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Boeing is not part of the Helios air crash trial because of money involved

10 April 2013 / 18:04:20  GRReporter
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George Kikides is former head of flight operations of Cypriot Helios Airways whose Boeing 737-300 crashed near Athens on 14 August 2005. The crash killed all 121 people on board. Due to his poor health, George Kikides was unable to appear in court neither at first instance, nor when the verdict against the three employees of Helios Airways was appealed to the Court of Appeal. In anticipation of the decision of the Supreme Court of Greece, which is to be announced on 28 May 2013, we have contacted Mr. Kikides, who was kind enough to answer the questions of Maria S. Topalova.

    Could you please tell us how your health is right now, where you live and how you managed to pay the amount of money requested by the Greek government?

    I am currently in remission from cancer, which is generally five years. I try to maintain my health however stress is a worrying contributing factor. As previously advised all defendants paid the money requested from the Greek Government.

    What were the accusations against you at the trial in Athens?

    The accusations made against myself and all of the accused were the same. Ianko Stoimenov must have mentioned this to you. Basically we had two incompetent pilots and allowed them to operate on that particular date and caused the accident.

    As the Head of Flight Operations what were your responsibilities in the Helios company?

    Please ask Ianko Stoimenov as he has all the responsibilities regarding my post. Basically I was responsible to the law for pilots' licences and medicals being valid, flight time limitations as per JAR ops (Joint Aviation Requirement for the operation of commercial air transport - author’s note), rest periods and that all Training was completed as per JAR Ops' regulations. For all my responsibilities I had in place my collaborators, I.E Training Manager, Chief pilot, Training captains, Examiner Training Captains approved by the British Authorities and the JAA (Joint Aviation Authority - author’s note), Ground Instructors, CRM (Crew Resource Management - author’s note) approved by the UK CAA (Civil Aviation Authority - author’s note) Instructors, Technical Pilot, Emergency and survival training personnel, Flight operations Control, Rostering officers and many other personnel.

    What did you do on the day of the accident?

    I was on leave with my family. After the tragic news I had to cancel everything and return to the Company's headquarters, Larnaca and assist the Emergency Team to deal with the accident as per the operations manual.

    According to the prosecutor and to the Greek judges the cause for the accident was the switch adjusting the pressurisation system in the "manual" rather than the "automatic" position. According to the defence the cause is a flaw in the design of the aircraft. What is your opinion, what is the real cause for this accident?

    According to the Canadian Experts known as the AIR team and who have a worldwide reputation as accident investigators, the PMS (pressure mode selector) was in the AUTOMATIC position and not in the MANUAL position as was thought by the Greek accident investigators. Thorough examinations conducted by the AIR team have revealed NEW evidence thus shedding doubt on what really happened. For the aircraft warning system design for such a major emergency to be incomplete and after numerous safety recommendations made by the IRISH and NORWEGIAN Accident investigators to the US FAA (Federal Administration Authority - author’s note) in 2003, well before the 2005 accident of Helios, the fact that BOEING still did not do anything to correct this UNSAFE condition, for such an emergency to have just a HORN to warn Pilots and that even the HORN was used for THREE different failures - all of this is disgraceful. But yet again it’s down to money thus compromising air safety.

    Do you have an explanation why Boeing is not a part of the Greek trial?

    MONEY. This accident for BOEING was classed as collateral damage. BOEING is NOT a CHARITABLE ORGANISATION, nevertheless they have paid 33% of compensation to the victims of this tragic accident. It was also established that they made every person receiving the compensation sign that they will have no claims from BOEING in the future. You may ask yourself why they did this.

    Do you support the idea of re-investigation of the causes for this tragic accident? How could a new investigation help in revealing the truth about the crash?

    Yes I greatly support the reopening of the investigation as the Greek  AAIASB (Greek Air Accident and Aviation Safety Board - author’s note) did not do a proper job of trying to find the truth and the real causes of this accident. It is a fact that the accident occurred but the WHY'S were never pursued by the Greeks. During the Cypriot trial many discrepancies became evident as to:

1. How the investigation was carried out by the Greek investigators?.      

Tags: George Kikides Maria S. Topalova Helios air crash Boeing Ianko Stoimenov investigation
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