14 missing After Transaven LET L-410 Crash In Venezuela

A plane carrying 14 people, including eight Italians and one Swiss passenger, crashed into the sea close to a group of Venezuelan islands on 04 January 2008.

The pilot reported that both engines failed just before contact was lost with the Czech-made 19-seat LET L-410. At that moment the plane flew on 3000 feet (914 meters) high.

The plane was flying to the Los Roques archipelago from Caracas but reported engine trouble and never arrived at its destination, an air rescue worker said. Civil protection said the plane, operated by Venezuela-based airline Transaven, fell into the sea about 24 miles from Los Roques on Friday morning. Air rescue and civil protection officials are still searching for the twin-engine aircraft. Rain and strong waves have “made the search for the plane more difficult,” General Antonio Rivero, who heads Venezuela’s civil protection agency, said.

Venezuela map

A spokesman at the Italian Foreign Ministry said eight of the people on board the plane were Italians. He gave no further details.


Los RoquesLos Roques is a group of 350 islands in the Caribbean North from Venezuela. It’s a beutiful, exotic tourist paradise with white sand and multicolor water bays. There are 3 airlines carrying passengers to the islands, Transaven is one of them. Their website says it is under construction, so there is now way to learn more about their fleet or safety standards. Apparently the old LET-410s is the only plane they have. I wrote an email to them with questions, I hope they will answer.

Transaven LET-410Development of the L-410 was started in the 1960s by the Czechoslovakian aircraft manufacturer Let Kunovice. The Soviet airline “Aeroflot” was looking for a turbine-powered replacement for the Antonov An-2 aircraft, initiating the design development by Let. After preliminary studies of an aircraft called the L-400, a new version was introduced called the L-410 Turbolet. The first prototype, designated XL-410, flew on April 16, 1969.

The problem with such airlines is that they are the only ones flying to such tourist places and even though they have basically no maintenance or safety standard, one must take the risk to get there. My recommendation is that if you are about to get to Los Roques any way, rather fly to the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire or Curacao) by KLM and from there you can easily get to Los Roques by motor boats or any way on water.

Although chances are low, let’s hope they are still alive.

By Szafi

21 Responses to “14 missing After Transaven LET L-410 Crash In Venezuela”

  1. 1 Simon Yu January 6, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Oh my gosh.. Terrible accident.. also mysterious…

  2. 2 carola Perez January 6, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    For info en the accident, log on http://www.rescate.com (in spanish), and the rescue efforts are outlined, including conditions on the area.

  3. 3 szafi January 6, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Hello Carola,

    thanks for the info!

  4. 4 natasa January 8, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    we took the same flight with Transaven a year ago, from Isla Margarita. It was a horrible flight, the pilot was all the time (about one hour flight) opening the window, smoking, reading a newspaper. the plane had no separated pilot`s cabin. it looked more like a flying bus. Los Roques is absolutely one of the most beautiful destinations you can get there, but it is also ok if you survive after all.
    we`ve been pretty much sure we go back once. now we are not so sure anymore. also the agencies that are selling not so cheap flights to these islands should take some responsibility. we booked the flight with Neckermann.

  5. 5 Mauro January 8, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    thanks for your help!!!
    two of the 14 missing are friend of mine. i’m Italian.
    i can’t believe that there are organization, like tour operator that sell products like these, in which common people pays a lot of money for a holidays, where they are supposed to get death flight (for example in Italy Let 410s cannot fly).
    i affirm that our government must prevent these accident, pubblishing laws that forbidden our national tour operator or internal organization from selling people “black list” flight tickets. for me this means “…to prevent…” and this means to perform “safety”. Hoping to find alive all the passengers and my friends. thanks one more time.

  6. 6 szafi January 9, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Hello Natasa,
    thanks for sharing this information with us. I am almost sure there are ships, motor boats, yachts or similar cruises to Los Roques from either Caracas or the ABC islands. For example here is this other company I found on the website of Los Roques. It is called Aereotuy and apparently besides their shitty old plane (sorry about it) they apparently offer boat trips as well.
    But I will search for other companies later today. I recommend you to take one of these once you’ll return.

  7. 7 szafi January 9, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Hello Mauro,

    I am sorry to hear that you have friends missing. Do you have any information about them? Do their families receive any information from the airline? I think it is incredible that there is nothing about the situation on their website. But from what Natasa wrote before your comment, I do not wonder this was the last thing they cared about.
    It is a shame that they received certificate for flying at all. I absolutely agree with you about the black list. You actually gave me an idea. We will start a new page here on the blog and we will ask everybody who had bad experience with a flight to write to us about it and these airlines will get on this Airline Wirld blacklist. Maybe it will help other people avoid such accidents.
    Thank you for writing us!

  8. 8 Laura January 10, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    He trabajado en turismo por 20 anos y he tenido un agencia de viaje ( ahora cerrada)y realmente en estos momentos venir a Venezuela no es lo mas recomendable bajo cualquier punto de vista. Soy Italiana y amo este Pais pero lamentablemente hay demasiadas fallas y muy pocos valores morales …….el decaimiento de este pais ha sido progresivo sobretodo en los ultimos anos y hemos llegado a la triste cantidad de casi 37 muertos diarios(sin que nadie pestanee)convirtiendo este Pais en uno de los mas inseguros del mundo, donde la vida no vale nada. He sido adicta a Los Roques por mucho tiempo y todas las veces que me tenia que montar en esos avioncitos, le rezaba a la virgen 20 avemaria……pero a parte eso, la alternativa mas directa ( SI NO QUIERES EN AVION)para llegarle es alquilando un velero desde el mismo puerto de La Guaira o tramite agencia de viajes y llegandole por mar con una navegacion de aproximadamente 12 horas a traves de Carenero……no se cuantas millas nauticas
    Lamento decirles que segun mi experiencia y debido a la gran ineptitud que desborda en este Pais, quien sabe lo que paso,pero Secuestro es una palabra muy Grande para la ineficiencia que hay aqui y rezo Dios que hayan podido llegar a la barrera coralina y que halli alguien los encuentre y pueda socorrerlos a tiempo

  9. 9 szafi January 11, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Hello Laura, thanks for the comment. I tried to translate it to English for the others:

    I have worked in tourism for 20 years and I have had a travel agency (now closed) and really in these moments it is not advisable to come to Venezuela by any means. I am Italian and I love this Country but regrettably there are too many flaws and there’s very few moral discipline. The decline of this country has been in progress overall in the past years and we have arrived to the sad quantity of almost 37 deaths daily (without nobody punished) transforming this country into one of those insecure of the world, where life is not worth a thing. I have been addicted to Los Roques for a lot of time and whenever I flew those planes, I prayed to the virgin 20 Ave Marias … But apart from that the alternative direction (if you don’t want to fly those planes) to arrive there is renting a sailing ship from the port of La Guaira or from a travel agency. Arriving there on the sea with a sailing ship takes approximately 12 hours through Carenero … I don’t know exactly how many nautical miles.

    It is hard to tell according to my experience and due to the great incompetence that overflows in this country, what happened. I just hope and pray that they either arrive at the islands or somebody will find them in time and can help them.

  10. 10 Gelbert January 15, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    I just wonder why are there so may crashes in latin america and africa? And it seems to me that it really does not matter what airplane they operate – american, canadian or chinese. There are so many crashes in latin america every month !!! of all aircraft makes and models so I just wonder whay is happening? Is it a bad maintenance, piloting skills or something else? Take for example the airbus crash in Brazil when the pilot forgot to do something he was supposed to do while landing the aircraft. The result – over 150 dead including the pilots.
    As for these czech planes as i know all of them are flying in latin america without any flight recorders installed on them and local aviation authorities do nothing about it. The planes have insurance on them which in case of a crash brings much more money than anything else. I think all these crashed should be carefully investigated. I just do not know what to think. I just pray and hope that we will be able to stop all this from happening in latin america in the future.

  11. 11 szafi January 16, 2008 at 7:52 am

    Hello Gelbert,

    yes, that is right. It is absolutely the authorities to be blamed. Due to low quality standards and no monitoring, the carriers are basically allowed to do whatever they want to. And if they can avoid maintenance, they try to do so, because it is a huge cost. If you have a car, you might have experienced it yourself. It is expensive to take it every year to a maintenance check, it is much easier to take it to the service if it has some proeblem. But in case of a plane it is a dangerous and risky game to play. Simply this is what is happening.
    In Europe, North-America and some parts of Asia (not everywhere) the regulations are tough and every plane operator is responsible for the maintenance of its aircraft. It is clear. If people die due to the lack of maintenance, they go to jail. Zjis is what is needed in Africa and South-America as well.

  12. 12 Exterminator January 18, 2008 at 5:12 am

    What I bring to this forum is not good news.

    The SAR helicopters were, and still are, in the colombian border in a FARC hostage “rescue” operation that is nothing more than a publicity show for the government.

    Only after 4 hours of the accident a few units were launched by the government while private airplanes and choppers had been searching the suspected area where the plane had gone down.

    A signal from the cel phone the co-pilot had, was picked up by a cel antenna at the island, at 6:00 pm of the same day the plane went down.

    Last friday two bodies were seen drifting near the coast of Falcon State, west of the island. Nobody went to pick them up. On Sunday one of the bodies landed on the beach, and it was later identified as the copilot of the downed plane. The other male body, possibly the captain, never beached, and nobody is looking for him.

    There is a forum where pilots, mechanics, and the general public have posted their impression of the accident, the link at the bottom of this note, and the most important issues that came to light are:
    – The plane was a cargo plane converted to passengers, and lacked emergency exits.
    – Passengers that board those planes in SVMI are never briefed as to the location of exits, or the use or location of life vests. Actually they are in a pocked under the seat, but “one has to go deep to find it”….
    – There is an issue in SVMI where fuel is stolen from parked airplanes. it is not known whether the gauges were working in the downed plane, but as the crew lost both engines and reported the emergency, they included in the report that they thought they had 2 hours fuel….
    – The copilot’s exit door had been riveted with ‘soft” rivets that would “allow exit after a couple good kicks”
    – These airplanes normally have a raft and emergency kits, but they are held in the cargo compartment, usually UNDER the baggage.
    – It’s been reported that there were four “last minute ” passengers that boarded the plane, who were not in the passenger list, bringing the total to 18 passengers and two pilots.
    – The owners of the airline have several law suits due to poor maintenance, adulterated logs, several crashes where over 20 people have lost their lives, and ever having an engine with adulterated serial numbers… a very close relative to the owners is the head of airline security at the venezuelan department of transportation….
    – The radar in SVMI has not worked for the last two years, even though they pretend it is, so there are no radar traces as to the actual location of the A/C.

    Here is the link to the forum, it is in spanish but other languages are welcome as your posts will be translated, and the responses back as well.


  13. 13 szafi January 19, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Exterminator: thank for the very long, detailed comment.
    Do you know anything about it if the airline has more aircrafts and if they still operate?

  14. 14 cesar January 20, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Stay home watching tv .

  15. 15 Ana January 24, 2008 at 4:17 am

    Szafi, I know your question was for Exterminator but forgive me for taking the liberty of answering your concern.

    Transaven is still using the same planes but they are now under the name Chapi Air (they ”erased” it). The crazy thing is everybody knows this and they dont do anything about it. I think it might be because the one in charge of the investigations is the SISTER of the owner of Transaven.
    Go figure…

  16. 16 Pete January 24, 2008 at 1:43 pm


    L410 is damn good plane, even during design was counted with poor level of maitenance in USSR, but everything has some limits. Usually those planes in Africa and South America come from Soviet military or Aeroflot surpluses with unknown operating hours, then it is somehow fixed with unauthorised repair shop and put into the service. Actually this plane was originaly made in 1987 for Soviet Air Force, then in AP Airlines in Lithuania LY-AVX, from here was in 2000 sold to company Aero Ferinco in Mexico(XA-ABK)a lately in 2003 to Venezuela.

  17. 17 szafi January 24, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Ana: thanks for the information. That itself is worth a story in the newspapers, I think.

  18. 18 accident compensation claim February 6, 2008 at 7:16 am

    I like the way you write ..Its really different and interesting … keep the momentum going ..
    brilliant. .

  19. 19 szafi February 15, 2008 at 6:16 am

    Oh, look at this. Another one! Luckily no one got injured, but it’s crazy.

  20. 20 szafi February 20, 2008 at 9:30 am


    again an accident in Venezuela.

  21. 21 balint01 February 25, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    And one more with all 46 on board declared dead… This was an ATR-42 turboprop, operated by Santa Barbara Airlines, 10 minutes after take-off.



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