Accident at Sarajevo Airport
1st Lt. Pedro Fernández
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
"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
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.
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,"
"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
Nations of SFOR: France