The crash of Copa Airlines Flight 201 – A cover up?

I was watching the start of the programme on this crash that killed 47 people and thought nothing of it apart from the horror of all of those deaths. Then my interest sparked up.

A Mr Phil Ragan, a former Copa Airlines pilot said “that he had never had a problem with the cockpit voice recorder in his entire career”

That seemed to me to be a strange statement to make. I am unaware of the actual technicalities of a cockpit voice recorder and do not know if there is a light in the cockpit that told the pilots that the CVR didn’t work but, save for that……


The reason that I mention the CVR is because when the CVR was recovered from the crash site, it had not recorded anything. It was a jumble of broken tape which, when repaired, showed that the CVR had actually broken on a previous flight.

If there was a light saying that the CVR was broken, showing in the cockpit, it would have had to be removed and replaced.

The crash was eventually found to be because the captain’s gyro was faulty. There were two gyros, one for the captain’s instruments and one for the co-pilots’s.

Apparently, when this happens, they can switch to whichever gyro is working ‘s fine but the recovered panel said that the captain had switched for both sets of instruments to run off his faulty gyro.

The reconstruction showed the panel; it had three setting. All to the captain gyro, each set of instruments operating off each gyro or all to the co-pilots gyro.

They later established that the simulator had a switch of a different design. Same as before but also a selection to an auxiliary gyro.

The setting for the auxiliary gyro on the simulator was actually in the same position as for switching all instruments to the captain’s gyro. It was thus determined that he had “gone back to his training” and when his gyro was faulty, he switched to what he thought was the auxiliary but:

  • There was no selection for the auxiliary gyro on the panel
  • If the auxiliary gyro did exist, it was never tested

It also begs the question as to why the simulator was different from the actual plane, with regard to the switches.

In my opinion, that was Boeing’s fault. If they had changed the panel in the plane, the simulator should have been changed too.

Of course, the only way to have known was by listening to the cockpit voice recorder, as the captain and co-pilot would have been heard discussing the problem but of course, the investigators could not, as the CVR was “broken”.

  • Given what Phil Ragan had said with regards to the 100% reliability of the CVR
  • Given that the switch panel in the plane was different from that in the simulator
  • Given that the CVR was broken and did not record any of the flight

In my humble opinion, I smell a cover up.

Call me a conspiracy theorist if you wish but the facts seem to speak for themselves and remember; all of those who appeared on the programme, analysts, investigators et all, were being paid for the interviews

All of the Copa fleet was harmonised to have the same instruments and, I assume, identical to the simulator but that was rather too late for the 47 passengers and crew, wasn’t it.

Published by David Hender (copyright owner- all rights reserved)

If you want to know me, you first need to understand where I have been and where I am going

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