Alitalia Flight 404

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Alitalia Flight 404, operated by a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32 aircraft, crashed near Zürich Airport, Switzerland on November 14, 1990. The aircraft with forty-six people on board made a controlled flight into the mountain Stadlerberg, five mile track. All people on board were killed.[1]

Alitalia Flight 404
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32, Alitalia AN0592514.jpg
I-ATJA, The aircraft involved in the accident, seen at Charles de Gaulle Airport, three months before the crash.
Date14 November 1990 (1990-11-14)
SummaryControlled flight into terrain due to NAV receiver failure and pilot error
SiteStadlerberg Mountain, Weiach, Switzerland
47°32′50″N 8°26′51″E / 47.54722°N 8.44750°E / 47.54722; 8.44750Coordinates: 47°32′50″N 8°26′51″E / 47.54722°N 8.44750°E / 47.54722; 8.44750
Aircraft typeDouglas DC-9-32
Aircraft nameSicilia
Flight originLinate Airport, Milan, Italy
DestinationZürich Airport, Zürich, Switzerland

Investigation[change | change source]

A Swiss investigation concluded that the accident was caused by a short circuit. This caused the aircraft's NAV receiver to fail.  The malfunction went unnoticed by the crew. They may believed they were on the correct flight path until the accident. Swiss authorities also blamed bad management of crew resources, exemplified when the captain vetoed the first officer's round trip attempt, along with the absence of lighting on Stadlerberg mountain and a known issue with misreading. of the aircraft drum pointer altimeter.

The final report from the Federal Board of Aircraft Accident Investigation called for several important changes and made further recommendations.

Fatal decision[change | change source]

The first officer had started a go-around but the captain stopped it. He said, "Hold the glide slope, can you hold it?". The first officer replied, "Yes". Investigators working with McDonnell Douglas concluded that, if the captain had not interrupted the go-around, the disaster would have been avoided. Investigators believe that the reason for the bad call was that the captain was completely dissatisfied with the first officer's performance during the flight. As a result, the captain showed a lack of trust in his first officer.

References[change | change source]

  1. "46 Die in Crash of Alitalia Plane In Mountainous Area Near Zurich". The New York Times. Reuters. 15 November 1990. ISSN 0362-4331.