View Full Version : Helios Judge's Reasoning
27th Jun 2012, 06:53
It is time for all engineers to take action before they find themselves in prison.
The Greek judge has has given her reasons for banging up Alan Irwin for 123 years and has set the precendent that an engineer is responsible for configuring an aircraft for flight:
"Furthermore, the Court did not accept the arguments of the defendant that it was the pilotís sole responsibility to set the switch to the AUTO position, because the pilots have a number of obligations that are also obligations of the engineer."
The reasoning is 400 pages of similar ill informed rubbish which will probably not get a public airing.
How about boycotting all aircraft going into Greek airspace or belonging to Greek operators for a start.
27th Jun 2012, 11:58
Hi Snoop, This is ridiculous and shows the court took absolutely no consideration to the huge amount of information that was given to them which proved the original accident report was totally flawed.
The AIR report confirmed the switch position in Auto prior to the incident by the hot/cold rupture of the filaments in the P5 module. After the evidence given to the court by the variety of people acting for the defence it just shows the judiciary really had no idea of the basis of this case and were really just out for a scape-goat.
What they have managed to do is put the whole of the EASA license system into total disarray. In an incident of this nature, the 145 organisation Accountable Manager and Qa Manager should have been the people to be standing in the dock. They are the people responsible for issuing Alan's EASA 145 approval. Alan certified under a UK issued EASA 145 approval, hence the AM and QAM being ultimately responsible. Any follow on action should have been taken by the EASA145 organisation upon the engineer involved if found guilty of a misdemeanor. Thats the basis of the EASA 145 approval system and why we all certify under a company issued approval.
What the court have managed to do is find Alan guilty (?) based on his own signature and evidence. Basically if you now certify any documentation you are taking the responsiblility for these actions under your own auspice and any protection under EASA145 is now taken away.
Basically every aircraft now flying is flying illegally. The CRS's are now invalid as all CRS's are certified under an EASA145 approval number. Maybe someone might like to point this information out to the aviation industry!
Why bother with the licence/approval system at all in this case?
For every engineer like myself, this has huge ramifacations for the aviation industry thanks to a team of judges in Greece who have shown they don't/didn't understand the complexities of the case and refused to consider accurate and credible evidence when put before them.
Maybe, now the UK CAA would really like to become involved because I would like to know whats going to happen if I certify an aircraft in the near future, it has an incident and which court I should be attending.(I may need to book leave from work)
We had a very safe system and it's now wide open.
This investigation must be reopened and any verdict must be delayed from being enforced until that reinvestigation is completed. I just hope the Greeks don't issue a European arrest warrant and the UK government just pass him on based on an inaccurate and flawed criminal case.
My thoughts go out to Alan and await to see the next step.
27th Jun 2012, 15:36
...The AIR report confirmed the switch position in Auto prior to the incident by the hot/cold rupture of the filaments in the P5 module. ...
The AIR says that the switch was in the MAN position. (page 81)
27th Jun 2012, 16:16
Bloody bonkers if you ask me.
Ok the Aircraft should have been configured after maintenance, but lets remember the Captain still has to ACCEPT his/hers aircraft after the preflight checks.
Plus to take into consideration the utter confusion with the Master Warning screaming at them, plus the duff gen they were receiving from there Airline Ops Centre.
Alan im afraid is a scapegoat and it is very worrying as a Certifier of large aircraft that we will receive no support from the UK CAA or the Government if something craps out.
Off topic a bit here sorry
I think we should leave EASA as its a big pile of rubbish anyway.
The recent crises in the Eurozone is down to the ideology a european union with developing economies cooking the balance books and writing cheques they can't cash to make the membership criteria.
If that is at a government treasury level what corners are being cut in the Aircraft Maintenance to make the grade satisfying EASA.
A fallout beyond all comprehension.
C'mon CAA show some backbone for Alan.
28th Jun 2012, 06:39
In the 7 years that this has been going on no-one has ever presented any evidence that Alan left the switch in MAN - it is assumed that he did because he was the last person who admitted touching it! There is compelling evidence to show that he could not have left it in MAN but this was rejected by the court, for no other reason than that it was given by non-Greeks.
You don't have to have done anything wrong to be found guilty by the Greeks, just to have been there!
Evidence given by Greeks was accepted without reservation, that by non-Greeks was either ignored or distorted. There are several places in the judge's reasoning where statements beneficial to the prosecution are attributed to defence witnesses, however the witness quoted never said it.
Let CAA know how you feel - it's your life at stake, and that of untold numbers of aircrew and passenger whose safety has been affected by this crass decision.
4th Jul 2012, 09:16
Having spent the greater part of my career as a Flight Engineer, It was drilled into all crew to treat every aircraft as just left the hanger, to scan all the panels to ensure ALL switches were in the correct position prior to engine start. The ground engineer in this instance may or may not have left the Pressurization controller in MANUAL. We will never know
This is not the point.....it seems to me to point to negligence on behalf of the Flight Crew, not the first time a crew member has made a mistake!
I remember in the early days of my career reading about a DC8 crew being imprisoned after departing the runway upon landing at Athens. The result of incorrect weather broadcast from the airport about runway conditions!
This country is still in the middle ages regards some of its laws.
I am now a self employed Ground Engineer and carry a large part of my flying thought processes in to my present position, heaven forbid should I ever make a mistake whilst in Greece!
6th Dec 2012, 19:08
IFixPlanes reply 27/06/12
Sorry you are wrong. The A.I.R. report came to the conclusion that the available physical evidences are "definitive" and "unambiguous" in demonstrating that the Mode Selection Switch Knob was "forceably rotated" from its pre-impact position at the "AUTO" detent, and was then crushed into its final at-rest "BEYOND MANUAL" position. para 5.11 of A.I.R. report 09 May 2012. THIS EXONERATES ENGINEER ALAN IRWIN COMPLETELY. He should be found "NOT GUILTY" immediately. Unfortunately today (6th December 2012) the appeal court appeared not to accept that the conclusions of the original accident report were wrong and that there was new evidence for a re-opening of the accident investigation. All those working on aircraft that fly to Greece be warned - it could be you next.
A and C
6th Dec 2012, 20:02
As a Captain currently flying the B737 I except that the position of any switch on the flight deck is my ultimately my responsibility, it is simply part of my pre flight checks.
As an AML holder I was so concerned with original ruling that I contacted my MP with the aim of getting some support for Alan's case but this has achieved very little ( I suspect that with HS2 planned to run through the constituency he thinks he has bigger fish to fry).
The fact that the Greeks have failed to understand that this latest ruling fails to take account of all the evidence and is built on previous evidence gathered in direct conflict with ICAO and EEC protocol shows that the Greek justice system is unfit to meet the standards required for an EEC member state.
I need a little more information about the latest court case but as soon as I can put something together I think it is time to launch something at my euro MP's.
I would hope that a few more of you will also take the time to write to your MP's both at Westminster & Brussels because this is the only way that the Greeks will understand that they are simply not upholding the standards of evidence required of an EEC state.
6th Dec 2012, 22:38
...A.I.R. report 09 May 2012. ...
John, can you give me a link to this AIR?
6th Dec 2012, 23:02
It shouldn't matter how an engineer (cleaner, pilot, cabin crew) leaves any switch in the flight deck. It's the flight crew's job to notice incorrect selections and do something about it (but leaving the oil filler off caps is different). But in the Helios case a knob of a captain and an incompetent F/O failed to appropriate deal with one of Mr. Boeing's many little "gotchas" before and during flight.
This judge is doing the wrong job. But there again, this is becoming typical for this country. Corrupt officials, criminal politicians and a totally pathetic judiciary. No wonder they haven't got a pot to p!ss in.
7th Dec 2012, 02:44
BUT.........................they did give the world tragedy. :suspect:
7th Dec 2012, 08:29
I don't have a link to the above report. I have searched via Google and can only find a reference to the A.I.R. company. I have a copy of the report because of my wife's invovment as a defence witness .
I have just put the whole report on a stick, and could send as an e-mail attachment, it to you if you let me know your e-mail address. It's 7 MB + !
Maybe, now the UK CAA would really like to become involved because I would
like to know whats going to happen if I certify an aircraft in the near future,
it has an incident and which court I should be attending.(I may need to book
leave from work)
Of course they should; they should have been right alongside Alan from the very start, as the issuer of his licence. They should have paid whatever it takes for lawyers to protect the integrity of the licences they issue. They should have involved the relevant Minister, even the Prime Minister, to make forceful representations to whatever passes for a Government in that God-forsaken country.
They did not do that, to no-one's surprise. And so the integrity (validity, even) of their licences, as well as of all EASA licences, in now in question. And a UK citizen is locked up in the hell-hole of incompetence and corruption that is Greece in 2012, because a Greek "judge" has zero understanding both of the law and the facts of the case. How much did she pay to get that job, I wonder?
Will the CAA do anything remotely constructive and effective? No, of course they won't; too busy with the tea, pension plan and leaving to become a "consultant", even if they had the competence to understand properly what has happened, which it seems they do not.
7th Dec 2012, 11:19
Having sat in the Greek court yesterday and listened to 3 experts in their field prove beyond all reasonable doubt that Helios was a safe airline with established procedures and an acclaimed world expert in the field of accident investigation conclusively prove that the PMS switch was in Auto when the aircraft took off via forensic examination of the faceplate of the P5 panel what did the Greeks do???? Tried to rubbish any claims contrary to the Greek report and then try and swing any blame on the NTSB. The 2 investigators from the NTSB who assisted the Greek AASIB have been shown the AIR evidence and immediatly concluded the Greek report was flawed and so informed the Greek AASIB.
I sat there yesterday to see 3 judges (one of whom spent half the case asleep) try and discredit the 3 experts on the stand, the prosecution didn't have an answer and the only person who seemed to register anything was wrong was the prosecution judge who took notice of the animations, evidence and the questions Alan raised to the investigation team at the time of the reports issuance.
This case is drawing to a close but as engineers we now have to be accutely aware the UKCAA are not interested in supporting anyone involved in an incident and this will put accident investigation back many years. Would any engineer now comply with the accident investigation now any information given will be used to incriminate him whether it's right or wrong?? The answer is No!
Sooner or later, this case will be reopened and the information is that the NTSB are looking seriously at the new evidence and the case will be re-examined. My only hope is the authors of this entirely flawed report are totally discredited with the industry and shown to be the incompetant fools they really are.
However, it may not help Alan in the short term but it's something we should all bear in mind next time we renew our EASA/CAA licences and a concern to us all.
7th Dec 2012, 17:20
Feel for the guy, just a scape goat to make some people happy and put the blame on the little guy.
Where are the owners of Helios in all this, if Paul was accused of leaving the switch in the wrong position cause he is the last one who touched it, one could argue, if Helios hadn't bought and Boeing made the airplane the switch wouldn't have been in the wrong position.
What about the switch manufacturer he should also be in jail if only just for the fact he made a switch with more than one position.
Might as well blame Orville too if he had stayed on the ground we still be flying balloons, :ugh:
12th Dec 2012, 08:27
Supreme Court orders retrial in Helios case - Cyprus Mail (http://m.cyprus-mail.com/attorney-general/supreme-court-orders-retrial-helios-case/20121212)
13th Dec 2012, 20:59
"As the Cypriot court observes " It is understood that the complexity and scope of the case will entail additional time and cost, however the public interest is such that it must prevail, in order that proper and effective justice be served" However how exactly are the defendants to pay for the proper presentation of their defence for what will be the 4th time in what is a highly complex case (Twice in Cyprus and twice in Greece).And if they cannot, then how will a retrial deliver proper and effective justice?
The fact that trials for the same matters are even permissible in two European countries makes a mockery of Union. The need for a "moral vindication" speaks volumes about the motivations of those involved in the prosecution- and ignores that in life there are sometimes accidents."is one of the comments.Very well said.If there was a term "triple jeopardy" it would describe this ridiculous decision. It's a shame for law and aviation .Feel free to go there and comment.
7th Feb 2013, 21:24
I know this is already covered in rumours & news, But i'm sure a mention here wouldn't go amiss.
Alan has finally been acquitted today. Hopefully he can now draw a line under the dreadful last few years and move on.
Bulgaria: Greek Appeals Court Upholds Bulgarian Pilot Guilty Verdict - Novinite.com - Sofia News Agency (http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=147650)
8th Feb 2013, 07:03
That is terrific news, thanks for posting.
Great news but shameful that it has taken this long to achieve and dragged someones name and reputation through the mud in the process, and that is in no way meant to disrespect those who lost their lives.
Now is the time for a forensic examination of the role played by the UK CAA, who issued Alan's licence, in this shameful episode.
It may be that behind the scenes they were exerting every pressure they could, via EASA, the European Commission, the UK Government, to protect and support a UK citizen, and uphold the integrity of the licence they issued.
Or maybe not. Forgive my cynicism. If they did do all that, I apologise.
If they did not, senior figures need to explain why, starting with the Chairman and CEO, if they can be diverted for a few moments from Safety Management seminars and chocolate bar manufacturing safety.
I follow this discussion now since weeks, and I apologize not stepping in earlier.
Gents, you discussed POO SMELL in an A330 , but important things You never speak out.
British CAA will never take action, as long as HELIOS QA will not raise an inquiry, check PART 66 B. And dealing with the brits for licences of my staff, as long no one pays the bill, they will not bother.
Fact 1: every one is responsible for his own license
Fact 2: a Part 66 is only workable in a PART 145 enviroment
Fact 3 there was a terrible accident
Was Alan guilty, no from my side, and I will state this in an official document as approved expert once required. Was maintenance guilty ?
YES, and for the following reasons:
Like sheeps, you are following every down cutting in your company. If passeneger would know, where they are sitting in, they would not fly.
Pilots and Stewardesses are striking, where are you my fellow ENGINEERS ?
Do you know, that in Management courses for 145 , they teach 0.5 Engineers per AC ? Do you know that EK is at 0.2, LH at the same and BA, where are you ?
No one will help you if you dont help yourself.
Just my 2 cents
Although stated in relatively poor english - I think your message comes across quite clear and very strong.
In UK engineers have always been "every man for himself" instead of "united" like cabin and cockpit crew mostly are. However. Unwritten terms and conditions for UK engineers don't exactly lend themselves to being militant and meek complaints don't make much noise when money talks.
There is an expectation in UK that engineers won't let the operators down and that they all make do with their lot. This happens to a certain extent - and then, all of a sudden, some engineers leave for better pay/conditions or perhaps for a perceived better treatment by bosses!
It may sound ludicrous but, for most, it works. (but we're still not quire sure how?)
10th Feb 2013, 04:45
Sorry for my poor english :cool: thought I improved .
It is not the UK or European Industry I'm worried about, it is the general down turn of our terms and conditions as Engineers.
It is getting more and more difficult to get a license, a type rating and an authorization, not even speaking about a proper paid job.
CAA's dont care actually once you have a license, and there will be no support.
You are alone responsible for your license under all circumstances.
How much a newbie has to pay now for a license ? 30K ? Typerating ? 25K ? and what does he earn ?
Just another 2 cents.
10th Feb 2013, 09:13
Good for Alan but still a shame for Aviation!!! Three professionals were dragged from one Court to other in two EU countries simultaneously and convicted for a crime they didn't do. And all based on a hypothetical inadequate Greek final report. They were blamed for allowing two "incompetent"pilots to execute the flight.How could incompetent judges decide the competence of two properly licensed and trained ,medically fit pilots.These two pilots had thousands of hours experience in different airlines.They were trained and examined by different examiners and they passed.What criteria was used in this kangaroo court to put a blame on the three people accused?
13th Feb 2013, 08:57
It is really good news that Alan has been aquitted, however, the court still seems to be of the opinion that he left the PMS in MAN despite there being no evidence to support this.
It is interesting that while Alan has all along rightly received overwhelming support from his fellow engineers and a heap of drivers, the CEO and the two management pilots have had little or no support from fellow managers in this or any other forum! Keeping their corporate heads below the parapet no doubt.
As UK CAA was mentioned, they were responsible for the safety oversight of Helios and had recommended continuance of the AOC only two months prior to the accident. There was nothing wrong with the way helios was run, so let's have a few management meerkats poking their heads out of their cosy burrows and boycotting anything Greek in support of Demetris, Ianko and George.
13th Feb 2013, 13:08
h3dxb I appreciate where you are coming from but things are more complex than you make out...
Comparing Engineers to Pilots and Cabin Crew is fine but don't forget that the general management philosophy everywhere is that Engineers are a necessary evil! This is hardly a good starting point from our perspective. Yes, as has been mentioned a lot (but not all) Engineers are simply in it for themselves! However, for things to seriously change we need to have things like mandated maximum working hours (which isn't going happen anytime soon!)
I'd disagree that obtaining a license is harder than ever these days. Pre EASA, some of us remember scratching around for revision material, penalty marking, orals (and taking the exams for a whole BCAR category in one sitting!) These days, you can choose between of plethora of web based question banks to use as "study" aids and there are plenty of JAR147 courses to choose from with in-house exams to knock off those modules!
Some of the licensed guys being churned out today simply want to earn big money within the shortest possible time. They forget that holding & exercising approvals on large transport aircraft involves a level of experience & responsibility which can and should take a few years to acquire! The Spanair and Helios accident reports should be made compulsory reading!
16th Feb 2013, 07:23
The management of Helios Airways were found guilty; check out your own favourite airline against this.
The AAIASB Report found that the Flight and Cabin crew were medically fit, well rested and qualified (OED - trained and competent) to conduct the flight.
The aircraft had a current C of A and carried no defects.
Safety oversight was by UK CAA
No significant deficiencies were noted in audits and the UK CAA Inspector recommended continuance of the Helios Airways AOC on 5 June 2005.
It doesn't get much better than that, so what are they guilty of?
16th Feb 2013, 10:43
Nicely put. I tried a post but deleted it as it just wasn't good enough.
Your comment on engineers being seen as a necessary evil strikes a chord.
Management seem unable to grasp the fact that a good committed engineering department actually saves them money.
I offer the following as an example. 737-700 nosewheel steering lockout handle sticks in the aircraft towing position.
Usual answer was to replace the steering metering unit. This was often after a serious delay involving getting an engineer on site. On one occasion there were 3 occurences on three different aircraft in one day.
Two engineers on the night shift work out a fix that takes 30 minutes and can be accomplished on the line with the only spare required being a split pin!!!!!
Cost saving to the airline millions, reward to engineers involved not even a thanks.
Another example being a senior manager who told the engineering staff that his statistics said that the aircraft availability they were achieving was impossible!!!!!!!
A committed experienced workforce pays for itself and reduces airline cost and therefore increaces profits. You have to ask why the engineering departments in many organisations are treated so badly when they are so important to commercial success.
Could be that the bean counters know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
Long Bay Mauler
16th Feb 2013, 11:40
Well said ericferret :D
16th Feb 2013, 13:52
If they could, all airlines would hire aircraft like cars and dump them every night to pick up a new one in the morning. No maintenance activity what-so-ever. Just drive - and keep driving.
Lets face it...We don't like our cars to be worked on either.
But in MROs that are allowed to cover other airline contracts - profits can be made that actually support the airline losses.
Yes. Maintenance is a necessary evil.