Convictions Stand in Milan Airport Crash

Wednesday, February 20, 2008
By George Hatcher

Convictions Stand in Milan Airport Crash
4 hours ago

ROME (AP) — Italy’s top criminal court on Wednesday upheld prison sentences for five aviation officials convicted in a 2001 runway collision of two aircraft that killed 118 people, Italian news agencies reported.
The Court of Cassation upheld the convictions of manslaughter and negligence and confirmed sentences ranging from three to 6 1/2 years in jail, the ANSA and Apcom news agencies reported.

The longest prison term belongs to Sandro Gualano, who stepped down as chief executive of Italy’s air traffic agency ENAV after the Oct. 8, 2001, crash between an Scandinavian Airlines System airliner and a corporate jet at Milan’s Linate airport, the agencies said.

The crash happened on a foggy morning when the SAS MD-87, bound for Copenhagen, rolled down the tarmac for takeoff. The jetliner collided with a business plane with four people on board then careened into a baggage hangar, killing four ground workers and 110 people on the jetliner.

Investigators have described the accident as avoidable, caused by a combination of human error and poorly followed safety procedures. The ground radar was out of operation.

Investigators cited confusing runway signs, and the control tower failed to ask the smaller plane’s pilot to read back his instructions, authorities said.

Wednesday’s ruling upheld the sentence of former ENAV director general Fabio Marzocca to four years and four months in jail. Three-year terms were also confirmed for Paolo Zacchetti — the controller on duty during the crash — and two other airport officials, ANSA reported.
Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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