Saturday, June 9, 2012

Details on "Search and Rescue" of Missing Air Class Metro CX-LAS

The search for Air Class Metro CX-LAS started on Wednesday night, 06Jun12, at 2200 hours, two hours after the aircraft went missing, when a Uruguayan Air Force aircraft took off from a nearby air force base.  This plane was joined by the Uruguayan Navy ship ROU "Maldonado" that set sail at 0200 on Thursday morning in the direction of Isla de Flores some 10 miles off the Uruguayan coast near the aircraft's last-known position. 

Throughout the day on Thursday 07Jun12 two FAU (Fuerza Aerea Uruguaya) aircraft - a CASA 212 "Aviocar" and Cessna (no information on which model) - and an AS-365 "Dauphin" helicopter performed an aerial search.  Accompanied by the ROU "Maldonado" and two expeditions mounted by the Maritime Rescue Association, the search started at daybreak from the port of Montevideo eastwards as far as Piriapolis.

A reporter for El Pais, Uruguay's leading newspaper, was on board the last search flight of the day on a CASA-212 that departed Montevideo at 1715 hours.  Nine crewmembers - the captain, two first officers and six observers - manned the aircraft plus three reporters and two photographers accompanied the flight.

The plane flew parallel passes about two miles apart back and forth around Piriapolis Bay at a flight level of about 1,000 ft.  The observers looked out the side windows of the CASA but the flightcrew also dropped the rear loading ramp of the plane and three of the observers secured themselves to the seats and looked out the wide-open rear of the aircraft with binoculars looking for any signs of debris that might be from the Metro.   At 1812 hours with the light of day diminishing, the rear loading ramp was closed and the CASA headed back to Montevideo without finding anything.

Also joining the search were two Uruguayan Navy ships equipped with sonar, the "Oyarbide" and "Paysandu", which did "sweeps" of the sea floor, only 12-15 meters deep, in a three mile by three mile square area corresponding to the last known position of the Metro.  Unfortunately, neither ship found anything resembling remains of the aircraft or crew but will continue working throughout the weekend weather permitting.  

Should remains be found, the Uruguayan Navy ship "Vanguardia" will be deployed with divers trained to recover bodies, if necessary.  Recovery of the aircraft itself would come at a later date.  

On Saturday (the day of this writing) the Argentine Air Force was due to join the search with an aircraft searching Argentine territorial waters in the area around Mar del Plata, about 200 miles south of the last position of the Metro.  


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