It was LaMia’s only operational plane, and had been part-owned by the pilot.
The aircraft carrying Brazil’s Chapecoense football team went down near Medellin, Colombia. There were only six survivors.
According to O Globo, a Brazilian news outlet, the first leg of the journey from São Paulo to Santa Cruz de la Sierra was delayed by around one hour. That meant that the refuelling stop in Cobija was not possible, as the airport there shuts down at night. So, the pilot opted to fly directly from Santa Cruz de la Sierra to Medellín.
That decision has become the subject of tremendous scrutiny. The range of the plane model, a British AVRO RJ-85 jet, is 2,965km with a full tank of fuel, according to JACDEC, an air-safety website. That is less than the distance between the two airports. Global civil-aviation regulations state that any plane flying internationally must carry enough fuel to make it to an alternate airport, and enough to fly for 30 minutes after that. And yet somehow, the plane was on course to arrive safely. Mr Quiroga had requested for priority to land with air-traffic control, but he was rebuffed: another plane had a fuel leak and needed to land first. Only after that, when the jet had already begun to descend, did he declare an emergency.
It is not clear how or why the last-minute change in flight plan was approved. According to El Deber, a Bolivian newspaper, airport officials in Santa Cruz de la Sierra raised several questions about it. Mr Quiroga reportedly made various verbal guarantees that the plane had enough fuel for the trip.
Then there’s Occam’s razor: the owner was cutting corners.