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Aircrash of Cypriot airliner near Athens kills 121

 
 
Reply Sun 14 Aug, 2005 05:11 am
Quote:
Cypriot airliner carrying 121 crashes near Athens
Sun Aug 14, 2005

By Brian Williams

ATHENS (Reuters) - A Cypriot airliner carrying 121 people crashed north of Athens on Sunday after losing contact with air traffic control minutes before it went down.

A Greek police spokeswoman said there were no immediate reports of survivors.

Two Greek F-16 fighter jets were scrambled after the Helios Airways jet, en route from Larnaca in Cyprus to Prague via Athens, lost contact with the control tower at Athens international airport.

One of the F-16 pilots reported that he could not see the captain in the cockpit and his co-pilot appeared to be slumped in his seat, a Defence Ministry official told Reuters.

"I saw the plane coming. I knew it was serious or that it was some kind of VIP because I saw the two fighter jets," said witness Dimitris Karezas, who owns a summer camp in the area.

"Two, three minutes later I heard a big bang and ever since I've started looking for it, but I have not found anything yet," he told reporters.

The plane was carrying 115 passengers and six crew.

Ambulances and firefighters went to the crash site, uninhabited mountainous bushland in the Grammatiko area about 40 km (25 miles) north of Athens. Wreckage was spread over a wide area and fire had broken out.

"There is a fire, lots of debris. We're trying to extinguish the fire," regional fire brigade commander Nikos Papamichos told Reuters from the site. "I can't say anything more," he said when asked if there were any survivors.

A witness told state television: "From the way it looks it doesn't seem like there should be survivors."

Military helicopters flying overhead reported debris and smoke but no movement on the ground.

Greek TV station Alpha reported that the that the pilot had sent a message to air traffic controllers saying the plane had a problem with its air conditioning, after which all communication was cut.

As the extent of the disaster became clear, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis broke off his holiday on the Greek island of Tinos to rush back to Athens.

Several witnesses said they saw the plane flying low over Athens' eastern coastline before disappearing out of sight and seconds later they heard a crash.

"I never saw it slowing down," one witness said on television.

Helios, Cyprus's first private carrier, established in 1999, flies to Dublin, Sofia, Warsaw, Prague, Strasbourg and several British airports using a fleet of Boeing B737 aircraft.
Source
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Sturgis
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Aug, 2005 05:22 am
Walter, I'm speechless. I am however appreciative of your giving me a heads up on this matter since I have some friends who travel to Greece on a regular basis 4 or 5 times annually) and were scheduled to be in that area during this month...no idea what airlines or travel connections they make. May the families of the victims be spared any graphic details and find a way to push forward in life with the help of others. Sad, just a very sad news item.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Aug, 2005 05:35 am
This was a charter plane with Greek Cypriots heading for Prague - no other nationalty seems to have been in this plane.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2005 04:03 pm
Quote:
Greece Crash Baffles Aviation Experts

Monday August 15, 2005 9:46 PM


By LESLIE MILLER

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. aviation experts say they can't understand the behavior of the flight crew aboard a Cypriot airliner that crashed north of Athens after flying on autopilot for what could have been hours.

Early reports indicated that the cabin lost pressure. But if so, experts say, the pilots and the flight attendants for some reason didn't react the way they were trained to.

``It's odd,'' said Terry McVenes, executive air safety chairman for the Air Line Pilots Association, International. ``It's a very rare event to even have a pressurization problem and in general crews are very well trained to deal with it.''

The aircraft flew into Greek airspace, but air traffic controllers couldn't raise the pilots on the radio and fighter jets intercepted the plane, flying at 34,000 feet.

The fighter pilots saw that the airline pilot wasn't in the cockpit, the co-pilot was slumped over his seat and oxygen masks dangled from the ceiling, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said. He said the air force pilots also saw two people possibly trying to take control of the plane.

It is that sequence of events that puzzles aviation experts.

Warnings should go off if an airliner suddenly loses pressure, and pilots are trained to immediately put their oxygen masks on and dive to about 12,000 feet, where there's enough oxygen for people to breathe, they say.

If a cabin loses pressure suddenly, passengers and flight crew have only seconds to put on oxygen masks before losing consciousness. Death would follow quickly.

The chief Athens coroner, though, said at least six of the victims were alive at the time of the crash.

The pilots also didn't report any windows out or holes in the fuselage, the most likely causes of a catastrophic loss of pressure, said Bill Waldock, an aviation safety professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona.

Another clue to a sudden pressure loss would have been frost on the windows because it's so cold at 34,000 feet, said Waldock.

If the fighter pilots could see into the cockpit, the windows couldn't have been iced over, as they were in the 1999 crash of a Learjet 35 that killed golfer Payne Stewart and four others. Those passengers became unconscious, and investigators blamed that crash on a sudden decompression.

Paul Czysz, emeritus professor of aerospace engineering at St. Louis University, wonders why the co-pilot was slumped over.

``He couldn't have been unconscious for a small decompression at 34,000 feet,'' Czysz said. ``Something's amiss.''

The pilot and the co-pilot would have had five times as much oxygen as the passengers, he said.

``Even if the pressurization system was failing, it doesn't fail instantaneously. Even if it goes fast, you can seal the cabin, you've got all the oxygen in the cabin to breathe, you've got the masks and you've got plenty of time to get to 12,000 feet,'' he said.

Jim Hall, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said it's possible that the oxygen in the cockpit failed. He noted that the NTSB has been concerned about the ability of pilots to get their masks on quickly enough.

``The accident did not have to occur,'' said Hall. ``It has to be either a training issue or an equipment issue.''

He's worried that the answer won't be found because the cockpit voice recorder probably recorded over itself after 30 minutes. Since the plane was in the air on autopilot for so long, it probably won't provide any information, he said.
Source
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2005 04:12 pm
I had been following this yesterday, but didn't see today's report. I have to look back over your first posts, Walter... I read somewhere, maybe here, that the airline had had pressurization problems on its planes before.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2005 04:14 pm
Well, I see it wasn't here that I read that. Back in a bit.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2005 04:18 pm
There's mention of that here, with a denial.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/news/archive/2005/08/15/international/i103014D87.DTL
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2005 04:18 pm
My little cousins research area is in Cyprus. He and his wife are always travelling via Belgium. Im getting the nerve to call home.
0 Replies
 
Acquiunk
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2005 04:28 pm
Farmerman, the plane was headed for Parage
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2005 04:28 pm
Yikes, Farmerman... doesn't sound like it from the manifest but spooky anyway.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2005 04:29 pm
Yikes, Farmerman... doesn't sound like it from the manifest but spooky anyway.
0 Replies
 
Acquiunk
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2005 04:30 pm
This story is getting increasingly bizarre


ATHENS/NICOSIA, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Some of the 121 people on board a Cypriot airliner were still alive when it crashed into mountains in Greece, a coroner said on Monday, after earlier reports that many had frozen to death at high
altitude.

A Greek Defence Ministry official said some of the first bodies recovered from the crash site on Sunday had been frozen solid. Koutsaftis stressed many other bodies had still to be examined and it was too early to determine if there was the same reason for the death of all the victims.Link
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Aug, 2005 04:52 pm
It turns out, my cousin is now in Central America doing something . I almost didnt know how to call and ask . His mom, my aunt, is rather old and frail.
Turns out she was talking with them this morning from the airport in Houston.
Im very sorry that this occured but am happy that we were spared.
0 Replies
 
 

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