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Last updated: 3 December 2021
Status:Final
Date:Wednesday 14 November 1990
Time:19:11
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC93 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32
Operator:Alitalia
Registration: I-ATJA
MSN: 47641/746
First flight: 1974
Total airframe hrs:43894
Cycles:43452
Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney JT8D-9A
Crew:Fatalities: 6 / Occupants: 6
Passengers:Fatalities: 40 / Occupants: 40
Total:Fatalities: 46 / Occupants: 46
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Aircraft fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Stadlerberg (   Switzerland)
Crash site elevation: 506 m (1660 feet) amsl
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Milano-Linate Airport (LIN/LIML), Italy
Destination airport:Zürich-Kloten Airport (ZRH/LSZH), Switzerland
Flightnumber:AZ404
Narrative:
Alitalia Flight 404 took off from runway 36R at Linate Airport in Milan, Italy at 18:36 on a scheduled passenger service to Zurich, Switzerland.
After an uneventful flight, AZ404 was cleared to descend to 4000 feet and to make an ILS approach to runway 14 at Zürich-Kloten Airport. At 14 nm from the runway 14 threshold, the aircraft captured the localizer. At about 11,5 nm short, the aircraft descended through the cleared altitude of 4000 feet. Descent from 4000 feet was only allowed after intercepting the glide path at 8 nm.
The aircraft descended about 1400 feet below the glide path until it struck trees on the Stadlerberg mountainside at an elevation of 506 meters, 5,2 nm from the runway. The aircraft crashed and broke up, killing all 46 on board.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "False indication of VHF NAV unit No.1 in the aircraft; probable altimeter misreading by the PIC; no GPWS warning in the cockpit; pilots not aware of the possibility of incorrect indications in the NAV equipment in use (without flag-alarm); inadequate failure analysis by the pilots; non-compliance with basic procedural instructions during the approach; COPI's initiated go-around procedure aborted by the PIC; the approach controller not observing the leaving of the cleared altitude of 4000ft QNH before the FAP."

Accident investigation:
cover
Investigating agency: BFU Switzerlnd
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 2 years and 3 months
Accident number: Nr. 1457
Download report: Final report

Classification:
Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Mountain

Sources:
» Air Safety Week 5 April 1993 (p. 4,5)
» NTSB Safety Recommendations A-92-8 and 9


Photos

photo of DC-9-32-I-ATJA
photo of DC-9-32-I-ATJA
accident date: 14-11-1990
type: McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32
registration: I-ATJA
 

Map
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Milano-Linate Airport to Zürich-Kloten Airport as the crow flies is 230 km (144 miles).
Accident location: Exact; deduced from official accident report.

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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