Wed, Aug 17, 2005
Same Aircraft Lost Cabin Pressure Last Year
The president of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos, told mourning
families Wednesday the crash of a Helios 737-300 in Greece Sunday
was "peculiar," saying there was only one other aviation mishap
like it to his knowledge. This, as the investigation into the
bizarre crash continued to turn up more questions than answers.
"This is a peculiar accident. From my information sources there
has only been one other of this kind," he said after meeting Greek
officials Wednesday. Papadopoulos was quoted by Reuters.
He was apparently referring to the 1999 crash of a
Learjet involving PGA golfer Payne Stewart. As ANN has extensively
reported, Stewart and five other people died when their Lear 35
apparently lost cabin pressure on a flight from Orlando to Dallas.
The aircraft, trailed by Oklahoma and North Dakota ANG F-16s,
eventually ran out of fuel and crashed in North
In the Helios mishap, many of the 121 passengers and crew,
however, didn't die before impact, according to coroners' reports.
Autopsies on the bodies of the copilot and a flight attendant
indicated they were still breathing when the aircraft impacted the
But mysteries abound. Where was the pilot? He wasn't in the
cockpit at the time of impact, according to investigators. His body
has yet to be found. Why didn't the crew immediately descend once
they started losing cabin pressure? Why did crew members apparently
disregard oxygen masks dangling just above them?
Cypriot authorities, meanwhile, were contemplating criminal
charges against Helios executives. The airline admitted Wednesday
that the same 737-300 had lost cabin pressure once before,
approximately a year ago. Search teams have recovered the flight
data recorder and parts of the cockpit voice recorder. Both have
been taken to France for examination.
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