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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 206844
Last updated: 28 November 2021
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Time:15:36 UTC
Type:Silhouette image of generic A333 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Airbus A330-343
Owner/operator:Edelweiss Air
Registration: HB-JHR
MSN: 1711
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 206
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: None
Category:Serious incident
Location:13 NM NW of Zürich Airport -   Switzerland
Phase: Approach
Nature:Passenger - Scheduled
Departure airport:Las Vegas-McCarran International Airport, NV (LAS/KLAS)
Destination airport:Zürich-Kloten Airport (ZRH/LSZH)
Investigating agency: STSB Switzerland
Edelweiss Air flight WK3, an Airbus A330-300, operated on a scheduled passenger service from Las Vegas, USA to Zurich, Switzerland.
the flight was in contact with Approach West (APW) of the approach control center in Zurich and was directed to the final approach of runway 14 of Zurich Airport under radar guidance.
Approximately at this time, about 30 NM northwest of Zurich Airport, a Scheibe SF25 motor glider, registered D-KOWC, was on a flight to Biberach (EDMB), Germany, at an altitude of about 6300 ft above mean sea level.
In the Todtmoos region, the pilot switched off the transponder at 15:23 UTC due to a tripped generator fuse in order to keep the total power consumption as low as possible.
After the failure of the tablet carried along for navigation, the pilot was left with only the aeronautical chart.
As a result, the pilot headed directly towards Lake Zurich, which he held for Lake Constance due to hazy conditions and took a southeastern course.
A short time later, the APW controller noticed a primary echo on his radar display that was only occasionally visible and provided the flight crew of flight WK3 with traffic information at 15:34:38 UTC.
About a minute later, the A330 flight crew confirmed their visual contact with the aircraft, which they could identify as a motor glider and capture with a camera.
The two aircraft approached about 13 NM northwest of Zurich Airport at the same altitude, with a horizontal distance of about 300 m.
Due to the good visibility conditions, the Airbus crew was able to continue their approach without any evasive manoeuvres and land on runway 14 about five minutes later.
The pilot of the D-KOWC noticed his navigational error only when he saw the airliner next to him.
He continued his flight in southeastern direction, crossed the Greifensee after a left turn and landed at 16:50 UTC in Biberach (EDMB).

The serious incident, which led to a dangerous approach between a commercial aircraft in instrument approach and a powered glider in cruising flight according to visual flight rules, is due to a navigational error on the part of the pilot of the motor glider who flew into an approach sector of Zurich Airport without establishing a connection and with the transponder switched off. Due to the deactivated transponder, further safety nets were not effective.
The low flight experience of the pilot of the cruising motor glider contributed to the occurrence of the serious incident.



Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: STSB Switzerland
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 6 months
Download report: Final report


Photo of HB-JHR courtesy

Zürich (LSZH / ZRH)
18 August 2019; (c) Freek Blokzijl

Graphic: STSB

Revision history:

28-Feb-2018 10:27 harro Added

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