Swiss probe says boy, 14, at controls of crashed plane

A police officer gives details at a press conference shortly after the accident on August 4, 2017 KEYSTONE/Uwe Beierer

Swiss investigators say a 14-year-old was at the controls of a small plane that crashed in the Alps in 2017, killing him and two other people.

This content was published on January 18, 2019 - 15:11

The Piper PA-28 aircraft crashed in the Diavolezza mountain region, southeastern Switzerland, in August 2017. The plane’s 61-year-old pilot and another 14-year-old boy were also killed, and a 17-year-old girl was seriously injured.

+ Read more about the crash here

The Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation BoardExternal link said in a report on Friday the pilot had chosen a risky flight course. In addition, it said that “the pilot’s risky decision to hand the controls to the passenger [was] a direct contributing factor to the accident”. It added that the pilot hadn’t trained as a flight instructor.

In addition, there was a “lack of safety awareness” on the part of the organisers, who had allowed people who were not trained as flight instructors to hand over the controls to those with no flight experience, the report stated.

The flight had taken place during the youth camp run by the Aero-Club of Switzerland, which was attended by 192 teenagers aged 14-16. In the previous 35 years, 5,000 youngsters had attended the annual camp and there had never been any serious accidents.

The Aero-Club of Switzerland said on FridayExternal link it had taken note of the report and would be analysing its conclusions.

The club added that it was still deeply shocked by the accident but it would not be releasing any further comment on the findings concerning how the flight was carried out. It said it would make a decision on how flights would be organised during youth camps after analysing the report.

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