B737-300 Crash Claimed 121
Attorney General Petros Clerides of the nation of Cyprus has
announced that five people will face criminal charges in 2005
airliner crash that killed 121 people.
As ANN reported, the Helios Boeing 737-300
climbed to cruise altitude, was placed on autopilot... but then
flew on for more than two hours, eventually crashing into a rural
hillside outside Athens, Greece on August 14, 2005.
When the airliner entered Greek airspace and failed to respond
to calls, two Greek F-16s were scrambled to check it out. The
military pilots reported the captain's seat was empty, and a second
person was wrestling with the controls.
After a painstaking investigation, Greek officials reported the
Helios pilots had failed to recognize early warnings of a drop in
cabin pressure --
they believed the crew misinterpreted a cabin pressure
alarm as a takeoff configuration warning -- and had
failed to switch pressurization from manual to automatic in
The crew was eventually overcome by lack of oxygen.
Agence-France Presse reports relatives of victims have already
filed civil suits totalling $76 million US, targeting the Cypriot
government for allowing the airline to continue operating after it
should have had its licence revoked for failing to meet safety
The plaintiffs have also gone after Boeing, saying the company's
pressurization and onboard oxygen systems have not been revised
despite about 200 close calls in similar incidents in the past.
As for the criminal charges, Clerides announced, "We came to the
conclusion that from the evidence collected a criminal prosecution
is justified against several people whom we consider are
accountable for the plane crash." He said the indictments have not
yet been drafted.
Helios no longer exists. It was renamed Ajet Aviation before it
ceased flight operations in late 2006.