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Junkers Ju 52 Crash

Wednesday 8 August 2018

GENEVA (Wikipedia) — On 4 August 2018, a Junkers Ju 52 passenger aircraft operated by Ju-Air crashed near Piz Segnas, Switzerland, while en route from Locarno to Dübendorf. All 20 people on board were killed.

Ju-52 Crashed
Wreck of HB-HOT, a Junkers 52 plane that crashed near Piz Segnas (Switzerland) on August 4th, 2018, causing the death of 20 people.

The aircraft was carrying three crew and seventeen passengers, all of them Swiss apart from an Austrian couple and their son. Nine of the people aboard were women and eleven were men. Swiss authorities confirmed an hour later that there were no survivors. The weather was unseasonably warm with choppy winds at the time of the crash.

The aircraft was flying from Locarno Airport to Dübendorf Air Base, on the return leg of a two-day trip. At 16:50 local time on 4 August (14:50 UTC), it crashed into Piz Segnas mountain, at an elevation of 2,540 metres.

Swiss authorities said at a press conference on 5 August 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 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 descending, before increasing engine power and recovering to normal flight.

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). The aircraft had been issued with a certificate of airworthiness by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation on 6 April 2018, valid for two years.

It was the first fatal crash to involve a Ju-Air aircraft since the company began operation in 1982. In response to the accident, Ju-Air announced that it had suspended all flights by its other Ju 52 aircraft. However, it subsequently stated that flights would be resumed on 17 August.

Investigations
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 “it fell like a stone to the ground”, and that the heat wave 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. A collision with a cable, or another aircraft, was ruled out. Due to its age (almost 80 years old), the aircraft was not required to be fitted with a cockpit voice recorder or a flight data recorder and was not so equipped.

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