MR. TURNBULL: The next witness, My Lords, is number 787 on the list, Bogomira Erac, who will give evidence in German.
THE MACER: Witness number 787 on the Crown list, Your Lordship, Bogomira Erac.
WITNESS: BOGOMIRA ERAC, sworn
LORD SUTHERLAND: Advocate Depute.
EXAMINATION IN CHIEF BY MR. TURNBULL:
Q Are you Bogomira Erac?
Q And do you live in Germany?
Q What age are you?
Q Where were you born, please?
A In Crnomelj, Slovenia, in ex-Yugoslavia.
Q And did you live there for some time before living in Germany?
A I lived in Slovenia until '66.
Q Thank you. Do you now work at Frankfurt Airport?
A Since the 1st of January 2000, I am no longer working at Frankfurt Airport.
Q When did you begin working at Frankfurt
A On the 1st of May 1974 I started to work for a firm, and then in '75, I started to work for the Frankfurt Airport directly.
Q When you worked -- I'm sorry, was the firm you mentioned called ISI?
A Yes. The first firm was ISI from Berlin, and the one which I now work for is the FAG, Frankfurt.
Q What was your job when you worked with ISI at Frankfurt?
A I was a programmer when I worked for ISI. I also did some operating. And when I started out with FAG, I started out as a programmer, and later I did operating.
Q Did the firm ISI develop the software that was used to control the baggage conveyancing system at Frankfurt Airport?
Q So from your first involvement with Frankfurt Airport, have you worked with the baggage
Q And were you working at Frankfurt Airport in December of 1988?
Q And did you work as an operator in the computer system at that time?
A Yes. Yes.
Q Was that the same department as Kurt Berg?
Q Was he your supervisor?
A Yes, he was my supervisor.
Q In December of 1988, was it possible to ask the computer to print out information about the baggage sent to a particular flight?
A Could you please repeat the question once again?
Q Was it possible to ask the computer to print out details of the baggage sent to an outgoing flight?
A Yes, that was possible.
Q And for how long would that information be kept in the computer?
A The information was kept in the computer
for a few days; however, for various appraisal processes, we copied the data onto two boards. We switched between one and the other.
Q All right. Were you working in the computer department on the 21st of December of 1988?
A Yes, I was on the late shift.
Q And what time did you finish?
A Officially, we stopped at 22.00 hours, but we finished around about a quarter of an hour earlier, and so we were allowed to leave earlier, if we had finished our work earlier.
Q When did you hear about the crash of flight 103?
A I heard about it in my car when I was driving away from the airport.
Q And did you realise that that was a flight that had been handled during your shift?
A On the news it said the plane came from Frankfurt, and actually, I didn't know anything further about it. I thought it was a direct flight. I didn't know anything more than that.
Q And did you think that it had been one of the flights that had been dealt with during your shift?
A I was sure about that time, the
afternoon we had dealt with all of the planes which were leaving Frankfurt in the afternoon.
Q Were you working the next day?
A Yes, I was doing the late shift the next day as well.
Q And did people at the airport speak about the crash?
A Yes, we talked a lot about this crash. In fact, that was virtually all that people talked about.
Q Did you decide to do something with the computer?
A Well, actually, it was quite late on. We've got -- we had a television in our unit. It's the news, I saw the images.
Q And did you then decide to make an inquiry in the computer system?
A Well, I was actually curious about that flight. A day earlier there had not been any problems, so I was interested to see how much luggage there had been. And so it was really because I was curious that I made a printout.
Q What did you make a printout of?
A I've got a KIK computer, and I made a
printout of the plane from the day before, on the 21st of December.
Q Would you look at the screen with me, to Production 1060, image 1, please. Can we magnify to the top, please. Thank you. Do you recognise this document, Mrs. Erac?
A One moment, please. I've got to put my spectacles on.
Q Can we see the flight number?
A Yes. Yes, you can see the flight number.
Q And is it flight Pan Am 103?
A Yes, it's flight Pan Am 103, 1988, from December 21st was the date. It indicates the counter where the luggage for Pan Am 103 was checked in.
Q And is this the information that you asked the computer to print out?
A Yes, that's the information I wanted about the luggage which went through the luggage transportation system for that flight.
Q What did you do with the computer printout?
A Well, I took a look at it, and I was really surprised that so few pieces of luggage had been checked in whilst there were so many passengers on
board. Generally, at that time of the year -- at that time, anyway -- Americans had much more luggage. I took a look to see whether all of the items of luggage came out of the system, the ones that had been checked in, and whether they were on time. And I saw that as far as the computer was concerned, nothing remained in Frankfurt.
Q Did you realise at the time that the Frankfurt flight had connected with a larger aircraft in London?
A No, I only found out about that later on.
Q All right. So once you had finished looking at the computer printout, did you give it to anyone?
A No. No. I didn't see anything problematic.
Q What did you do with the computer printout, then?
A No one instructed me to make this computer printout. I just did it for myself because I was curious about the way in which the flight had been dispatched, so I took a look at it, and then I kept it as a souvenir, one might say. I hung it up in my cupboard.
Q Were you due to take some holiday leave about this time?
A A few days later, I went to Slovenia. That was what I did every year; I went to Slovenia for the New Year.
Q Do you recollect when you returned to Frankfurt?
A I think it would have been around about the 15th of January, perhaps one day before that.
Q Did there come a stage when you told Mr. Berg that you had the printout?
A That was around a week later. When I went to Frankfurt again, I was on the early shift. It was sometime between the 20th and the 25th of January.
Q Thank you. Did you give the printout to Mr. Berg at that time?
A Yes, I gave Mr. Berg this printout, because I'd realised that there was actually no other documentation available.
Q Did he ask you to check the computer at that stage to see if there was any more information available?
A In the computer -- well, there was -- the data was there for one week, and after that they were written over. Mr. Berg just asked me to take a
look in the archive in order to see whether there were teletype printouts. These were the things which came automatically from the computer. But I couldn't find anything.
Q Would there be any record of the baggage sent to flight 103 if you hadn't made this printout?
A Not so far as I know.
Q Thank you.
LORD SUTHERLAND: Mr. Taylor.
MR. TAYLOR: I think Mr. Davidson is leading on this issue, My Lord, but I have no questions.
LORD SUTHERLAND: Mr. Davidson.
MR. BURNS: I have a number of questions, My Lord.
LORD SUTHERLAND: Very well, Mr. Burns.
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR. BURNS:
Q Mrs. Erac, can I ask you, please, something about the procedure in relation to the computers.
A Yes, go ahead.
Q In 1988, am I right in thinking that at the beginning of each day the baggage conveyancing system computers needed to be switched on?
A The computers were all switched on. We didn't switch them off at all, but every day we started
anew, working with the standardized state, so that was with the baggage -- I believe it was a KIK computer where the data were stored. They were stored in that computer for a few days, and it would be possible then to copy the data onto disks.
Q All right. What I really am interested in knowing is whether, at the beginning of each day, the time needed to be entered into the computer system.
A Yes, at the start, the date and the time had to be put into the computer.
Q And the time would be taken, would it, from the person's watch, or an office clerk, at the time when the time was entered into the computer?
A I'm afraid I haven't quite understood what you mean with this question. Could you please repeat the question?
Q Where would the operator get the time which was entered into the computer at the stage we are talking about?
A You get the time from the main clock in the computer, or from one's own watch, or from another clock.
Q Now, during the course of the day, would the time that the computer showed start to deviate from the time that the clock showed, for instance?
A Yes, that's correct, but it's a physical phenomenon. Computer time, after about 4.00 or 5.00 in the afternoon, one would note differences of two or three minutes, let's say. It's a physical phenomenon. We were aware of this. It's because of the frequencies.
Q All right. So because of the electrical frequencies that powered the computer --
Q -- the computer time would deviate from other times shown on, for instance, clocks or watches; is that the position?
A Yes, there were small deviations.
Q Do you know whether the power company had been -- by December 1988 had been contacted about these problems in the power -- in the electrical frequencies?
A Well, I wasn't actually in charge of that. I didn't deal with the hardware side of things. I don't know whether they had been contacted.
Q Could the deviation between computer and clock time increase beyond three minutes?
A Well, you have to know which time you are referring to; not in such general terms, but at what time are you referring to?
Q Well, you've told us that by 4.00 or 5.00, the time difference would be two or three minutes. What I am interested to know is whetherit's -- the difference ever became more than three minutes.
A Well, I didn't really pay much attention to these differentials, because I was in charge of the luggage side of things for the software, not of the hardware.
Q Thank you very much indeed.
LORD SUTHERLAND: Mr. Davidson.
MR. DAVIDSON: No questions, My Lord.
LORD SUTHERLAND: Advocate Depute.
RE-EXAMINATION BY MR. TURNBULL:
Q Can I ask you one more thing, please,
Mrs. Erac. Whose job was it to set the time on the computer in the morning?
A Well, it was the operators when we started the computers.
Q Did you sometimes do it?
A Yes, almost every morning, either my colleague or myself.
Q When you were doing it, where did you get the time to enter into the computer?
A Well, from the clock in the computer, or
sometimes from my watch. But that was identical, really. I presume, anyway.
Q Was there another computer, then, apart
from the one that you were setting the time for?
A Well, I'd like to know exactly what computer you are referring to when you refer to this other computer.
Q You mentioned, I think, getting the time from the clock in the main computer; is that correct?
A Well, in the central computer we entered the time, and the central computer then transmitted the time to the KIK computer, or the other computers.
Q I see. Thank you.
LORD SUTHERLAND: Thank you, Mrs. Erac. That's all."
The following is the full testimony, before the special Scottish Court at Camp Zeist , of Frankfurt Airport employee Bogomira Erac. This somewhat short discussion is extracted from Day 47 (of 86 days) of the full digital transcripts I just received copies of. Transcripts: Day 47, 30 August 2000, pages 6659-6671 (re-formatted with page numbers marking page breaks)