The plane collision over Germany Tuesday could be the result of an error of air traffic controllers on the ground, a source familiar with aviation has speculated.
He suggested the controllers might have allocated "a narrow flight passage" for the Russian Tupolev 154 airliner.
The Russian passenger plane carrying 69 people including 52 children, 5 adults, and 12 crew collided with a Boeing 757 cargo plane with two crew at an altitude of 12 km Tuesday night.
Remarks of Russia's State Civil Aviation Service head Alexander Neradko appeared to corroborate that theory. Neradko went on record Tuesday as saying "human error" had been the cause of the crash. He hinted, too, that air traffic control might have been responsible for the error. At the same time, he dismissed the idea that the Russian crew might have been mistaken.
Spanish media also floated the theory that air traffic controllers might have made an error that eventually led to the disaster. Spain's National Radio said the collision between the Bashkirian Airlines TU-154 and the Boeing 757 of the DHL air express carrier may have resulted from a command from the ground to descend simultaneously.
Spain's EFE wire service cited anonymous sources saying that Switzerland had "unofficially notified German colleagues of the confusion that appears to have caused the tragedy." The news service elaborated that the crash "occurred 5 minutes after the Tupolev left the area of responsibility of German air traffic control services and entered the zone that Swiss authorities are responsible for."