I've been struggling to let it sink in these last few hours since I've learned of the tragedy. I was planning on flying with them next year. Another Tante Ju has bitten the dust, and that's not even the worst news. I've been enjoying admiring and tracking their planes for many years, it always brought a big smile on my face to see their venerable Ju-52s gracing the skies over the Alps in our days, and I told myself it's time for me too to have the honor to fly with them. This really hit me so hard.
More or less: HB-HOT came down in a nearly vertical attitude, in one piece and at high speed, no midair crash nor structual desintegration could be verified. Some witnesses report that the airplane did a 180 turn back and at the end of the turn went out of control. Weather datas suggest, that at least moderate turbulence, very high air temprature and cloud-buildups over the mountain ridge they had to cross were present. The valley they were passing at 2700 meters flight altitude (according their flight plan) is not very wide and the ground is near at 2500 m. And the airplane was heavy while fully occupied. Still it is difficult to believe, that two pilots of outstanding experience in general, local knowledge and high time in type got into a situation they tried to solve by turning into a stall.
Although JU-Air has started anew their operations, the Swiss aviation authorities have tightened the rules for this type of flying:
1)The minimum altitude is now the double of the VFR minimums (300 m instead 150 m, over populated areas 600 instead 300 m) 2) A GPS tracker has to save the datas of every flight. 3) No cockpit visits any more and all passengers have to be seated using their seatbelts during the entire flight.
The investigation is concentrating for the moment on analysing the wreckage and on evaluating the flight operations, their organisation, preparation and supervision.
The new obligatory rules hint on some thinking of the investigators: Rule 1 and 2 hint on a possible too high risk taking. Rule 3 refers to a possible load shift by passengers trying to take a fancy picture of the spectacular "Martinsloch" were HB-HOT crashed and to passengers distracting the pilots in a critical moment of the flight.
The final report of the accident came out now and claims an overwhelming responsibility (better irresponsibility) on the pilots but also on the "airline" JU-AIR and also on the swiss aviation authorities.
In the last minutes of the flight all good rules of mountain flying where put aside entering too slow too low a valley without a safe turnback possibility. Besides the centre of gravity was too far back.