AP, May 06, 2004
Human error said to cause Bosnia crash
By AIDA CERKEZ-ROBINSON, ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- Errors by the crew caused the crash that killed Macedonia's president and eight others on board two months ago, officials announced Wednesday.
A 75-page report produced by Bosnian, Macedonian, U.S. and NATO investigators said the aircraft was functioning perfectly. But the two-man crew - a pilot and a co-pilot - miscalculated key flight data in stormy weather.
"The immediate causes ... were procedural mistakes of the crew in regard to location and height while approaching Mostar airport," Branko Dokic, Bosnia's transport and communications minister.
According to the report, the crew lowered the plane and embarked on its final approach curve to the airport too soon in relation to the distance to the runway.
At another point the plane lost the beacon signal from the airport for 18 seconds - which normally should lead to an aborted approach. But the pilots decided to try to land anyway.
The plane crashed against a hill about five miles south of the Mostar airport, killing President Boris Trajkovski, six of his associates and the two pilots.
Elected in 1999, Trajkovski was Macedonia's second head of state since the former Yugoslav republic gained independence in 1991.
When fighting erupted in 2001 between ethnic Albanian insurgents and government troops, Trajkovski helped steer the nation toward a peace deal that met the rebels' demands in exchange for an end to hostilities.