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Pilots fined for crashing commercial jet

Two Swiss pilots accused of endangering the lives of nearly 200 passengers and crew received heavy fines for almost crashing a jet in Kosovo in 2004.

This content was published on June 8, 2009 - 21:57

The Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona gave the two pilots from Helvetic Airways fines equivalent to 90 and 60 days worth of pay, or SFr15,750 ($14,414) and SFr12,000, respectively. The judge suspended the sentences but ordered them to pay court costs totaling SFr18,148.

On October 21, 2004, the pilots, aged 34 and 39, were on approach into Pristina airport in heavy fog with 165 passengers aboard. The pilot gave control of the DC9-83 to the co-pilot, who brought the plane in at an incorrect angle.

The pilot seized control of the plane much too late, the court ruled, resulting in the plane's wing hitting the ground, breaking, and scattering some debris across the runway. Passengers were shaken but otherwise unhurt.

A German-owned airliner ready for take off with 28 people on board was sitting on the runway at the time. A lawyer for the pilots conceeded that the men had not followed all landing procedures but that there had been no risk of the two planes colliding.

The court found the pilots guilty of disrupting public transportation.

swissinfo.ch with agencies

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