Greece Plane Crash Kills All 121 Aboard(unconscious pilot's)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Quigley_Sharps, Aug 14, 2005.

  1. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    GRAMMATIKO, Greece - A Cypriot airliner crashed into a hill north of Athens on Sunday, killing all 121 people on board. Reports said at least one of the pilots was unconscious when the plane went down, possibly from lack of oxygen in the cabin.

    The Helios Airways flight HCY 522 was headed from Larnaca, Cyprus, to Athens International Airport when it crashed at 12:20 p.m. near the town of Grammatiko, about 25 miles north of the Greek capital, leaving flaming debris and luggage strewn across a ravine and surrounding hills.

    The Boeing 737, carrying 115 passengers and six crew, was to have flown onto Prague, Czech Republic, after stopping in Athens.

    "The fire is still burning and there are no survivors," fire chief Christos Smetis said.

    The cause of the crash was unclear, but early indications were that it was a technical problem — possibly decompression — and not terrorism. The plane's black boxes, which contain flight data and voice recordings, had been recovered at the scene, state NET television reported.

    "The first indications, in Cyprus and in Greece, are that it was not caused by a terrorist act," said Marios Karoyian, a spokesman for President Tassos Papadopoulos.

    A man whose cousin was a passenger on the plane told Greece's Alpha television he received a cell-phone text message minutes before the crash. "He told me the pilots were unconscious. ... He said: "Farewell, cousin, here we're frozen," Sotiris Voutas said.

    Two F-16 fighter jets were sent out shortly after the plane entered Greek air space over the Aegean Sea and did not respond to radio calls — a standard Greek practice. As they intercepted the airliner shortly before it crashed, the jet pilots saw one of the pilots slumped unconscious over the controls, Alpha TV reported. They also reported that there was no movement in the cabin.

    Greek state television quoted Cyprus Transport Minister Haris Thrasou as saying the plane had decompression problems in the past.

    David Kaminski Morrow, deputy news editor of the British-based Air Transport Intelligence magazine, said depressurization is extremely serious because its effects happen so quickly.

    "If the aircraft is at 30,000 feet, you don't stay conscious for long, maybe 15 to 30 seconds. It is like standing on top of Mount Everest," he said. "But if you are down at 10,000 feet, you can breath for a lot longer."

    Airplane cabins are usually pressurized at 8,000 feet.

    Sudden loss of cabin pressure was blamed for a similar crash that took place in South Dakota on Oct. 25, 1999. A private Learjet 35 lost pressure, leaving pro golfer Payne Stewart and four others unconscious. The twin-engine jet went down in a pasture after flying halfway across the country on autopilot.

    In the Greek crash, the only piece of the plane that remained intact was the tail section. Bits of human flesh, clothing, and luggage were scattered around the wreckage, which also started brush fires around the area.

    Rescue helicopters flew overhead and firefighting planes swooped low to extinguish some of the fires. Fire trucks and ambulances crowded roads near the crash site and dark black smoke could be seen rising from various sites around the crash. A number of black-robed Greek Orthodox Christian were also on the scene.

    Rescue officials were also looking for the plane's two black boxes, two orange-colored devices that record data from the plane and the voices of the pilots in the cockpit. They are designed to survive crashes.

    "The Helios flight that crashed in the Athens area left Larnaca and was headed for Athens. The causes of the crash are not known," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said.

    Rescue workers and residents on the scene said they had not found any survivors.

    "There is wreckage everywhere. I am here, things here are very difficult, they are indescribable," Grammatiko Mayor George Papageorgiou said. "I am looking at back tail. The fuselage has been destroyed. It fell into a chasm and there are pieces. All the residents are here trying to help."

    The head of the Greek airline safety committee, Akrivos Tsolakis, described it as the "worst accident we've ever had."

    He speculated that there may have been a problem with the cabin pressure.

    "There apparently was a lack of oxygen, which is usually the case when the cabin is de-pressurized," Tsolakis said.

    Witnesses said they saw the plane being followed by the Greek air force jets when it crashed.

    Greek radio and television stations reported that the air force pilots saw no movement in the cockpit of the plane before the crash. There were some reports the two pilots seemed to be unconscious.

    "The plane crashed around 400 meters (yards) from homes in the area," said Miltiadis Merkouris, a spokesman for the Grammatiko municipality.

    Helios Airways was founded in 1999 as Cyprus' first private airline. It operates a fleet of Boeing 737 jets to cities including London; Athens; Sofia, Bulgaria; Dublin, Ireland; and Strasbourg, France.

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Caramanlis canceled a holiday on the Aegean island of Tinos to return to Athens to deal with the crash. Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos also canceled a vacation
  2. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

  3. TLynn

    TLynn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    It's a tragedy.

    But whats worse is that the plane was known to have decompression problems and still allowed to fly.
  4. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    Greece crash plane may already have been flying tomb

    ATHENS (Reuters) - A Cypriot airliner that crashed in Greece may already have been a flying tomb when it plunged to earth with some of the 121 people aboard already either dead or unconscious, early indications suggest.

    Sunday's crash, the worst air disaster in Greece and the worst involving a Cypriot airline, perplexed aviation experts astounded by what appeared to have been a catastrophic failure of cabin pressure and or oxygen supply at 35,000 feet -- nearly 10 kilometers (six miles) up, higher than Mount Everest.

    There was also mystery over the last minutes of the Helios Airlines Boeing 737 flight which was declared "renegade" when it entered Greek air space and failed to make radio contact, causing two F-16 air force jets to scramble to investigate.

    All 115 passengers and six crew died, most burned beyond visual recognition, when the plane, with neither pilot in control, spiraled down in a death dive into a mountainous area about 40 km north of Athens.

    The plane was on a flight from Larnaca in Cyprus to Prague with a stop in Athens. An airline spokeswoman and Greek authorities denied some media reports that many of those on board were children.

    Airport officials in Cyprus said flight HCY522 left Larnaca at 9 a.m. (0700 GMT) on Sunday and lost contact at 10:30 a.m.

    Greek Defense Ministry officials said 90 minutes elapsed between the alert first being raised at 10:30 a.m. and the plane crashing at 12:03 p.m.

    Greek government spokesman Theodore Roussopoulos said the F-16 pilots sent to investigate reported that with the pilots out of action there may have been a last-gasp effort by others on the plane to bring it back under control.

    "The situation was characterized renegade, meaning the aircraft was not under the control of the pilots," Roussopoulos told reporters, explaining how the crisis unfolded after the plane failed to make radio contact.

    "At a later stage, the F-16s saw two individuals in the cockpit seemingly trying to regain control of the airplane," Roussoupoulos said.

    "The F-16s also saw oxygen masks down when they got close to the aircraft. The aircraft was making continuous right-hand turns to show it had lost radio contact."

    A passenger on the doomed plane said in an SMS text to his cousin in Athens: "The pilot has turned blue. Cousin farewell, we're freezing."


    Reuters photographer Yannis Behrakis reported from the crash site that dozens of bodies were still strapped into their seats, some with the remnants of oxygen masks over their faces.

    "Two charred bodies were still hugging each other," he said.

    The plane broke into many pieces on impact, with the two engines 500 meters away from each other, the cockpit a further 200 metros away and the tail broken off a further distance away.

    Greece's defense ministry said it suspected the plane's oxygen supply or pressurization system may have malfunctioned.

    Loss of cabin pressure was identified as the probable cause of two similar but smaller-scale air crashes in recent years.

    Pro-golfer Payne Stewart and five others were killed when their Learjet aircraft crashed in the United States in 1999 after flying for more than four hours without radio contact.

    In 2000 a plane crashed in Australia after flying for more than an hour from 25,000 feet up with no sign of life on board.

    Experts told Reuters it was extremely rare for a plane to lose oxygen, and that emergency systems should have kicked in.

    "The pilots should have had their masks on," a retired British pilot who did not wish to be named told Reuters. "Why they didn't put them on is the big mystery."

    "A loss of pressurization in the cabin is in itself a rare event but to go as far as it incapacitates the pilot is hugely rare," the retired pilot said.

    Greek media speculated a toxic gas from possible faulty air-conditioning could have incapacitated the two pilots before they knew they were in danger.

    One of the F-16 pilots said he could not see the captain in the cockpit and his co-pilot appeared to be slumped in his seat.

    A spokesman for the European Aviation Safety Agency, Daniel Holtgen, based in Cologne, Germany, said the cause of the crash was likely to be a combination of factors:

    "It is highly unlikely that the loss of cabin pressure alone would cause such an incident. There would have to be other contributing factors."
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