Cypriot court begins Greek air disaster trial
Thursday, September 17, 2009
A court in Cyprus has begun the trial of defunct airline Helios and four managers over an air disaster in Greece. The five are facing a total of 1,190 charges after Flight 522 went down near Athens in 2005, killing 121 people.
All defendants entered not guilty pleas, and are alleged by prosecutors to have operated their business in an unsafe manner. It is alleged that the flight should never have been allowed to take off. As well as the company, executive chairman Andreas Drakos, managing director Demetris Pantazis, operations manager George Kikkides and head pilot Ianko Stoimenov will face a full trial when proceedings are resumed on November 27. They will return to the Nicosia court then. The charges include manslaughter and causing death via a careless act.
The F-16 pilots reported the airliner's pilots were slumped over the controls. After flying on autopilot for two hours the aircraft crashed near Athens despite the efforts of a flight attendant, who was training to become a pilot, to take control and save the jet.
The subsequent investigation discovered that the pilots failed to adequately monitor the pressurisation system. The plane lost cabin pressure and hypoxia caused the incapacitation of the passengers and flight crew. It is thought that the conscious flight attendant had used multiple crew oxygen cylinders to outlast the others on board. Investigators also believe that the equipment had been left in the wrong setting after testing by maintenance engineers and never checked before flight.
After failing to resuscitate the pilot-in-command, the trainee pilot turned off the autopilot and attempted an emergency landing at Athens International Airport, which the aircraft had been circling in a holding pattern awaiting human input. However, the aircraft ran out of fuel before reaching the runway.
- "Cyprus charges five over 2005 air crash that killed 121" — Wikinews, December 23, 2008
- "Cyprus to charge five over 2005 plane crash that killed 121" — Wikinews, November 4, 2008
- "Coroner makes first post mortems of Athens airliner crash victims; text message was a hoax" — Wikinews, August 15, 2005
- Air Accident Investigation & Aviation Safety Board. "Aircraft Accident Report: Helios Airways Flight HCY522" — , November 2006 PDF (8.42MB)
- "Cyprus plane crash trial opens" — , September 17, 2009
- Sarah Ktisti and Janet Lawrence. "Airline Denies Charges Over 2005 Greek Crash" — , September 17, 2009