Open wounds seventeen years after the Helios Airways Boeing 737-31S crash..
Speaking to ThemaOnline.com, Niki Michailidou, a member of the Committee of Relatives of the “Helios” Victims, said that after all these years the pain remains, but also a huge “why?”… “Why didn’t anyone pay the responsibility? Why has no one taken responsibility for this tragic event that claimed the lives of 121 of our loved ones? We have been carrying this open wound for 17 years,” he noted.
The strength they have found to carry on with their lives is indescribable. “We have found the strength and the way to bury this pain, without tears, because the pain has become our strength and shows us the way to move forward,” said Niki Michailidou.
Memorial at the Grammatiko Attica
Today, Sunday, August 14, 2022 at 9:30 a.m. the 17th memorial service for the victims of the tragic plane crash was held in the presence of relatives at the Chapel of the Dormition of the Theotokos, at Grammatiko Attica. Moreover, each family will hold their own memorial services in churches in Cyprus.
The memorial service will be celebrated by the Most Reverend Metropolitan George of New Guinea, representative of the Patriarchate of Alexandria in Athens. The Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus in Athens Kyriakos Kenevezos will attend.
The flight time
The Boeing 737-31S, continued at 12:04 in the afternoon of August 14 at Grammatiko Attica, after departing from Larnaca airport at 09:07 in the morning to the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague, with a stopover at Athens airport, Eleftherios Venizelos.
A stop which never took place as fate had other plans for the passengers.
At around 10:15 in the morning, the aircraft entered the interior of Athens, without however making contact with air traffic controllers possible.
They were immediately ordered by the Chief G.E.E.T.A. to take off fighters to locate the passenger aircraft.
At 11:05 two F-16 fighters took off from Nea Aghialo and at 11:18 they came into visual contact with the aircraft. It was then determined that the co-pilot was unconscious, the captain was out of his seat while the oxygen supply system with masks was activated and the airplane was flying on autopilot.
At 11:41 the pilots of the two F-16s reported that they saw flight attendant Andreas Prodromou, in the cockpit and trying to regain control of the aircraft.
Fuel then began to run out, with the left engine failing at 11:50, followed by the right engine at 12:00, with the aircraft crashing in the mountainous area of Grammatiko in northern Attica at 12:04.
Of the passengers, 67 would disembark in Athens and the rest would continue their journey to Prague.
Autopsies revealed that all of them were alive at the time of the crash, but it was not known whether they were conscious, and toxicology tests did not show any substance they may have inhaled or ingested.
What did the result show?
Fourteen months after the Boeing crash, the conclusion of the Hellenic Commission for the Investigation of Accidents and Flight Safety was made public.
The causes of the fall:
- Joint responsibility to the engineers who checked the aircraft for the last flight and the aircraft operators of flight HCY522, for correcting the settings – mainly the manual setting on the compression regulator.
It is noted that for the same issue, Boeing has already accepted that in the binding manuals of the engineers and the specific type of aircraft there was no clear indication to place the switch in “manual”. Also in the Conclusion, what was in the instructions of the corresponding manual of the operators in the particular airplane is examined.
- Responsibility to the operators, for not taking timely corrective actions based on the warnings they received, but taking into account what became known about the “double” sound warnings and indications, which also after the plane tragedy Boeing changed. The result was that the operators were overcome by the symptoms of hypoxemia in a short time and were not in control.
- The crew action system and communication between operators in the cockpit and flight attendants in the passenger cabin (CRM), which did not provide for any training on actions, in the event of a serious incident such as falling oxygen masks, despite the fact that for hours after the aircraft it did not proceed in the intended direct descent and continued its course at the same height.
- The final cause of the fall, as a consequence of the previous ones, was the stoppage of the engines due to a lack of fuel.
The court decision
On February 18, 2013, the Criminal Court of Nicosia acquitted all the defendants of all charges in the case of the fatal plane crash on August 14, 2005, in Attica, at Grammatico Attica, an accident that resulted in the death of 121 people.
The discharge was made after suspension of the criminal prosecution registered by the General Prosecutor’s Office for all the accused natural persons and the airline “Helios”.
The accused were the Executive Chairman of “Helios” Andreas Drakos and the Managing Director of the same company Dimitris Pantazis, as well as the Flight Director Giorgos Kikkidis and the Bulgarian chief pilot of the company Yanko Stoimenov.
The Court of Appeal of Athens had upheld the conviction imposed in the first instance by the Three-member Misdemeanor Court, with its decision of February 7, 2013. Their sentence, 122 years in prison for each, had been changed to a ten-year sentence and subsequently to a fine. After paying approximately 73 thousand euros, they were released.
Based on the principle that no one is tried by two countries for the same crime, the three were expected to be removed from the Cypriot indictment. The Attorney General ruled that the prosecution should be stayed for all the accused citing insurmountable difficulties in advancing the case.
The Council of Ministers decided on the payment of financial aid on September 13, 2016, totaling approximately 3 million euros, to a total of 32 persons (9 of whom were minors at the time), relatives of the victims of the “Helios” air tragedy.
The decision of the Council of Ministers was taken following a recommendation of the Committee for the Monitoring of Humanitarian Issues and taking into account the special socio-economic situations faced by a number of relatives of the victims of the tragedy of August 14, 2005, from the fall of the aircraft of the company “Helios Airways Ltd”, who had suffered financial losses following the Eurogroup decision in March 2013.