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Tuesday, 2 July, 2002, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
British pilot 'tried to avert disaster'
The scene on Tue morning at Lake Konstanz
German firefighters examine the crash scene
The pilot of one of the aircraft that collided over southern Germany on Monday night has been identified as British.

Captain Paul Phillips, 47, a married man with three children originally from Liverpool, was flying the Boeing 757 freight plane for the courier company DHL.

It is not yet known what caused the disaster in which 71 people died, and why two planes could hit each other in a clear and empty sky.


Self-motivated and resourceful, Paul... was known for his attention to safety and excellent flying standards

Paul Bishop
However, Mr Phillips has been praised by DHL for his "exceptional skill" for apparently attempting to avoid the Bashkirian Airlines Tupolev 154 before they collided.

Both cargo plane pilots and all 57 passengers, including 40 children, and crew on the Tupolev were killed, but there were no reported casualties on the ground.

The mystery surrounding the cause is further complicated by the fact the Boeing 757 was equipped with the latest collision avoidance system.

Both aircraft were diving to avoid a crash when they flew into each other, said Anton Maag of Swiss air traffic controllers Skyguide.

'Complete shock'

And he added there had been repeated warnings to the Russian pilot to reduce his altitude.

It is thought Mr Phillips and his Canadian-born co-pilot Brant Campioni had tried to change course but it was too late to avert the disaster.

The wreckage scattered near homes for 20 miles around where the planes came down on the German-Swiss border.

The Russian passenger plane had been travelling from Moscow to Barcelona where the children were due to attend a culture festival.

DHL Worldwide Express
Founded 1969
Serves 120,000 destinations
Covers 228 countries and territories
Employs 71,000 people

They had only been on the plane because they missed a previous flight after being stuck in traffic.

Witnesses said a huge fireball lit up the night sky as the planes collided 12,000 metres (36,000 feet) above Lake Konstanz.

A spokesman for DHL's public relations company said Mr Phillips's family was in "complete shock".

"There has been a team from DHL with them who informed them about what had happened and to help them through it. They are still with them," he added.

He said Mr Phillips had joined DHL Aviation Bahrain in 1989 and had more than 11,900 flight hours - 4,000 of them on the Boeing 757-200, the type of aircraft that crashed.

Devoted family man

It is thought his wife, Ami, and three children are being cared for at their home, now in Bahrain.

Paul Bishop, the company's Middle East aviation director, said Mr Phillips was a "loving husband" to his wife and described him as a "devoted father" to his children Aycee, eight, Christina, three, and James, four months.

"Our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends during these difficult times," he said.

Mr Bishop added: "Self-motivated and resourceful, Paul had a solid technical background and was known for his attention to safety and excellent flying standards.

"He was extremely well-liked and respected by all his colleagues."

Rob Smallwood, a neighbour of the Phillips family in Bahrain, described the pilot as "a great chap".

Prime Minister Tony Blair sent a message of sympathy to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the families of the Russian victims.
Plane wreckage
The wreckage was spread for 20 miles

It said he was "shocked and deeply saddened".

It added: "It is tragic that so many children from among the Urals were among the victims. Please pass on my sincere condolences to the families of the victims.

"My heart goes out to you and through you to the people of Bashkortostan."

Axel Gietz, another DHL spokesman, said the Boeing had been built in 1990 and had been constantly maintained.

"We cannot explain the accident at this point. We can only send our condolences to the families of those involved."


Key stories:

At the scene:

Background:

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02 Jul 02 | Europe
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