NEWS

Flight safety officials blasted

The safety of flights from Greece has been put into question after a secret report compiled by the State Audit Council, seen by Kathimerini, recommended that most of the country’s civil aviation authority inspectors should return almost 350,000 euros in total from their salaries because they were not properly qualified for their jobs. A probe covering the years 2002, 2003 and 2004 found that the majority of flight safety inspectors employed during this time lacked the necessary qualifications. The final report, dated April 14, also concluded that the proper hiring process had not been followed in 2002, as the existence of vacant positions was never officially announced. Investigators said that many of the inspectors were also paid full salaries to work in another department of the Civil Aviation Authority. Therefore, the State Audit Council has demanded that the personnel involved should pay back a total of some 340,467 euros to the state. The findings also raise serious doubts about the safety of aircraft flying from Greece, since flight safety inspectors are responsible for performing surprise safety checks on airplanes and looking into the operating procedures of airlines based in the country. In 2000, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) judged that Greece did not comply with international safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and gave the country a Category 2 rating following an assessment of the country’s civil aviation authority.