Eastern Air Lines Flight 980
On January 1, 1985, Eastern Air Lines Flight 980 (a Boeing 727
Boeing 727
The Boeing 727 is a mid-size, narrow-body, three-engine, T-tailed commercial jet airliner, manufactured by Boeing. The Boeing 727 first flew in 1963, and for over a decade more were built per year than any other jet airliner. When production ended in 1984 a total of 1,832 aircraft had been produced...

) struck Mount Illimani
Illimani is the highest mountain in the Cordillera Real of western Bolivia. It lies just south of La Paz at the eastern edge of the Altiplano. It is the second highest peak in Bolivia, after Nevado Sajama, and the eighteenth highest peak in South America...

 at an altitude of 19600 feet (5,974.1 m). The flight took off from Silvio Pettirossi International Airport
Silvio Pettirossi International Airport
-Incidents and accidents:*3 December 1945: an USAAF Douglas C-47B-5-DK registration 43-48602 flying from Asunción to Montevideo crashed 16km SE of Carlos Pellegrini, Argentina...

 in Asunción, Paraguay and was destined for El Alto International Airport
El Alto International Airport
El Alto International Airport is an international airport located south west of La Paz, La Paz Department, Bolivia.The airport is located in the city of El Alto and has served since the first half of the 20th century, but was modernized in the late 1960s, when its runway was lengthened and a new...

 in La Paz, Bolivia. All 19 passengers and 10 crew were killed, including the wife of the US Ambassador to Paraguay, Marian Davis.

Contributing factors were poor weather and visibility at night. Approaching La Paz, the aircraft was following airway
Airway (aviation)
In aviation, an airway is a designated route in the air. Airways are laid out between navigational aids such as VORs, NDBs and Intersections ....

 UA 320 on the 134° radial
Radial can refer to:* Vector , a line* Radius, adjective form of* A radial pattern is one that appears to radiate from a point, like the spokes from the hub of a wheel* A bearing from a waypoint, such as a VOR...

 toward the La Paz VOR
VHF omnidirectional range
VOR, short for VHF omnidirectional radio range, is a type of radio navigation system for aircraft. A VOR ground station broadcasts a VHF radio composite signal including the station's identifier, voice , and navigation signal. The identifier is typically a two- or three-letter string in Morse code...

. They passed the DAKON intersection
Intersection (aviation)
In aviation, an intersection is a virtual navigational fix that helps aircraft to maintain their flight plan. It is usually defined as the intersection of two VOR radials. They are usually identified as major airway intersections where aircraft, operating under instrument flight rules, often...

 approximately 55 nautical miles (101.9 km) from La Paz and reported the crossing at 25000 feet (7,620 m) feet, and were then instructed to descend to 18000 feet (5,486.4 m). The crew acknowledged the instruction and began their descent. At some point after this exchange, the aircraft steered significantly off the airway for unknown reasons, possibly to avoid weather.
The accident occurred 26 nautical miles (48.2 km) from La Paz VOR and 25 nautical miles (46.3 km) from runway 9R at La Paz airport. Due to the extreme high altitude and inaccessibility of the accident location, the Flight Data Recorder
Flight data recorder
A flight data recorder is an electronic device employed to record any instructions sent to any electronic systems on an aircraft. It is a device used to record specific aircraft performance parameters...

 and Cockpit Voice Recorder
Cockpit voice recorder
A cockpit voice recorder , often referred to as a "black box", is a flight recorder used to record the audio environment in the flight deck of an aircraft for the purpose of investigation of accidents and incidents...

 were never recovered.

In 2006 climbers on Mount Illimani found wreckage of the plane which had been revealed by melting ice
Retreat of glaciers since 1850
The retreat of glaciers since 1850 affects the availability of fresh water for irrigation and domestic use, mountain recreation, animals and plants that depend on glacier-melt, and in the longer term, the level of the oceans...

. No bodies were found, though various personal effects of the passengers were recovered. Local climbers believe it is only a matter of time before bodies and the Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder will emerge from the ice.

See also

  • List of accidents and incidents on commercial airliners
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