Zakharova defends 2002 Überlingen mid-air collision's Kaloyev

Zakharova defends 2002 Überlingen mid-air collision's Kaloyev

A number of users recalled the important details about the 2002 Überlingen mid-air collision.

On her Facebook page, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Maria Zakharova has commented on the title of an online publication by Dozhd deidcated to infamous Vitaly Kaloyev. The news came out with the title “Vitaliy Kaloev, who killed the air traffic controller, runs for United Russia deputies.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson wrote the following: “This is everything that Dozhd TV deems necessary to report on Vitaliy Kaloyev and his life. This is when brevity is the sister of meanness.” To recall, in 2004, a former architect from Vladikavkaz, Vitaliy Kaloyev, killed a Swiss air traffic controller who drove two planes that crashed in the air over Lake Constance. The family of the Russian was in the passenger liner.

Some commentators supported Zakharova, believing that Kaloyev’s act could not prevent him from running for deputy. Others left neutral comments, sympathizing with the man’s difficult fate. For example, Larisa Guzeeva wrote: “I met with him this summer... I was afraid to look into his eyes. God save him. Poor, strong, rugged, a misfit.”

An ex-Aeroflot employee also left his comment, recalling that at the time of the tragedy, the Western and Russian protocols for pilots were different. For example, a collision avoidance system was installed on both planes and it worked on both, but with a delay on the Russian plane.  It was too late when 34-year-old dispatcher Peter Nielsen noticed the dangerous approach, as he was observing 2 terminals at the same time when his colleague was at dinner, while other dispatchers were on strike, and some of the dispatching equipment was turned off. What he did was correct. He told the Russian Tu-154, which had not yet noticed the other aircraft, to go down sharply from the echelon of the B-757 of DHL. At the same time, the crew of the cargo Boeing saw that the system showed a dangerous approach and, according to the prescribed protocol, also began to go down. However, immediately after the start of the descent, the command of the traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) sounded in the cockpit of the Russian aircraft informing about the need to gain altitude, but the Russian pilots did not listen to the equipment, but followed the dispatcher’s command.

The only mistake Nielsen made was that he gave the wrong information about another plane, saying that he was to the right of the Tu-154. As the decoding of the flight recorders later showed, some of the pilots of flight 2937 were misled by this message and, perhaps, decided that there was a third aircraft that was invisible on the TCAS screen. The Tu-154 continued to decline, following the instructions of the dispatcher, not TCAS. It is worth emphasizing that none of the pilots informed the dispatcher about the contradiction in the received commands from him and from the TCAS system.

At the same time, the cargo flight 611 was going down following the TCAS instruction. As soon as possible, the pilots reported this to Nielsen. The dispatcher did not hear this message due to the fact that another plane was communicating with him at a different frequency.

The pilots of both airliners saw each other in the last seconds before the collision and tried to prevent the tragedy by completely bending down the helms. At 21:35:32, flights BTC 2937 and DHX 611 collided almost at right angles at an altitude of 10,634 meters (FL350 level).

This tragedy prompted the Federal Air Transport Agency to change the protocols to the same ones that are in force throughout the world: it is necessary to follow the instructions of the system, and not follow the command of the dispatcher if it contradicts the readings of the sensors. It is worth noting that Nielsen’s mistake in indicating “to the right” would not be fundamental if both planes acted according to a single protocol, and not different ones.

On February 24, 2004, Kaloyev killed Nielsen on the threshold of his house. The Russian stabbed him 12 times.

Tags: Moscow
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