2018 Ju-Air Junkers Ju 52 crash
HB-HOT, the Ju 52 involved in the accident, photographed in 2009
|Date||4 August 2018|
|Site||Piz Segnas mountain, Glarus Alps, Switzerland |
|Aircraft type||Junkers Ju 52/3mg4e|
|Flight origin||Locarno Airport|
|Destination||Dübendorf Air Base|
It was the first fatal crash of a Ju-Air aircraft since the company began operations in 1982. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
The aircraft was flying from Locarno Airport to Dübendorf Air Base, on the return leg of a two-day trip. The weather was unseasonably warm with choppy winds. At 16:56 local time on 4 August (14:56 UTC), the Junkers crashed into Piz Segnas mountain, at an elevation of 2,540 metres (8,330 ft).
Swiss authorities stated that the plane appeared to have crashed almost vertically and at high speed. A witness at nearby Segnas Pass saw the Junkers approaching from the south and fly by the Martinsloch, a distinctive 18-metre-wide (60 ft) breakthrough, or hole, in the Tschingelhörner mountain ridge, next to the pass. Then, instead of flying over the ridge, the aircraft made a sharp turn, dived vertically and crashed onto the plateau below. Around 10 minutes before the crash, another witness had observed the Ju 52 suddenly banking sharply to the left and losing altitude, before increasing engine power and recovering to normal flight.
Aircraft and crew
The aircraft involved was a tri-motor Junkers Ju 52/3mg4e, registration HB-HOT, msn 6595. It had served with the Swiss Air Force from 1939 to 1985, when it was acquired by Ju-Air, a company that offers sightseeing flights on vintage aircraft, and had logged 10,000 hours of flight time. It had been used in the films Where Eagles Dare (1968), and Valkyrie (2008) and the 2012 German movie Bis zum Horizont, dann links!. The aircraft had been issued with a certificate of airworthiness by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) on 6 April 2018, valid for two years.
On the day of the crash, the Junkers was piloted by two veteran captains, aged 62 and 63. Both had extensive experience as pilots for Swissair, Swiss and Edelweiss, as well as more than 30 years of militia service with the Swiss Air Force. Both also had several hundred flight hours' worth of experience with the Ju 52. The third crew member was a 66-year-old flight attendant, also with 40 years of professional experience.
Hiking routes and the local airspace were closed off for the duration of the recovery operation, which involved five helicopters.
Following a review in March 2019, while the accident investigation was still ongoing, the FOCA banned Ju-Air from conducting commercial passenger flights with Ju 52s, allowing only private flights for club members. It was deemed that historical aircraft such as the Ju 52 no longer meet current safety requirements for commercial passenger transport.
The accident is being investigated jointly by the Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board (STSB) and the cantonal police of Grisons on behalf of the federal and cantonal prosecutors' offices.
A spokesperson for the STSB said that the Junkers "fell like a stone to the ground", and that the heatwave in Europe could have been a factor in the crash, as heat reduces an aircraft's climb performance. The police indicated that no distress signal was received from the aircraft prior to the crash. Investigators ruled out a collision with a cable or another aircraft, and said that there was no indication of foul play or the aircraft losing parts before the crash. The aircraft was not fitted with any flight recorders. Investigators are hoping to find some relevant information from passengers' personal photographic and video recordings during the sightseeing flight. The STSB issued its preliminary report on 15 August 2018. An intermediate report was issued on 20 November 2018, citing anterior corrosion marks and cracks, not related to the accident, which effectively grounded the two remaining Ju-52 of Ju-Air (HB-HOP and HB-HOS) until further investigation of these airframe and engine issues.
- Die Wetterstation liegt in etwa 2500 m Höhe am Crap Masegn.
- Hradecky, Simon (4 August 2018). "Crash: Ju-Air JU52 at Piz Segnas on Aug 4th 2018, impacted terrain". The Aviation Herald. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
- "HB-HOT Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
- Vorbericht der Schweizerischen Sicherheitsuntersuchungsstelle SUST
- Fröhlich, Cedric (6 August 2018). "-Hüttenwart sah Absturz: "Es hat keine 15 Sekunden gedauert"". Der Bund. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
Sie fliegt Richtung Norden. Am Martinsloch vorbei. Anstatt über den Grat zu fliegen, geht das Flugzeug in eine scharfe Kurve. Felder rennt nach draussen. Die Ju 52 kippt unvermittelt in den Sturzflug. Ein dumpfer Einschlag. Das Flugzeug prallt senkrecht auf dem Hochplateau unter dem Martinsloch auf. «Als hätte man ein Lot aufgestellt», sagt Feldner. Anflug, Kurve, Absturz. «Es hat keine 15 Sekunden gedauert.»
- "Vintage plane crashes in Swiss Alps, killing all 20 on board". USA Today. Associated Press. 5 August 2018. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
- "Vingt morts dans l'accident d'un avion militaire de collection suisse" [Twenty dead in the crash of a Swiss military aircraft] (in French). La Croix. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
- "Flugzeug mit 20 Personen beim Piz Segnas abgestürzt" [Plane with 20 people crashed at Piz Segnas] (in German). Blick. 4 August 2018. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
- Hughes Neghaiwi, Brenna (4 August 2018). "Second plane crashes in Swiss Alps on Saturday". Reuters. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
- “Where Eagles Dare film locations“, 2018
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- Neghaiwi, Brenna Hughes. "Swiss airline to resume flights two weeks after deadly crash". U.S. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
- "Swiss vintage planes resume flights after crash". Retrieved 21 August 2018.
- Kaminski-Morrow, David (12 March 2019). "Swiss regulators have banned Junkers Ju 52 operator Ju-Air from conducting commercial passenger flights with the fleet, although it will be permitted to offer private flights for club members". FlightGlobal. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
- "'Sie ist wie ein Stein zu Boden gestürzt'" ['It fell like a stone to the ground'] (in German). Spiegel. 5 August 2018. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
- "Heat wave could be behind Swiss crash of vintage plane that killed 20 in the Alps". KIRO7 Seattle. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
- "Ju 52 Crash: Mögliche Videos der Passagiere als "Blackbox-Ersatz"" [Ju 52 crash: possible videos of passengers as a "black box replacement"]. Austrian Wings (in German). 9 August 2018. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
- "(untitled)" (PDF) (in German). Schweizerische Sicherheitsuntersuchungsstelle. 15 August 2018. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
- "Zwischenbericht der SUST über den Unfall des Verkehrsflugzeuges Junkers Ju 52/3m g4e, HB-HOT" (PDF) (in German). Schweizerische Sicherheitsuntersuchungsstelle. 20 November 2018. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
- Media related to HB-HOT (aircraft) at Wikimedia Commons