Minutes after taking off from the Guadalupe Victoria Airport in Durango, an Embraer ERJ190 AR flying under the XA-GAL registration number and operated by Mexican carrier Aeroméxico Connect (one of Grupo Aeroméxico’s airlines) crash landed a few hundred meters beyond the airstrip. There were no casualties among the 99 passengers and four crew members onboard the plane. The plane operated under the designator AM2431 and was covering the Durango-Mexico City route when it plummeted into a vacant lot close to the airport.
According to reports of A21, 17 people were admitted to various hospitals in the state of Durango. Only two people are in a critical condition: Pilot-In-Command Captain Carlos Galván suffered a neck injury and an eight-year-old child sustained first- and second-degree burns over 25 percent of her body. The Mexican Ministry of Communications and Transport reported in a press release posted on August 1 that most affected people who were admitted to hospital had already been discharged.
In a press conference offered on Monday, Andrés Conesa, Director General of Grupo Aeroméxico, expressed apologies on behalf of the airline and declared that Aeroméxico is doing everything it can to assist the people involved in the accident and their families. He added that Aeroméxico collaborates with Mexico’s General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC) to investigate the causes of the accident and asked the media to wait for the results of the investigation on the causes of the incident.
Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, Mexico’s Minister of Communications and Transport, said a commission has been formed to investigate and determine what caused AM2341 to fall. He added that the commission will have the participation of DGAC, the Mexican Air Pilots Union (ASPA) and receive technical assistance from the US’ National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Aviation Agency (FAA). Meanwhile, Brazilian planemaker Embraer has deployed a team of experts to the scene and vows to support Mexican aviation authorities in the investigation. Ruiz Esparza highlighted that the results of this investigation will be available prior to the end of the Peña Nieto administration.
The commission is in the process of identifying, classifying and safeguarding the aircraft debris, finding its blackboxes, interviewing the flight’s crew, passengers and land crew and air traffic controllers and gathering meteorological information, radar images and audio recordings from the Durango airport control tower and closed-circuit cameras.
José Rosas Aispuro, Governor of the state of Durango, said a blast of air forced AM2341 to descend and hit the ground with the left wing, which caused the detachment of both aircraft engines. He added that the aircraft landed off the runway and continued moving on the ground for 300m until it came to a stop. Rosas Aispuro said that since the plane remained in a horizontal position, the emergency slides were activated and everybody onboard was able to evacuate before the craft caught fire.
Conesa praised the timely action of the pilots and flight attendants onboard AM2341 and said that Aeroméxico will cover all the expenses related with the medical treatment of passengers and crewmembers and the transportation of families to Durango. Representatives of Mexico’s Air Pilots Union (ASPA) and Flight Attendants Union (ASSA) as well as the Mexican College of Air Pilots (CPAM) recognized the role of the flight crew in the total and immediate evacuation of all passengers.
After the incident, fellow carriers Volaris, Interjet and Viva Aerobus expressed support for the people affected, their families, Aeroméxico, the authorities of the Durango airport and the rescue teams that arrived to the crash site.
The Embraer ERJ190 that was involved in the accident is 10 years old, entered service in 2008, last received maintenance in February 2018 and was first added to the Aeroméxico Connect fleet in 2014 after being operated by US Airways and Republic Airway.