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Recorders reveal Crossair flight’s last moments

The flight recorders showed no indication of a major technical problem Keystone

Flight recorders from the Crossair jet that crashed near Zurich, killing 24 people, have showed the pilots were aborting their landing attempt.

Investigators said on Friday that the pilots were planning to abandon their landing approach shortly before the crash. According to the cockpit voice recorder, the captain and commander of the aircraft, Hans Lutz, told air traffic controllers he would try a so-called “go around”.

Following a post mortem examination no traces of alcohol or drugs were found in the pilot’s bloodstream. Lutz was one of Crossair’s most experienced pilots, but he had recently switched to flying the model of aircraft involved in the crash.

Nine people survived the tragedy of flight LX3597 last Saturday evening. One survivor remains in a critical condition. The Jumbolino Avro RJ-100 from Berlin to Zurich, carrying five crew and 28 passengers, crashed in woodland just short of the runway.

Marc Brunner, a member of the investigation team, told swissinfo that the recorders revealed no evidence of a major technical problem on board the aircraft, such as engine failure.

“The crew were very, very professional. They were not under stress when they said ‘go around’,” he said, indicating that the pilots were aborting the landing. “So it doesn’t look as if they really had a major technical problem, because if they had they surely would have reacted.”

Automatic pilot

The aircraft’s voice recorders also picked up an acoustic signal indicating that the automatic pilot was being switched off. But Brunner said it was impossible to say at this stage of the inquiry whether it was switched off by the crew or the force of the impact.

Officials have refused to speculate on the cause of the tragedy, but visibility was poor, with rain and some snow. Initial reports indicated that the pilot was flying too low.

In response to the crash, Crossair has issued new conditions for landing on runway 28, which include a minimum of five kilometres visibility and a cloud level above 500 metres.

Crossair, a subsidiary of the ailing Swissair Group, is taking over parts of the Swissair operations in April 2002. A government-financed SFr1.45 billion bailout will keep Swissair planes flying until the takeover date.

The crash was the second in as many years for Crossair. A Saab340 headed to the German city of Dresden crashed shortly after takeoff from Zurich on Jan. 10, 2000, killing all 10 people on board.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR