Skyguide Agrees 2002 Air Crash Payout

December 18, 2006

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Swiss air traffic control company Skyguide has agreed the compensation it will pay to relatives of 30 people who died in a 2002 mid-air plane collision close to the Swiss-German border, a lawyer for the firm said on Monday.

Lawyer Alexander von Ziegler declined to give details on amounts to be paid to the relatives and said Skyguide had already agreed compensation with the families of the 41 other people who died in the same crash.

"We have never given any commentary on the amounts," Ziegler said.

But when asked if Skyguide had agreed compensation for the final 30 families, Ziegler said: "Yes. The families' lawyers can now take a look and decide if they want to appeal (the amounts) in the Swiss courts."

Skyguide, which was operating the airspace over southern Germany, has admitted errors in the incident.

On July 1, 2002, Skyguide was operating with a single air traffic controller who told the pilot of a Bashkirian Airlines Tupolev 154 to descend to avoid a collision, even though early-warning instruments aboard the place had told the pilots to climb.

The automatic anti-collision system on a DHL Boeing 757 also instructed its pilots to descend to the same level and the Boeing's tail fin sliced open the Russian jet.

The 69 people on board the Russian Tupolev passenger jet, most of them children, as well as two pilots on the Boeing 757 operated by the courier company DHL died in the crash.

(Reuters)