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Holding Pattern

On Jan 25, 1990, Avianca Flight 52 from Colombia crashed just 15 miles short of New York’s Kennedy International Airport, killing 73 passengers. Reason: the plane just ran out of gas. Under international regulations, an airliner must carry enough fuel to reach its destination as well as its assigned alternate, plus enough extra to handle at least 45 minutes of delays. Due to low fuel condition, the Avianca pilots had requested “priority” (not “emergency”) landing. Because the exact word “emergency” was not used, and due to heavy traffic and bad weather conditions, the ill-fated plane was placed on a holding pattern…until it simply ran out of gas.

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