passing flight level two zero zero for level four zero.
13.56:47 TWR Independent Air one eight five one roger you're cleared to three thousand feet on QNH one zero two seven and ah runway will be one niner.
13.56:59 RDO-2 We're cleared to two thousand feet and a ... one zero two seven.
13.57:05 CAM-1 Make it three.
CAM-? --
13.57:12 CAM-2 Is that what he said ten twenty seven on the millibars.
CAM-1 Yeap.
CAM-3 Seat ... belt sign.
CAM-2 It's on.
CAM-3 Window heat.
CAM-2 Low.
CAM-3 Anti-ice.
CAM-2 Off.
CAM-3 Logo lights.
CAM-2 Off.
CAM-3 Emergency brake pressure.
CAM-3 Brake pressure.
CAM-2 (OK)
13.57:37 CAM-3 Altimeters.
CAM-1 Set and crosscheck.
CAM-2 Set and crosscheck.
13.57:43 CAM-3 Landing data EPR and airspeed bugs.
CAM-1 One twenty five.
CAM-2 One twenty five on the right.
CAM-1 Eighty-two seventy-nine.
CAM-2 Set and crosschecked.
CAM-3 Seatbelt and shoulder harness.
CAM-1 On the left.
CAM-2 Secured.
CAM-3 ()
13.58:09 CAM-3 We're havin' fun now.
CAM-1 Hey hey.
CAM-2 We're havin' fun now aren't we.
CAM-? Yeah.
13.58:16 CAM-3 Almost as much fun --
CAM-? I haven't heard heard that one.
CAM-? I hadn't either.
CAM-? Where'd you hear that ... where'd you come with that.
CAM-? Yeah.
CAM-? --
CAM-? [Laughter]
13.58:49 CAM-1 #
13.59:02 CAM-2 Why is this DME a hundred and ninety eight miles we are closer than that.
CAM-2 ()
13.59:08 CAM-2 I don't think they got a ... I don't think they got a DME at Santa Maria.
13.59:15 CAM-2 We got to be close to it.
13.59:18 CAM-1 Seventy miles.
13.59:32 CAM-2 Out of ten.
CAM-? [Sound]
14.02:14 CAM-2 Rudder Leon.
CAM-2 Leon.
CAM-1 (Whenever you're ready) maestro.
CAM-? Maestro ... ah ah.
14.02:28 CAM-1 () Ain't too hot out here.
14.02:31 CAM-? Yeah we'll get down below ... depends on what level those are.
CAM-? [Trim sound]
CAM-? [Whistling]
14.03:18 CAM-2 OK I'm gonna go ahead and put the ILS on mine Leon.
CAM-1 OK.
CAM-2 One ten three.
14.03:55 CAM-2 Ah after two thousand yeah we'll get below these clouds.
14.04:19 CAM-1 In case we don't ... one eight seven is the outbound.
CAM-2 Yeah.
CAM-? [laughter]
CAM-? ()
14.05:41 CAM-2 Ah tousand to go.
14.05:43 CAM-? (One to go)
14.05:51 CAM-? [Sound of engine igniters]
14.06:01 CAM-3 There is the island.
CAM-2 Where is the airport.
CAM-? On the other side of the island.
14.06:15 CAM-? [Sound of altitude alert - 500ft above selected altitude]
14.06:17 CAM-2 (Four hundred) to go
CAM-2 (Don't know if we are going to get visual or not here)
CAM-? (Gonna get rained on I know what)
14.06:46 CAM-3 Yeah.
CAM-1 [Sound of landing gear warning horn?]
CAM-? (There is no place like Santa Maria it looks nice)
CAM-? Is it.
CAM-1 (To have a beer)
14.06:57 CAM-1 We are level at two.
CAM-2 Yeah.
CAM-1 -- To the left.
CAM-1 (At eight DME)
CAM-? () Cliffs.
CAM-? Yeah.
14.07:34 CAM-2 Starting to pass throughout layers here.
14.07:52 CAM-1 Can't keep this SOB thing straight up and down.
14.07:57 CAM-2 () Help you.
CAM-1 No.
CAM-? ()
CAM-? ()
CAM-? [Sound of radio altimeter]
14.08:05 GPWS Whoop whoop pull up Whoop whoop pull up Whoop whoop pull up Whoop whoop pull up
14.08:12 [Sound of impact]

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