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Date:Monday 28 January 2002
Type:Silhouette image of generic B721 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing 727-134
Operator:TAME Ecuador
Registration: HC-BLF
MSN: 19692/498
First flight: 1967-11-20 (34 years 3 months)
Total airframe hrs:64001
Engines: 3 Pratt & Whitney JT8D-9A
Crew:Fatalities: 7 / Occupants: 7
Passengers:Fatalities: 87 / Occupants: 87
Total:Fatalities: 94 / Occupants: 94
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Aircraft fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:27 km (16.9 mls) NW of Ipiales (   Colombia)
Crash site elevation: 4481 m (14701 feet) amsl
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Quito-Mariscal Sucre Airport (UIO/SEQU), Ecuador
Destination airport:Tulcán Airport (TUA/SETU), Ecuador
Flightnumber: 120
TAME Flight 120 was a scheduled flight from Quito to Cali, Colombia via Tulcán. The Boeing 727 took off from runway 17 at 10:03 for the first leg to Tulcán. The flight climbed to the cruising altitude of FL180 and proceeded on the G-675 airway towards Ipiales from where it was to turn to Tulcán. At 10:15 the flight contacted Tulcán Tower. At that moment the airplane was 29 miles from the Tulcán NDB. The crew received permission to descend to FL140 and was given the current weather information, which included 8000 metres visibility, few clouds at 200 metres and overcast at 500 metres. The approach procedure called for a speed of 180 kts, but the actual speed was much higher at 230 knots. During the descent the airplane flew into the side of the Nevado el Cumbal Volcano at 14,700 feet, 1400 feet below the summit.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE (translated from Spanish):
1) The decision of the instructor captain and his crew to initiate and continue the operation towards Tulcan airport below the meteorological minima established in the company's SOPs.
2) Inadequate navigation and operation of the aircraft by the pilot flying and directed by the instructor captain, consisting of entering the holding pattern of the Tulcan radio beacon with a speed of 230 knots indicated airspeed and with a banking of 15 degrees exceeding the maximum stipulated speed limit of 180 knots during the entire procedure including the holding pattern and using a banking below the recommended range of 25 to 30 degrees, thus exceeding the lateral navigation and obstacle protection limits of the holding pattern, leading this operation to the collision with El Cumbal Hill.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: Aerocivil
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report
Language: Spanish

Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Mountain

» El Universo

Follow-up / safety actions

Aerocivil issued 36 Safety Recommendations

Show all...


photo of Boeing-727-134-HC-BLF
accident date: 28-01-2002
type: Boeing 727-134
registration: HC-BLF
photo of Boeing-727-134-HC-BLF
accident date: 28-01-2002
type: Boeing 727-134
registration: HC-BLF
photo of Boeing-727-134-HC-BLF
accident date: 28-01-2002
type: Boeing 727-134
registration: HC-BLF

Aircraft history
date registration operator remarks
20 NOV 1967 SE-DDB Transair Sweden
15 JUL 1981 SE-DDB Air Madeira leased
08 OCT 1981 RP-C1241 Philippine Airlines
19 JUL 1984 HC-BLF TAME Ecuador

This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Quito-Mariscal Sucre Airport to Tulcán Airport as the crow flies is 136 km (85 miles).
Accident location: Exact; as reported in the official accident report.

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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Boeing 727

  • 1832 built
  • 99th loss
  • 52nd fatal accident
  • 21st worst accident (at the time)
  • 22nd worst accident (currently)
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