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Sun, Sep 04, 2005

Report: Greek ATC Failed To Properly Acknowledge Doomed Helios Flight

Two Controllers Face Negligence Charges

The Greek Civil Aviation Authority has ruled two air-traffic controllers on duty when a Helios Airways B737 crashed three weeks ago should face negligence charges, for failing to acknowledge the jet for as long as one hour after it entered Greek air space -- despite warnings the flight was experiencing problems.

According to Greece's Kathimerini newspaper, the Helios flight was properly confirmed on radar by Greek ATC, and was on course when the flight was handed off by Cypriot controllers on August 13.

However, an internal investigation revealed the controllers in Cyprus told their Greek counterparts that the plane was having problems.

Standard procedure would have required the two men on duty in Greece to attempt to make radio contact with the pilot of the 737.

No verbal contact with the plane was made until approximately one hour after the plane was handed off to Greek ATC. The airliner later crashed into a hillside north of Athens, killing all 121 people onboard.

The alleged negligence made no difference on the outcome of the crash, according to the Greek CAA. The report also cleared the rest of the ATC staff on duty at the time from any inappropriate or negligent behavior with regards to the crash.

It is believed that the 737's cabin depressurized shortly after takeoff, leading to a chain of events that brought the airliner down.



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