Swiss investigators have determined that the co-pilot of a Cessna Citation V that crashed shortly after take-off from Zurich Kloten airport suffered an apparent “loss of spatial orientation”.

In its final report into the crash of the Eagle Air business jet on 20 December 2001, the Swiss accident investigation bureau says the co-pilot’s lack of night-flying experience, poor weather conditions and excessive pressure on time were contributory factors.

Both pilots were killed when the aircraft crashed on to the runway after climbing to 500-600ft (150-180m). The accident, at 21:07 local time, happened after the departure had been delayed because of bad weather. The report says the pilots were under intense pressure to reach their final destination, Berne Belp, before 21:30. The airport had given special clearance for a late landing in response to a request from Eagle Air.

 The report cites the pilot’s decision to undertake a “rolling” take-off as irregular and “not adapted to the prevailing meteorological conditions”. The take-off included a sudden 10° swerve to the right because, as the aircraft gathered speed, the left (number one) engine was running at 102% power, but number two, on the right, was only at 58%. The crew were only able to keep the Citation on the runway “by making a major nosewheel correction and distinctly reducing the thrust of the left engine”.

The co-pilot’s basic training in instrument flying did not include night instrument take-offs.


Source: Flight International