Bashkirian Airlines Crash

By midnight on July 1, 2002, a fiery torch lit in the sky of Uberlingen, an old town on the north shore of Lake Constance, Germany. A woman who happened to be on the road and saw a large flash in space accelerated her car to see what was happening.

"I thought it was a UFO," the woman told Guardian reporters. "I want to be the first to say 'hello' to the aliens." But it wasn't the UFOs that fell on Uberlingen.

Just moments after the blaze disappeared, something fell from the sky that hit Brachenreute's roof, (home for children with disabilities).


Anke Schumann, who was smoking cigarettes outside was shocked. He didn't think the thing that shocked him was actually a human corpse. He later learned that the body was captain Alexander Gross, a 2937 Bashkirian Airlines flight pilot.

Hours before "crashing" in Uberlingen, Alexander, then 52, with copilot Oleg Grigoriev, left Domodedovo, Moscow, Russia, to Barcelona, Spain.

On board, 45 children came from the city of Ufa, Russia's Bashkortostan State. They are from wealthy families in Ufa planning a vacation on Costa Dorada Beach in the city of La Pineda.

(Captain Alexander Gross)

The staff of the Estival Park Hotel on the Costa Dorada Coast is getting ready to greet his guests, but the children from the long-awaited Ufa City have not arrived.

By midnight, Captain Alexander Gross took his 60 passengers across German airspace, above the City of Uberlingen, not far from the Swiss border. In addition to 60 passengers, there were 9 crew aboard the Tupolev Tu-154M.


Even in parts of Germany, air traffic in Uberlingen is under the control tower of Zurich, Switzerland. The Zurich control tower operator is from private company Skyguide. That night, the attendant at the Zurich control tower had only one man, Peter Nielsen. Another officer was sleeping in the next room.

While his colleagues were asleep, Nielsen was very busy. In addition to Alexander's Bashkirian Airlines, several other aircraft were flying in Zurich.

(Peter Nielsen)

These include DHL International cargoes flying to Brussels, Belgium, THA-933 Thai Airways, NMB-286 NamibAir, and MonarchAir.

Due to delays in data transmission, Nielsen was unaware of the distance between DHL's Boeing 757 aircraft flying close to the position of Bashkirian Airlines.

Both planes are at an altitude of 36 thousand feet. When he first realized, the planes was only about a minute away.

At 23:42:56, TCAS (traffic collision avoidance system / TCAS) in the Bashkirian and DHL planes both on and deliver instructions to avoid accidents.

Nielsen asked Captain Alexander to lower the plane's height to 35 thousand feet. The TCAS on the DHL aircraft also asked the pilot to lower the aircraft's height. Captain Alexander decided to follow Nielsen's command of regulating the air traffic control tower in Zurich.


When the two were aware of the problem, the two planes separated for only 8 seconds. Both pilots are trying to avoid collision but it's too late.

At 34,890 feet or 10,630 meters, the Boeing DHL, headed by Captain Paul Phillips, collided with the left side of Bashkirian Airlines and divided it into four parts.

(Captain Paul Phillips)

Due to loss of balance, DHL planes were still able to fly a few miles before landing. But all passengers and crew of Bashkirian Airlines, as well as DHL pilots and co-pilots, were killed.

(DHL cargo plane in the city of Uberlingen, Germany, on July 1, 2002)

Nikolai Odegov, Director of Bashkirian Airlines, pointed the finger at the accident because of Zurich's control tower.

“They were directing the two aircraft in one flight ... There is no reason to show that there was a pilot error in taking the aircraft, ”Nikolai told CBSNews at the time.

(Officer collects a piece of aircraft)

According to Peter Schlegel (head of the German Air Accident Investigation Agency) "It would take at least 90 seconds for the pilot to avoid being hit on the air like the Bashkirian and DHL aircraft. However, the warning was given by the Zurich tower when the two aircraft were only 50 seconds apart."

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