A helicopter crashed yesterday, July 4, 2023, at around 8 a.m. on the Col Gnifetti, in the Monte Rosa massif in Switzerland. The chopper by Air Zermatt was carrying glaciologists and crashed upon landing at almost 4,500 m (14,764 ft) of altitude. According to the police report, the helicopter appears to have spun out of control in a vortex before crashing to the ground, with the blades hitting the ground, causing it to tip over sideways.
According to the press release by Air Zermatt, the helicopter was carrying five people, including the pilot and a flight assistant. All five miraculously survived the impact. The helicopter was transporting glaciologists to the nearby Capanna Margarita, including Ph.D. student Enrico Mattea from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.
The team was on the way to take temperature measurements for Professor Martin Hölzle from the Department of Geology. The weather station at Capanna Margherita was opened in 1899 and has been a valuable source of information for scientists for more than a century. Mattea called his professor a little while later.
“He sounded very calm and collected,” Hölzle recalled in an interview with a Swiss newspaper, “I thought, maybe the crash wasn’t that bad. But then I saw the picture and I realized that my colleagues survived by some kind of miracle. They could have all been killed!”
Monte Rosa is the highest mountain wall in the European Alps and is located near the border of Switzerland and Italy. The Dufour Peak of the Monte Rosa range is the tallest Swiss mountain, with a peak altitude of 4,634 m (15,203 ft).
According to Air Zermatt, the helicopter involved in the crash was a Eurocopter H125 (formerly known as AS350 B3E) by Airbus, which is the leading type of helicopter for civil & para-public transport, accounting for 15% of the global fleet.