2018 Ju-Air Junkers Ju 52 crash

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2018 Ju-Air Junkers Ju 52 crash
Junkers Ju-52-3m, Ju-Air JP6585913.jpg
HB-HOT, the Ju 52 involved in the accident, photographed in 2009
Date4 August 2018 (2018-08-04)
SummaryUnder investigation
Site Piz Segnas mountain, Glarus Alps, Switzerland
46°53′53″N09°13′40″E / 46.89806°N 9.22778°E / 46.89806; 9.22778 Coordinates: 46°53′53″N09°13′40″E / 46.89806°N 9.22778°E / 46.89806; 9.22778
Aircraft type Junkers Ju 52/3mg4e
Operator Ju-Air  [ de ]
Registration HB-HOT
Flight origin Locarno Airport
Destination Dübendorf Air Base

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.

Junkers Ju 52 airliner and military transport aircraft

The Junkers Ju 52/3m is a German transport aircraft manufactured from 1931 to 1952, initially designed with a single engine but subsequently produced as a trimotor. It had both civilian and military service during the 1930s and 1940s. In a civilian role, it flew with over 12 air carriers including Swissair and Deutsche Luft Hansa as an airliner and freight hauler. In a military role, it flew with the Luftwaffe as a troop and cargo transport and briefly as a medium bomber. The Ju 52 continued in postwar service with military and civilian air fleets well into the 1980s. The aircraft has continued to be used well beyond that date for purposes such as sightseeing.

Piz Segnas mountain in the Glarus Alps

Piz Segnas is a mountain in the Glarus Alps, located on the border between the cantons of Glarus and Graubünden. Piz Sardona is on the same ridge to the north, from where the Trinserhorn or Piz Dolf lies to the southeast. The Tschingelhoerner with the famous Martinsloch lies to the west, with the Pass dil Segnas between the two mountains.

Locarno Place in Ticino, Switzerland

Locarno is a southern Swiss town and municipality in the district Locarno, located on the northern shore of Lake Maggiore at its northeastern tip in the canton of Ticino at the southern foot of the Swiss Alps. It has a population of about 16,000 (proper), and about 56,000 for the agglomeration of the same name including Ascona besides other municipalities.


It was the first fatal crash of a Ju-Air aircraft since the company began operations in 1982. The cause of the crash is under investigation.


Switzerland relief location map.jpg
Crash site
City locator 9.svg
City locator 9.svg
Location of the crash site between the departure airport (Locarno) and the intended destination (Dübendorf)

The aircraft was flying from Locarno Airport to Dübendorf Air Base, on the return leg of a two-day trip. The weather was unseasonably warm with choppy winds. [1] At 16:56 local time on 4 August (14:56 UTC), [2] the Junkers crashed into Piz Segnas mountain, at an elevation of 2,540 metres (8,330 ft). [3] [4]

Locarno Airport airport

Locarno Airport, , mil ICAO code LSMO, is an airport located near the city of Locarno, Ticino, Switzerland. It is a mixed civilian and military airport. The airfield is used simultaneously by civilian aircraft and the Swiss Air Force from the "airfield command Locarno". Although they use the same runways, the Swiss Air Force has its own taxiways and parking and a large hangar. It is located in the community of Gordola, seven kilometers from the Locarno City center. The nearest stop to the Swiss Federal Railways is the 2 km distant station Riazzino of railway Giubiasco Locarno.

Dübendorf Air Base

Militärflugplatz Dübendorf is a military airfield northeast of Dübendorf in Switzerland, located east of Zürich.

Coordinated Universal Time Primary time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time

Coordinated Universal Time is the primary time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time. It is within about 1 second of mean solar time at 0° longitude, and is not adjusted for daylight saving time. In some countries where English is spoken, the term Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is often used as a synonym for UTC and predates UTC by nearly 300 years.

The Tschingelhorner mountain ridge looking northwest, with the Martinsloch hole (centre) and Segnas Pass (right). The Ju 52 crashed on the plateau below. Martinsloch.jpg
The Tschingelhörner mountain ridge looking northwest, with the Martinsloch hole (centre) and Segnas Pass (right). The Ju 52 crashed on the plateau below.

Swiss authorities stated 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 (60 ft) 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. [5] Around 10 minutes before the crash, another witness had observed the Ju 52 suddenly banking sharply to the left and losing altitude, before increasing engine power and recovering to normal flight. [2]

The aircraft was carrying three crew and seventeen passengers, [2] all of them Swiss apart from an Austrian couple and their son. [6] Nine of the people aboard were women and eleven were men. [7] [8] [9]

Aircraft and crew

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. [3] It had been used in the films Where Eagles Dare (1968) [10] and Valkyrie (2008) and the 2012 German movie Bis zum Horizont, dann links!  [ de ]. [11] The aircraft had been issued with a certificate of airworthiness by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) on 6 April 2018, valid for two years. [2]

Aircraft registration registration and identification assigned to an individual aircraft by national aviation authorities

An aircraft registration is a code unique to a single aircraft, required by international convention to be marked on the exterior of every civil aircraft. The registration indicates the aircraft's country of registration, and functions much like an automobile license plate. This code must also appear in its Certificate of Registration, issued by the relevant National Aviation Authority (NAA). An aircraft can only have one registration, in one jurisdiction, though it is changeable over the life of the aircraft.

Swiss Air Force Air component of the Swiss Armed Forces

The Swiss Air Force is the air component of the Swiss Armed Forces, established on 31 July 1914 as part of the army and in October 1936 as an independent service.

<i>Where Eagles Dare</i> 1968 World War II action film by Brian G. Hutton

Where Eagles Dare is a 1968 British Metrocolor World War II action film directed by Brian G. Hutton and starring Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood and Mary Ure. It was distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, filmed in Panavision, and shot on location in Austria and Bavaria. Alistair MacLean wrote the novel of the same name and the screenplay at the same time. It was his first screenplay; both film and book became commercial successes.

On the day of the crash, the Junkers was piloted by two veteran captains, aged 62 and 63. Both had extensive experience as pilots for Swissair, Swiss and Edelweiss, as well as more than 30 years of militia service with the Swiss Air Force. Both also had several hundred flight hours' worth of experience with the Ju 52. [12] The third crew member was a 66-year-old flight attendant, also with 40 years of professional experience. [12]

Swissair national airline of Switzerland

Swissair AG/S.A. was the national airline of Switzerland between its founding in 1931 and bankruptcy in 2002.

Swiss International Air Lines AG, commonly referred to as Swiss, is the national airline of Switzerland, operating scheduled services in Europe and to North America, South America, Africa and Asia. Zurich Airport is its hub, Geneva Airport is a focus city. The airline was formed following the bankruptcy in 2002 of Swissair, Switzerland's then flag carrier. The new airline was built around what had been Swissair's regional subsidiary, Crossair. Swiss retains Crossair's IATA code LX. It assumed Swissair's old ICAO code of SWR, to maintain international traffic rights. It is a member of Star Alliance and a subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group. Its headquarters are at EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg near Basel, Switzerland, and an office at Zurich Airport in Kloten, Switzerland. The company's registered office is in Basel.

Edelweiss Air is a Swiss leisure airline wholly owned by Swiss International Air Lines which in turn is owned by Lufthansa. It operates flights to European and intercontinental destinations from its base at Zürich Airport.


Hiking routes and the local airspace were closed off for the duration of the recovery operation, which involved five helicopters. [12]

Ju-Air suspended all flights by its other Ju 52 aircraft for two weeks, until they resumed operations on 17 August under stricter conditions. [13] [14] [15]

Following a review in March 2019, while the accident investigation was still ongoing, the FOCA banned Ju-Air from conducting commercial passenger flights with Ju 52s, allowing only private flights for club members. It was deemed that historical aircraft such as the Ju 52 no longer meet current safety requirements for commercial passenger transport. [16]


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. [11]

A spokesperson for the STSB said that the Junkers "fell like a stone to the ground", [17] and that the heatwave in Europe could have been a factor in the crash, as heat reduces an aircraft's climb performance. [18] The police indicated that no distress signal was received from the aircraft prior to the crash. [6] Investigators ruled out a collision with a cable or another aircraft, and said that there was no indication of foul play or the aircraft losing parts before the crash. [12] The aircraft was not fitted with any flight recorders. [7] Investigators are hoping to find some relevant information from passengers' personal photographic and video recordings during the sightseeing flight. [19] The STSB issued its preliminary report on 15 August 2018. [20] An intermediate report was issued on 20 November 2018, citing anterior corrosion marks and cracks, not related to the accident, which effectively grounded the two remaining Ju-52 of Ju-Air (HB-HOP and HB-HOS) until further investigation of these airframe and engine issues. [21]

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  1. Die Wetterstation liegt in etwa 2500 m Höhe am Crap Masegn.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Hradecky, Simon (4 August 2018). "Crash: Ju-Air JU52 at Piz Segnas on Aug 4th 2018, impacted terrain". The Aviation Herald. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  3. 1 2 "HB-HOT Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  4. Vorbericht der Schweizerischen Sicherheitsuntersuchungsstelle SUST
  5. Fröhlich, Cedric (6 August 2018). "-Hüttenwart sah Absturz: "Es hat keine 15 Sekunden gedauert"". Der Bund . Retrieved 6 August 2018. Sie fliegt Richtung Norden. Am Martinsloch vorbei. Anstatt über den Grat zu fliegen, geht das Flugzeug in eine scharfe Kurve. Felder rennt nach draussen. Die Ju 52 kippt unvermittelt in den Sturzflug. Ein dumpfer Einschlag. Das Flugzeug prallt senkrecht auf dem Hochplateau unter dem Martinsloch auf. «Als hätte man ein Lot aufgestellt», sagt Feldner. Anflug, Kurve, Absturz. «Es hat keine 15 Sekunden gedauert.»
  6. 1 2 "Vintage plane crashes in Swiss Alps, killing all 20 on board". USA Today . Associated Press. 5 August 2018. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
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