Accident at Sarajevo Airport

1st Lt. Pedro Fernández Vicente
First published in
SFOR Informer#130, January 17, 2002

Dec. 23, A Crossair HB-IXH skidded 100 metres off the runway when it tried to land at Sarajevo airport under snowy conditions. Nobody was injured in the accident, nor was there any damage. By Monday afternoon the aircraft had been recovered and was parked on the apron. The French Air Detachment (DETAIR) and local aeronautical authorities have opened an investigation to determine the cause of the accident.
Sarajevo - It was snowing on the afternoon of Dec. 23. The airport snowplough had just cleared the runway, a 20 minute job, when an HB-IXH from Zurich requested authorisation to land.
"In those circumstances, the air traffic controller cannot give authorisation. He only informs the pilot and the pilot is the one who has the responsibility to take the decision to land," said Maj. Olivier Mrowiki, air deputy commander. "The pilot (captain) decided to land and began the IFR approach procedure. The manoeuvre was correct and the touch down (landing) was perfect. The problem arose when the aircraft did not stop on the runway and went beyond it and stopped just in front of the ILS (instrumental landing system) antennas more than 100 metres beyond the end of the runway," said Mrowiki.
The answer
All emergency services were activated: the airport rescue team, airport police, DETAIR and SFOR military police. Within a few minutes airport assistance teams surrounded the aeroplane.
"The aircraft was carrying 84 passengers and six crew members. Nobody was injured, and only two people needed medical assistance. One of them panicked when he got outside and realised that the plane was beyond the runway, and the other one had heart trouble. The plane didn't suffer any damage because the land was very hard due to the low temperatures during the week, which left the ground completely frozen. Nobody inside the plane realised that the plane was off the airstrip," said Maj. Olivier Jozwicki, Air Traffic Control (ATC) commander.
The investigation
Within a short period of time the area was closed by the SFOR military police and the State Border Service (SBS). The airport police of Bosnia and Herzegovina controlled access to the plane. A technical commission formed by DETAIR and the local authorities (the airport, the Federal Civilian Aviation Department and the BiH Transport Ministry) are trying to determine the cause of the accident. Concurrently, a civilian investigation, headed by a judge, is determining if there are any criminal or civil responsibilities, and if so, who is guilty. The SBS have made the first step in these proceedings by taking control of the plane's black box.
The Air Traffic Control
"The responsibility for Sarajevo Airport ATC belongs to SFOR. DETAIR is the unit which does this work. DETAIR is the oldest unit in BiH. We have been here since July 1992," said Mrowiki.
"We are in charge of the ATC. Sarajevo ATC has two different parts: the Approach Control (APP) with radar control, which has only military controllers, and the Control Tower (TWR). This has two local civilian controllers supervised by a military one. The airport is open to civilian traffic from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and all the time for SFOR operations," said Jozwicki. "There is a civilian chief of the ATC but he is responsible to the ATC (military) commander. The first step to transfer this responsibility has begun. Ten civilian controllers have been trained for TWR control. The second step will be to train and qualify them as radar controllers. But at this stage there are lots of problems, due to the fact that there is no civilian radar here. Someone has to buy it."

Related links: SFOR at Work
Nations of SFOR: France

Click on thumbnail to enlarge
Photo: Courtesy of CJ3

Dec. 23, a Crossair aircraft went 100 metres off the end on the runway when it tried to land at Sarajevo airport in snowy conditions. By Monday afternoon the vehicle had been recovered and parked on the apron. The French Air Detachment and local aeronautical authorities have opened an investigation to determine the cause of the accident.


Click on thumbnail to enlarge
Photo: Courtesy of CJ3

All the airport heavy trucks form a powerful chain and pull the plane out of its predicament.