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    Pilots Begged Controllers for Emergency Landing

    © Jaime Saldarriaga / Reuters

    The aircraft carrying a Brazilian football team that crashed Monday night after apparently running out of fuel begged Colombian air-traffic controllers for clearance to land, but were denied permission as a second plane was already engaged in an emergency landing, according to an extraordinary audio exchange between the co-pilot of a third flight who overheard the desperate final messages. The doomed LaMia plane was not able to land as a plane from passenger airline VivaColombia, which had also run into difficulties, was already making its descent. In a leaked audio message, a co-pilot from a third plane, operated by airline Avianca, can be heard retelling the story as he witnessed it from the cockpit of his aircraft. The crew overheard an exchange between the doomed LaMia plane and the airport’s control tower. The pilot on the doomed plane reportedly told the air-traffic control tower: “We request priority to proceed to the runway, we request priority to proceed to the locator. We have fuel problems... Now we have a total electric failure, we have a total electric failure… Help—we need vectors to approach the runway.” The pilots in the LaMia plane made one final plea before falling silent. Avianca officials have confirmed the authenticity of the recording but have declined to comment further. The plane’s black-box flight recorder has been recovered in perfect condition, authorities said.