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Dosé investigated over fatal plane crash

Dosé finds himself in the firing line once again Keystone

The Federal Prosecutor’s Office is to investigate André Dosé, the former head of the national airline, Swiss, over a plane crash two years ago in which 24 people died.

The former director of the Federal Office for Civil Aviation, André Auer, has also been placed under investigation.

The Prosecutor’s Office announced on Friday that it was widening its probe into the fatal crash of a Crossair jet near Zurich airport in November 2001.

It opened a criminal investigation last month into possible negligent homicide and grievous bodily harm by negligence.

Dosé was in charge of the former regional carrier, Crossair, at the time of the crash. Two other senior Crossair executives have also been named as part of the judicial inquiry.

Dosé stepped down as chief executive of Swiss on Wednesday amid intense media speculation that he would be drawn into the inquiry.

Hansjürg Mark Wiedmer, spokesman for the Prosecutor’s Office, said there were indications that Dosé and the others had failed to do their jobs properly.

Dosé on Friday denied any wrongdoing and pledged to prove that he had acted correctly.

“I am convinced that [this investigation] will prove that I bear no blame for the tragic accident in November 2001,” Dosé said in a statement.

Pilot error

The criminal investigation was launched following a report by Switzerland’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau, which blamed the crash on pilot error, but also criticised shortcomings within Crossair.

The plane, which was flying from Berlin to Zurich on the night of November 24, 2001, crashed into woodland just short of the runway, killing 24 of the 33 people on board.

The report confirmed that the pilot of the Jumbolino Avro RJ-100 jet had dropped below the minimum descent altitude, ignoring automatic alarm signals.

It said the 57-year-old pilot of Crossair flight LX 3579 was too tired to concentrate fully or make crucial decisions.

The pilot had been working for more than 13 hours when the crash occurred and had also exceeded maximum duty times in the two days before the accident.

“Over a long period of time, those responsible did not properly assess the pilot’s performance,” said the report. “Adequate measures were not taken to make good the shortcomings.”

This was one of the factors which “played a role in the accident” or “made it possible”.

Safety controls

The report also said the pilot had certain “weaknesses”, which Crossair had overlooked, and he had repeatedly failed exams.

Investigators took issue with the lack of safety controls and substandard pilot training at Crossair, which formed the backbone of the new national carrier, Swiss.

It added that senior managers at the airline should have identified that the pilot was not in a fit state to fly.

Officials said training deficiencies unearthed by the crash investigation were not isolated. “We know of at least 40 similar cases,” the report said.

The Federal Office for Civil Aviation was also singled out for failing to supervise Crossair’s training programme.

Crossair was never subjected to a comprehensive audit by the civil aviation office.

“Systematic surveillance of its operations might have identified the pilot’s shortcomings,” said the report.

swissinfo with agencies

November 24, 2001: A Crossair Jumbolino crashes on the final approach to Zurich airport killing 24 people. Nine passengers survive.

August 29, 2003: André Auer steps down as head of the civil aviation authority.

February 3, 2004: The Swiss Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau publishes its final report into the crash. Pilot error blamed, but Crossair and the Federal Office for Civil Aviation also come in for criticism.

March 1, 2004: Swiss calls on the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau to re-examine the contents of the report.

March 10, 2004: Former Crossair boss André Dosé stands down as chief executive of the national carrier, Swiss.

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