In a Horrific Twist In Fate Crossair Unable To Celebrate
25 Years Of Fatality-Free Operations As 7 Perished In A Crashed Near Niederhasli,
Zurich Airport, January 10, 2000 - All the occupants of a Crossair Saab 340B- the crew of three and seven passengers perished when the aircraft crashed near Niederhasli (ZH). The aircraft crashed, shortly after takeoff, at 18:05 on Monday evening. Crossair Flight No. LX 498 took off from Zurich Airport at 17:55 and was scheduled to land in Dresden about 90 minutes later.
A few minutes after take-off, the aircraft - HB-AKK- disappeared from the radar screens. According to information supplied by Swisscontrol, weather conditions at the time were good and there was no indication of any problems given by the crew.
Hans Baltensperger of the Zurich Cantonal Police reported the aircraft impacted in a field some 500 metres from a residential area in Niederhasli, a village near Zurich Airport. The flight's Captain was a native of Moldova and had accumulated some 8500 flights hours. The seven passengers on flight 498 were Steffen Braun, born in 1963, from Germany; Klaus Friedrich, 1951, Germany; Matthias Morche, 1977, Germany; Peter Schmidt, 1968, Germany; Pascal Rol, 1956, France; and Heinz Höfler, 1938, Switzerland. The name of the seventh victim, a Spanish national, has not been released as the next of kin have yet to be notified. The cockpit crew members of flight 498 were Pavel Gruzin, a Moldovan, who piloted the aircraft, and Ratislav Kolesar, a Slovakian, who was the co-pilot. The sole flight attendant was Severine Jabrin, a French national.
Radar contact with Crossair aircraft lost after two minutes, Crossair Saab 340B was airborne two minutes before radar contact was lost. According to Andreas Heiter, head of Swisscontrol's Zurich office, Crossair flight 498 departed Zurich en route to Dresden at 17:54:40. Takeoff was from Zurich Airport's runway 28, heading west. Radar contact was lost at 17:56:36. The last contact with the pilot was recorded some 30 seconds earlier. After this last radio message the aircraft executed a turn to the right although the normal flight path would have taken flight 498 in the opposite direction, to the left.
The reasons for this manoeuvre, and for the accident itself, remain unknown at this time. The impact site is some four miles (seven kilometres) from the point of takeoff, near the village of Niederhasli. This aircraft was in the Crossair fleet since 1990, having accumulated 21 600 flight hours and 20 587 takeoff and landing cycles. The pilots were both highly experienced and had completed examinations at Crossair that correspond to Swiss standards. The Captain had accumulated 8100 hours of flight duty time, including 1100 on the Saab 340. The co-pilot had some 1800 flight hours, 1100 on the Saab 340. Some 80 per cent of Crossair's 857 pilots are Swiss nationals. Crossair operated 15 Saab 340B aircraft. Some 400 Saab 340B have been in service world-wide since 1984. The Crossair aircraft was constructed in 1990 and had accumulated 24 000 flight hours.For Crossair, this accident comes at a bad time as Crossair had been preparing to celebrate 25 years of fatality-free operations on February 14, 2000.
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