Crossair managers face trial over Avro RJ crash

The trial of six former managers of Crossair charged with negligent homicide and bodily injury caused by negligence in connection with the crash of Avro RJ100 HB-IXM (msn E3291) on 24 November 2001 is due to begin on 5 May. The RJ100 crashed near Bassersdorf, Switzerland, while approaching runway 28 at Zürich airport in poor weather. 21 passengers and three crew members lost their lives in the accident, and 7 passengers and 2 crew members survived. The crash report identified the main cause of the accident as the commander’s decision to descend below the minimum descent altitude (MDA) of the standard VOR/DME approach to runway 28 without having the required visual contact to the approach lights or the runway, along with the copilot’s failure to prevent him from doing so. Crossair itself was severely criticized in the report: the airline’s failure to correctly assess and respond to problems in the commander’s flying performance were identified as a contributing factor to the accident. Those charged include Crossair’s founder, Moritz Suter, its head at the time, André Dosé, the operations manager, a human resources manager, the chief pilot, and the RJ100 fleet chief. Prosecutors allege that they created a “culture of fear” at the airline, pressing flight crew to ignore regulations so as to reduce costs. The charges carry a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment or a fine. The trial is expected to last about two weeks.

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