Crossair Flight 3597

Crossair Flight 3597
Crossair Flight 3597

An Avro RJ100 similar to the aircraft involved
Accident summary
Date 24 November 2001 (2001-11-24)
Type Controlled flight into terrain, Pilot error, Lack of pilot training and crew experience
Site Bassersdorf, Switzerland
47°27′14″N 8°37′34″E / 47.45389°N 8.62611°E / 47.45389; 8.62611Coordinates: 47°27′14″N 8°37′34″E / 47.45389°N 8.62611°E / 47.45389; 8.62611
Passengers 28
Crew 5
Injuries 9
Fatalities 24
Survivors 9
Aircraft type Avro RJ100
Operator Crossair
Tail number HB-IXM
Flight origin Berlin Tegel Airport, Germany
Destination Zurich Airport, Switzerland

Crossair Flight LX 3597 was an Avro RJ100 regional airliner, registration HB-IXM, on a scheduled flight from Berlin, Germany to Zurich, Switzerland that crashed during its approach to land at Zurich Airport on 24 November 2001. Twenty-four of the thirty-three people on board were killed.[1]



The flight departed Berlin Tegel Airport at 21:01 CET with 28 passengers, 3 flight attendants, and a two-man cockpit crew consisting of Captain Hans Ulrich Lutz and First Officer Stefan Lehrer. Upon arrival in Zurich about an hour later, it was cleared to approach runway 28 in poor visibility conditions due to low clouds; the cockpit voice recorder captured the transmission of a previously-landing Crossair flight informing the tower that they could not see the runway until 1.3 miles (2.1 km) away. At 22:07 CET, the plane crashed into a wooded range of hills near the small town of Bassersdorf, around 4 km (2.5 miles) short of the runway, where it broke apart and went up in flames. Of the 33 people on board (28 passengers and 5 crew), 24 died (among them the cockpit crew and one flight attendant), while nine (seven passengers and two flight attendants) survived.

Notable passengers

  • The lead singer of the Eurodance group La Bouche, Melanie Thornton, was one of those killed in the crash.
  • The German pop group Passion Fruit was aboard flight 3597; two of the singers died, while the third singer and the band's manager survived with injuries.[2]
  • Peter Hogenkamp, founder and CEO of Swiss commercial blog service company Blogwerk AG, and his wife Jacqueline Badran were originally seated one row behind the trio of Passion Fruit, but moved to the rear of the plane in-flight in order to rest in a more quiet area in the sparcely-populated cabin. One of the portions of the fuselage that broke open as a result of the crash did so almost directly in front of them, and they were able to escape the plane largely unharmed. During an interview for the Canadian Discovery Channel show Mayday (known as Air Emergency in the US, Mayday in Ireland and Air Crash Investigation in the UK and the rest of the world) entitled "Cockpit Failure", Hogenkamp admits that his and his wife's survival were largely due to "luck", but also hypothesized that their original desire for rest drove them to change seats and sides of the plane to get away from the rambunctious behavior of the members of Passion Fruit, "so the Passion Fruits may have saved our lives."[3]


The investigation concluded that the accident was a controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) caused by Captain Hans Ulrich Lutz deliberately descending below the minimum descent altitude (MDA) without having the required visual contact with either the approach lights or the runway;[1] and the copilot making no attempt to prevent the continuation of the flight below the minimum descent altitude. Lutz made an additional error by not monitooring his Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) as he made his approach; the CVR recorded Lutz's running narrative on nearly every move he made in the cockpit, but did not record any readout of the DME after a check, verified by Lehrerr, at 6 miles (9.7 km) from runway 28. Moments before the crash, Lutz's running commentary indicated to investigators that Lutz must have thought he was at or near 1.3 miles (2.1 km) from runway 28 because he expressed frustration that the other crew said they could "see the runway at 1.3 miles (2.1 km)"; instead, Lutz was over 4 miles (6.4 km) from the runway, and could not possibly have seen the runway due to the presence of a hill, below the MDA of 2,400 feet (730 m), that would have obscured his view. It was into this hill that flight 3597 eventually crashed. The report revealed that the pilot had failed to perform correct navigation and landing procedures on previous occasions, but no action had been taken by the airline.[1]

The investigation report states that other factors also contributed to the accident:

  • The range of hills the plane crashed into was not marked in the Jeppesen approach chart used by the crew.[4]
  • Despite the hilly terrain surrounding it, the approach to runway 28 was not equipped with a Minimum Safe Altitude Warning (MSAW) system, which triggers an alarm if a minimum safe altitude is violated.[4]
  • The airport's means of determining visibility were inadequate for runway 28.[4]
  • The visual minimums at the time of the accident were actually inappropriate for using the standard approach to runway 28.[4]


The story of the disaster was featured on the tenth season of Canadian Discovery Channel show Mayday (known as Air Emergency in the US, Mayday in Ireland and Air Crash Investigation in the UK and the rest of the world). The episode is entitled "Cockpit Failure".

See also


External links

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