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Old 21st Apr 2012, 09:03   #1 (permalink)
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Jail terms in Athens for four people for the 'Helios' accident.

The below is from a Cypriot newspaper today and basically says that three managers / manager pilots and an engineer have been found guilty for manslaughter and will be given jail sentences of about 10 years.

Interestingly it says that the First Officer was 'weak in executing procedures' and 'the accused should not let him fly the aircraft' !!! It also says something similar for the captain.

A GREEK court yesterday sentenced three executives and an engineer from defunct Helios airline to 10 years in jail – pending an appeal – for the 2005 crash, which killed all 121 passengers and crew on board.
The four, Helios’ managing director Demetris Pantazis, flight operations manager Giorgos Kikkides, Bulgarian chief pilot Ianko Stoimenov and chief British engineer Alan Irwin, were found guilty of negligent manslaughter, a misdemeanor.
The court rejected a proposal that would have allowed the defendants to buy their way out of jail. Under Greek law, people convicted of certain crimes can convert jail sentences into fines.
The defence said it appealed the verdict.
The defendants were not present yesterday but they posted a €10,000 bail each to remain free until the appeal is heard.
The trial in Greece – the site of the crash -- began in December 2011, shortly after a three-judge criminal court in Cyprus had acquitted – by majority decision -- all five defendants charged in connection with the charge.
Apart from Pantazis, Kikkides, and Stoimenov, Cypriot authorities had also charged Helios executive chairman Andreas Drakos and Helios as a legal entity with manslaughter. But they had not charged Irwin.
The Attorney-general has appealed the Criminal Court’s decision.
“It is good that there are some guilty parties here, because in Cyprus no one was found guilty,” said Sophia Charalambous, wife of the ill-fated flight’s co-pilot Pambos Charalambous, 51.
The charge sheet in Cyprus said the two pilots were unfit to fly the aircraft and that Helios knew or should have known about this.
“This did not appear (in the Greek court). For us it was good because our own was not to blame,” Charalambous said in Athens, referring to her husband. .
Charalambous suggested political interests had played a role in the decision of the Cypriot court.
“We do not think it is right to put the responsibility on two dead men,” she said.
Eleni Alexandri, the mother of one victim, appeared somewhat satisfied but said that the trial (in Greece) should have been held at a criminal court and not a magistrate’s court, which cannot impose more than 10 years.
“They know very well that all these people are guilty and it is a shame that the trial took place at a magistrate’s court,” Alexandri said.
Lawyers representing the relatives in Athens said it was a fair and correct decision, affording the bereaved some degree of satisfaction for the first time in some seven years.
“Nothing can reverse their loss, given that human life cannot be measured in money, neither can it be covered by court decisions,” said attorney Apostolos Pantos.
The defence said it would fight the verdict, which they considered “wrong”.
It was not clear yesterday if the Greek court’s decision would have any bearing on the appeal procedure here, which is set to kick off in Nicosia next month.
“If the Supreme Court rejects the Attorney-general’s appeal, then Cyprus’ decision will become irrevocable, thus various issues will come up,” with the main one being whether the Greek court’s decision could be enforced, said Constantinos Mavroides, a lawyer for the relatives.
“But that is something that we will deal with in the course of things.”
The August 14 crash of flight ZU522 was the deadliest aviation disaster in Greece and Cyprus. The Boeing 737-300 slammed into a hillside at Grammatikos, near Athens, killing all 115 passengers and six crew.
In an October 2006 report on the crash, Greek investigators cited human error as the main cause of the crash, saying the pilots had left cabin pressure controls at an incorrect setting.
Passengers and crew were starved of oxygen due to problems in the cabin pressurisation, while the aircraft subsequently crashed into the hill after running out of fuel.
The report also cited Boeing for “ineffectiveness of measures”, since the same alarm was used for two different problems, resulting in the pilots misinterpreting the information.
A 2006 independent inquiry into the crash found that although the pilots were directly responsible for the crash, the airline as well as civil aviation officers were criminally liable.
The full findings of the inquiry, carried out by former judge Panayiotis Kallis, were only made public in December last year.
The 170-page report had been placed under the care of the Cabinet, the body that appointed the panel, and kept from the public eye since.
The panel was appointed back in 2006 to investigate both the underlying and immediate causes of the crash.

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LNAV VNAV - is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st Apr 2012, 13:23   #2 (permalink)
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Interesting - neither pilot fit to fly the aircraft?? Was a transcript of the CVR released? If so, where can it be found?
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 13:39   #3 (permalink)
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Was a transcript of the CVR released?
Not sure there would be much to hear; seeing as the crew and passengers were all unconscious for much of the flight!
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 14:03   #4 (permalink)
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This may be of interest,my apologies if it has been posted before in relation to this thread."http://www.youtube.com/v/fC0aAY6oIjM...ilpage"><param
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 14:15   #5 (permalink)
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@Out Of Trim: I appreciate your point, but it was a serious question, as it would be interesting to listen to (uhh... read) how the flight preceding the excess cabin altitude was conducted (e.g. was it disorganized, organized chaos, or a textbook case of proper CRM?), particularly during the ground portion where the pressurization would be set up/checked.
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 14:48   #6 (permalink)
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A copy of the report can be read at http://homepages.pathfinder.gr/aas/Helios522.zip. u
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 14:55   #7 (permalink)
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ECAM - read the thread?
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 15:00   #8 (permalink)
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Isn't only the last 30mins saved?

Recording only begins at 1st engine start, no?
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 15:51   #9 (permalink)
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I think the main issue here is whether a manager can legally assume that if the pilots have their licenses and have done their sim checks/ CRM courses/ technical questionaires and all the other staff professional pilots have to do these days, they are 'suitable' to operate an aircraft.

These pilots had some bad comments in sim checks apparently (who hasn't ?) and some unfavourable reports from their colleagues. But they had completed all the required tests succesfully in the end, i.e., no-one was flying without all the licences and signatures as far as I know.

So after the accident someone can say that they shouldn't be flying because they didn't handle a problem well and the result was an accident. But how was one to know or decide before the accident? How many bad comments can declare a pilot 'unsuitable' if he passes the test in the end?!!

Last edited by LNAV VNAV -; 22nd Apr 2012 at 19:26.
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 16:01   #10 (permalink)
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EK-Professional, nowadays two hour recordings are the norm and with the right tools the investigators are often able to unearth even more. Should be in the report which version they had, 30 min or two hours.
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 20:01   #11 (permalink)
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The charge sheet in Cyprus said the two pilots were unfit to fly the aircraft and that Helios knew or should have known about this
Confusing the meaning of the intermittent horn did occur before Helios.Several times.On paper, its a surprisingly simple and basic error for a flight crew to make.But it happened.The precedents mean the crew can not be characterized as "unfit".Pilot error is pilot error.And they have already paid the ultimate price.We should leave it at that.I studied the case and saw no real indication of company malaise.It was a one-off.A freak accident.
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 20:18   #12 (permalink)
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A freak accident!? Are you mad?
The phrase "freak accident" implies that it happened by chance, out of the control of the people involved. Is that really what you are suggesting?
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 21:51   #13 (permalink)
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Leaving the controller in manual during your pre flight checks then not checking pressurization at all during the climb and misinterpreting the cabin horn for the take off config while already in flight hardly seems like a one off "freak accident" to me.
Too many crashes over the last few years caused by complete lack of airmanship and ability, this would be one of them imho.
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 22:08   #14 (permalink)
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Engineer did his job, maintenance manual at the time did not specify returning the control to Auto. "Nice to know/ please do", No more than that, I am sure he wished he had, he does not deserve a jail sentence for this.
Capt, if I remember from a previous company, was not regarded as "ace of the base", but he passed all mandatory checks, as , I assume, did the FO. The guy who employed/approved their employment ? does he deserve a jail sentence ? I think not.
Finally, we can all have a "dull" moment, or a "dull" day, I have, early in my career, f*cked up a bleeds-off TO, we felt it in our ears, these guys didn't. We retreived the situation, they didn't. . . .am I smarter than them ? nope, I was lucky, I didn't "****-up" so badly to be found out/cause the masks to drop, but I did (royally) screw up. . .not proud, hands up Mea Culpa

There but for the grace of God etc.

Boeing (finally) acknowledged their "imperfections", I also, acknowledged mine, hopefully the Helios accident was public enough that it will never happen again.

Met the PIC, nice guy.
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 22:35   #15 (permalink)
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I know very little about this case, but I would like to add -

Is ruining four peoples' lives really justified in this instance?
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 23:21   #16 (permalink)
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Greetings All. I was registered here as TRIM-RUN but have not logged in in a long time.I have also changes my email address so can not recover my password, apologies to the moderators.

When I was a young engineer many years ago I had the pleasure and privilege of working with Alan Irwin. I was a fresh kid with my first type rating on my ticket nervous as hell about my first day on the job in a new company and country. Alan could see this and took me under his arm and brought the best out of me just like he had done with many guys before me and no doubt after me. His understanding of aircraft systems is second to none and there is no snag he can't rectify. Anyone who knows him will agree with me.

I am sick to my stomach with todays news and really can't believe it. I hope he is not in Greece but knowing him he probably is.

Personally I would warn any young guys or girls from ever getting into aircraft maintenance, you spend your life including nights and weekends pushing tin around the pan and chasing snags just to get shafted for doing your best.

Now I sell aircraft spare parts and make more a year than I did in fifteen years swinging spanners put together and thats the truth. anyone want an A+P and Part66 ticket ? screw it I will burn them instead.

Keep the faith mate.
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Old 21st Apr 2012, 23:25   #17 (permalink)
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He "failed" to reset a switch to the normal position. It was not mentioned in the maintenance schedule he should do so, he didn't, the pilots didn't check/notice. . . . . ultimately? pilots fault . . .spoken as a pilot. (nice if he had done so, but, who flies the damn thing/breathes (or not) if it is wrongly set?)
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Old 22nd Apr 2012, 00:44   #18 (permalink)
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The legal proceedings here are all a bit 'third world', as is the way with many legal actions in Greece. Rather than conduct a sensible investigation to ensure it does not happen again, the route of many third world nations is to go for litigation and 'heads on poles' - you must always have a scapegoat after all. I am reminded of a similar approach to the biz jet colliding with the 737 over Brazil as another similar example of mishandling accident investigations.

As others have stated, if a pilot has passed his checks even after remedial training then he is 'fit to fly'. We can never go down the route of canning a pilot because he failed a check in order to pre-empt a crash. Clearly if there is a pattern and the individual shows no signs of responding to training, then that is a different matter. There is always a balance here and there is no evidence that I have seen to tell me that these pilots were not competent to fly the aircraft. There is no doubt they made mistakes on the day (have we not all done that?), but that is very different to saying they were intrinsically incompetent.
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Old 22nd Apr 2012, 01:12   #19 (permalink)
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The investigation itself appears to be to a 1st world-country standard. The litigation side of things is a little different.

When are management finally liable for cutting costs in every area (apart from their own bonus schemes etc)? This may well rattle their cage and be a wake up call for every other goose out there that thinks they can keep cutting costs on training and safety, get away with it and claim to have increased efficiency.

The line has to be drawn somewhere and responsibilities must be accepted by those running the system. There is so much we can do when the system lets us down... I guess we could always leave..Perhaps.
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Old 22nd Apr 2012, 06:25   #20 (permalink)
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Well said Trim Run I have known And worked with Alan some 20 years and is one of the most knowledgable engineers I have meat
The Greek authorities have insufficient evidence to convict the engineer however
There has to be a scape goat for the the friends and families of the victims
This is nothing but a kangaroo court and I think time the UK CAA and the AAIB we're involved.
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