Avianca Flight 203

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Avianca Flight 203
Avianca Boeing 727-200 Volpati.jpg
An Avianca Boeing 727-100 similar to the one involved.
Date November 27, 1989
Summary Bombing
Site Cerro Canoas, Soacha, Colombia
4°33′30″N 74°15′45″W / 4.55833°N 74.26250°W / 4.55833; -74.26250Coordinates: 4°33′30″N 74°15′45″W / 4.55833°N 74.26250°W / 4.55833; -74.26250
Aircraft type Boeing 727-21
Operator Avianca
Registration HK-1803
Flight origin El Dorado Int'l Airport
Destination Alfonso Bonilla Aragón Int'l Airport
Passengers 101
Crew 6
Fatalities 110 (including 3 on ground)
Survivors 0

Avianca Flight 203 was a Colombian domestic passenger flight from El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá to Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport in Cali. It was destroyed by a bomb over the municipality of Soacha on November 27, 1989.[1]

The aircraft took off from the Colombian capital Bogotá en route to Cali. It was in the air for five minutes and flying at a speed of 794 kilometres per hour (493 mph) when an explosive charge detonated on board, igniting fuel vapors in an empty fuel tank.


The aircraft was a Boeing 727-21 with registration number HK-1803, purchased from Pan Am. It took off as scheduled at 7:13 a.m. Five minutes into the flight, a bomb placed near the fuel tank exploded at 13,000 feet. The blast ripped the airliner apart: The nose section separated from the tail section, which went down in flames. All 107 people on board were killed, as well as three people on the ground who were killed by falling debris.


The bombing of Flight 203 was the deadliest single criminal attack in decades of violence in Colombia. Pablo Escobar of the Medellín drug cartel planned the bombing, hoping it would kill presidential candidate in the 1990 elections César Gaviria Trujillo.[2][3] Gaviria, however, was not on the aircraft and went on to become President of Colombia.[4] Two Americans were among the dead, prompting the Bush Administration to begin Intelligence Support Activity operations to find Escobar.[4]

Dandeny Muñoz Mosquera, the chief assassin for the Medellín Cartel, was convicted of the bombing in a United States District Court and was sentenced to 10 consecutive life sentences.[5]

Later events[edit]

On November 28, 2016, the Colombian newspaper El Espectador started publishing an investigative report, consisting of 8 chapters, on Flight 203.[6] It argues that the explosion was caused by a malfunctioning fuel pump inside a tank, which had been reported several times before.[7] The report was heavily criticized by Avianca and by the family members of the victims.[8]

Popular culture[edit]

In the 2015 Netflix original series, Narcos, the bombing is portrayed as having been carried out unwittingly by a naïve new recruit of Escobar's cartel.


  1. ^ "Vuelo 1803, 20 años después". YouTube. Testigo Directo. Retrieved 8 January 2017. 
  2. ^ Bowden, Mark (2001). Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press. p. 80. ISBN 0-87113-783-6. 
  3. ^ "OBJETIVO: GAVIRIA". Semana. 8 May 1995. Retrieved 8 January 2017. 
  4. ^ a b Bowden 2001, p. 81.
  5. ^ Prendergast, Alan (17 May 2001). "The Hit Man Nobody Knows". Westword. Retrieved 8 January 2017. 
  6. ^ Thomas Hoffman; Pablo Correa; Sergio Silva. "Avianca 203, la historia que nunca nos contaron" (in Spanish). El Espectador. Retrieved 8 January 2017. 
  7. ^ Thomas Hoffman; Pablo Correa; Sergio Silva (December 2, 2016). "Avianca 203, la historia que nunca nos contaron. Capitulo 5: El detalle inconveniente" (in Spanish). El Espectador. Retrieved 8 January 2017. 
  8. ^ "Familiares de fallecidos de avión de Avianca, en 1989, responden a investigación de El Espectador" (in Spanish). El Espectador. Retrieved 3 March 2017. 

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