Swiss Air Controllers Accept Errors in 2002 Crash

Wed May 19, 2004 07:31 AM ET
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ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss air traffic control firm Skyguide said Wednesday it accepted full responsibility for errors which helped cause the mid-air collision of two planes in 2002 in which dozens of Russian school children died.

Skyguide said it was dismayed by weaknesses in its systems partially blamed for the crash. The disaster killed 71 people and provoked a bereaved Russian to avenge his family's deaths by killing one of the controllers on duty when the planes collided.

The firm was commenting on a report by German investigators which detailed how a DHL cargo jet and a Russian charter to Spain collided above the German town of Ueberlingen in July 2002.

"Skyguide accepts full responsibility for its errors and extends its sincere apologies to the relatives of the 71 individuals who lost their lives," the firm said in a statement.

"The report reveals that weaknesses in Swiss air navigation services were partly responsible for the accident. Skyguide is dismayed that its safety system... failed on the night of this tragic accident," it said.

Skyguide said it had faith in its management and added it had already or was in the process of adopting the safety recommendations contained in the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau's report.

Of 19 recommendations made in the report, 10 applied to Skyguide, the firm said.

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