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Back in the air Swiss vintage planes resume flights after crash

A worker prepares a JU-52 vintage plane in Dübendorf, Zurich, on August 17, 2018, ahead of the resumption of operations

A worker prepares a JU-52 vintage plane in Dübendorf, Zurich, on August 17, 2018, ahead of the resumption of operations

(© KEYSTONE / WALTER BIERI)

A local Swiss airline that operates vintage Junkers Ju-52 planes – one of which crashed earlier this month killing 20 people on board – resumed operations on Friday after receiving the greenlight from the aviation authority the day before. 

Two Ju-Air flights were scheduled on Friday as part of the resumption of flights. However, one was cancelled due to a storm; another is due to fly to Germany. The aircraft made a test flight in the morning and was also examined by inspectors from the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA). 

The resumption comes almost two weeks after a fatal accident on August 4 in which a 79-year-old Ju-52 operated by Ju-Air crashed at altitude in eastern Switzerland killing all 20 people on board. The cause remains unclear and may be hard to determine because the veteran plane had no black boxes. 

Following the incident, FOCA said Ju-Air could resume operations on condition that it take several precautionary measures. JU-Air’s two remaining vintage planes must fly above the legally prescribed minimum altitude. They must also have a GPS data recorder on board which shows each flight and enables the flight route to be analysed afterwards. Finally, passengers must wear their seat belts throughout the entire flight and may no longer walk around the plane or visit the cockpit. 

At a press conference in Dübendorf, canton Zurich, on Friday, Ju-Air officials lit 20 candles and held a minute’s silence in memory of those who lost their lives in the crash. 

Ju-Air director Kurt Waldmeier told reporters that around 80% of bookings made prior to the accident had been maintained. 

ATS/SDA/SRF/sb

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