Linate Airport disaster
A map of Linate Airport, showing the paths of the two aircraft. The blue line marks the path of the MD-87. The green line marks the path the Cessna was supposed to take, while the red line shows the Cessna's actual movement.
|Date||8 October 2001|
|Total injuries (non-fatal)||4 (all on ground)|
|Total fatalities||118 (including 4 on ground)|
SAS MD-87 SE-DMA Lage Viking in 2000
|Operator||Scandinavian Airlines System|
|Flight origin||Linate Airport
A Cessna Citation CJ2
|Type||Cessna Citation CJ2|
|Flight origin||Linate Airport
|Destination||Le Bourget Airport
The Linate Airport disaster occurred on 8 October 2001 at Linate Airport in Milan, Italy, when Scandinavian Airlines Flight 686, a McDonnell Douglas MD-87 airliner carrying 110 people bound for Copenhagen, Denmark, collided on take-off with a Cessna Citation CJ2 business jet carrying four people bound for Paris, France. All 114 people on both aircraft were killed, as well as four people on the ground.
The Linate Airport disaster is the deadliest air disaster to ever occur in Italian aviation history.
Aircraft and crew
Two aircraft were involved in the collision. The larger of the two aircraft was a McDonnell-Douglas MD-87. The jet was piloted by Captain Joakim Gustafsson (36) and First Officer Anders Hyllander (36). The captain, a highly skilled pilot, was hired by SAS in 1987 and he had more than 5,800 hours of flight experience to his credit. He had logged approximately 230 hours in the aircraft type. The first officer, also an above average pilot, was hired by the airline in 1997. At the time of the accident he had more than 4,300 total flying hours. He was more experienced in the aircraft type than his captain, having logged 2,000 hours in it.
The second aircraft was a Cessna Citation 525-A. There were two German pilots aboard. The captain was 36 years old. He had approximately 5,000 total flight hours, of which roughly 2,400 were accumulated in the aircraft type. The first officer was 64 years old. He had approximately 12,000 flight hours under his belt. He had logged roughly 2,000 hours in the aircraft type. One of the passengers was Luca Fossati, chairman of Star – Stabilimento Alimentare S.p.A. and owner of the Cessna Citation.
The accident occurred in thick fog, with visibility reduced to less than 200 metres (656 ft).
The Cessna Citation was instructed to taxi from the western apron along the northern taxiway (taxiway R5), and then via the northern apron to the main taxiway which runs parallel to the main runway, a route that would have kept it clear of the main runway. Instead, the pilot taxied along the southern taxi route (taxiway R6), crossing the main runway toward the main taxiway which lay beyond it (see diagram).
At 08:09:28, the SAS MD-87 was given clearance by a different controller to take off from runway 36R. Fifty-three seconds later, the SAS aircraft, traveling at about 270 kilometres per hour (150 kn; 170 mph), collided with the Cessna. One of the four in the Cessna was killed on impact; the remaining three were burned alive. The MD-87 lost its right engine; the pilot, Joakim Gustafsson from Sweden, attempted to take off, reaching an altitude of approximately 12 metres (39 ft). The remaining engine lost some thrust due to debris ingestion, and the plane, having lost the starboard landing gear, came down. Gustafsson applied thrust reverser and brakes, and tried to guide the plane through its control surfaces. This was insufficient to halt the jet's momentum, and it crashed into a luggage hangar located near the runway's end, at a speed of approximately 251 kilometres per hour (136 kn; 156 mph). In the impact, all the MD-87's crew and passengers were killed. The crash and subsequent fire killed four Italian ground personnel in the hangar, and injured four more.
Of the occupants of the SAS aircraft, 54 (46%), mainly in the back of the aircraft, suffered severe burns; their bodies were identified using forensic dentistry or DNA records. Those in the front of the aircraft suffered severe blunt trauma.
The accident occurred less than a month after the September 11 attacks and the day after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan began, but SAS was quick to rule out a terrorist attack as the cause. This was subsequently confirmed by the investigations that followed.
The accident was investigated by the Agenzia Nazionale per la Sicurezza del Volo (ANSV), whose efforts were hampered by the actions of Italian police, with investigative pre-eminence under Italian law. They neglected to recover the cockpit voice recorder, and (having refused access for inspection by the ANSV) removed the aircraft debris from the site without regard for the investigative process and its requirements. The ANSV's final report was published on 20 January 2004, and concluded that the "immediate cause" of the accident was the incursion of the Cessna aircraft on to the active runway. However, the ANSV stopped short of placing the blame unequivocally on the Cessna pilots, who had become lost in the fog: its report identified a number of deficiencies in the airport layout and procedures.
Linate Airport was operating without a functioning ground radar system at the time, despite having had a new system delivered some years beforehand. The previous system had been decommissioned, but the replacement had not been fully installed. The new system finally came online a few months later. Guidance signs along the taxiways were obscured or badly worn, and were later found not to meet regulations. After mistakenly turning onto the R6 taxiway that led to the runway, there were no signs by which the Cessna pilots could recognize where they were. When they stopped at a taxiway stop-marking and correctly reported its identifier (S4), the ground controller disregarded this identification because it was not on his maps and was unknown to him. Motion sensing runway incursion alarms, although present, had been deactivated to prevent false alarms from vehicles or animals. The ground controller's verbal directions used terminology to designate aprons, taxiways and runways which did not match the way they were designated and labelled. Lastly, neither pilot of the Cessna was certified for landings with visibility less than 550 metres (1,804 ft), but had landed at the airport anyway a few minutes before the disaster.
On 16 April 2004, a Milan court found four persons guilty for the disaster. Airport director Vincenzo Fusco and air-traffic controller Paolo Zacchetti were both sentenced to eight years in prison. Francesco Federico, former head of the airport, and Sandro Gualano, former head of the air traffic control agency, received sentences of six and a half years. In the appeal trial (7 July 2006), Fusco and Federico were discharged. Another four people were sentenced. The pardon law issued by the Italian Parliament on 29 July 2006 reduced all convictions by three years. On 20 February 2007 the Corte di Cassazione upheld the decision of the Appeal Court.
Victims of the crash included nationals of nine different countries. Most of the victims were Italian and Scandinavian. One passenger listed as a Briton by SAS held United Kingdom and United States citizenships.
Four memorial services were held in honor of the SAS victims. On 12 October 2001 three separate ceremonies were held, with one in Denmark, one in Norway, and one in Sweden. On 13 October 2001 a fourth ceremony was held in Italy.
In March 2002, a forest containing 118 beeches called Bosco dei Faggi was inaugurated as a memorial to the victims in the Forlanini Park near the airport. A sculpture by the Swedish artist Christer Bording donated by SAS, called Infinity Pain, was placed in the centre of the forest.
The disaster devastated the Swedish go-kart community as some of the country's most promising young drivers were on the flight after attending an event in Milan. After the disaster, the Swedish national motorsports club started a memorial fund together with some of the relatives. The fund awards annual stipends to promising Swedish youth in go-kart.
Mayday (also known as Air Crash Investigation in the UK, Australia and Asia, and Air Emergency or Air Disasters in the United States) produced a one hour docudrama about the crash. The episode was entitled "The Invisible Plane" (UK: Zero Visibility).
- The accident at Linate happened under virtually identical circumstances to the Tenerife airport disaster, a 1977 runway collision that claimed the lives of 583 people when two Boeing 747s collided on a runway in heavy fog. The two crashes had several identical contributing factors, including the fact that both happened in thick fog, the airports that the disasters happened at did not have working ground radar for controllers to monitor aircraft, and one aircraft in both accidents had been confused as to where it was located due to fog disorientation.
- USAir Flight 1493, a runway collision at Los Angeles Airport (LAX) that killed 34 people.
- Madrid runway disaster, a runway collision in Spain that took the lives of 93 people.
- Lists of accidents and incidents on commercial airliners
- ANSV final report, section 3.1.2, page 156 (PDF page 174 of 196).
- "ANSV final report, appendix I". ANSV. 20 January 2004. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
- ANSV final report, section 1, page 1 (PDF page 19 of 196)
- ANSV final report, section 1.1.3, page 4 (PDF page 22 of 196).
- ANSV final report, section 1.1.3, page 6 (PDF page 24 of 196).
- ANSV final report, section 1.1.3, page 5 (PDF page 23 of 196).
- ANSV final report, section 1.1.3, page 6-7 (PDF pages 24–25 of 196).
- Schmitt, Aurore, Eugenia Cunha, and João Pinheiro. Forensic Anthropology And Medicine. Humana Press. 440
- Jets collide on Milan runway; 118 killed, USA Today.
- Scores die in runway blaze, BBC.
- Broken radar was factor in Italian crash, BBC.
- SAS backs Linate over safety, CNN.
- Final accident report – Agenzia Nazionale per la Sicurezza del Volo.
- Italian Report on the disaster (Italian).
- "Passenger and Crew List Scandinavian Airlines Flight SK 686." Scandinavian Airlines. 8 October 2001. Retrieved on 12 May 2010.
- "SK686 Update: Nationality Distribution." Scandinavian Airlines. 10 October 2001. Retrieved on 12 May 2010.
- "British plane crash victims named." BBC. Wednesday 10 October 2001. Retrieved on 20 January 2010.
- "Memorial Service for the casualties in Milan." Scandinavian Airlines. 11 October 2001. Retrieved on 12 May 2010.
- Home page. Anecto Racing. Retrieved on 9 February 2009.
- ANSV final report: "Accident Boeing MD-87 SE-DMA Cessna 525-A D-IEVX Milano Linate airport October 8, 2001". Agenzia Nazionale per la Sicurezza del Volo. 20 January 2004. A-1-04. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
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Agenzia Nazionale per la Sicurezza del Volo
- Milano Linate, ground collision between Boeing MD-87, registration SE-DMA and Cessna 525-A, registration D-IEVX
- Milano Linate, collisione a terra tra Boeing MD-87, marche SE-DMA e Cessna 525-A, marche D-IEVX (Archive) (Italian)
- CVR Transcript
- Regarding Scandinavian Airlines flight SK 686 (1)
- Regarding Scandinavian Airlines flight SK 686 (2)
- Statement on Accident SK 686 Routed Milan – Copenhagen (3)
- Information about SK 686 Milan – Copenhagen Accident (4)
- Passenger and Crew List Scandinavian Airlines Flight SK 686 (5)
- Press Conference regarding flight SK 686 (6)
- Information about SK 686 Milan – Copenhagen Accident (7)
- SK686 Update: Nationality Distribution (8)
- Memorial Service for the casualties in Milan (9)
- Scandinavian Association for SK686, 8th of October 2001
- Skandinavisk förening för SK686, 8 oktober 2001 (Swedish)
- Committee and Foundation 8 October 2001
- Comitato 8 Ottobre per non dimenticare (Italian)
- Accident description for Scandinavian Airlines Flight 686 at the Aviation Safety Network
- Accident description for Cessna 525A at the Aviation Safety Network
- Looking back at Linate
- Italian TV report about the Linate Airport disaster (Italian), Rai Due
- Photographs of the accident